An Optical Illusion For Your Inner Nocturnal Animal

I have an animal within who can see at night. And so do you. Humans have a setting on our eyes we use but rarely pay attention to: night vision.

Simulations of how animals see show that through another set of eyes, the world changes its color, sharpness, and contrast. With night vision, this simulation becomes real.

Last winter, I created a series of optical illusion candle prints that show the after-image effect.

This winter, I set out to create another optical effect: a lit candle that brightens as the eyes adjust to the dark.  The effect– a demonstration comparing our two types of vision rather than a true illusion–works because our night vision sees color differently, allowing a camouflaged flame to emerge Continue reading

Ancient Life and Modern Love at the Center of a Geode

My large enhydro agate geode with sanding sponge. Photo by Emily Wick

I have been sanding through an enhydro agate geode for over a year, slowly wearing away its surface toward the crystal-lined pool inside. It is part of a larger project exploring geodes through hand-sanding to examine things that usually go unseen.

As I’ve approached the center of the geode, friends have been asking what I plan to do with the water. Let it spill? Save Continue reading

Searching for Scorpions at Night

To get close enough to a wild scorpion to take its photo is scary: the Arizona bark scorpion isn’t deadly, but it’s the most venomous scorpion in the United States, with a sting that causes severe pain.

The Scorpion Master

It’s more terrifying for the scorpion, I’m guessing. It’s Halloween weekend in Phoenix, and I’m less than an inch away from its body, a 4x micro lens on my camera phone in one hand and a Scorpion Master black light flashlight in the other. I don’t kick or turn over any rocks, and I periodically sweep the light around my feet. Continue reading

The Shimmering Slime Drawings of Snails and Slugs

Slugs and slime on a stump, Oakland, CA

It’s hard not to notice crushed snails on sidewalks. But I usually didn’t notice the subtle slime trails that emerged out of front yard gardens, where and slugs and snails glided along glittering lines of slime crisscrossing the sidewalk. These lines mapping where the little creatures have traveled are visible only for a moment, when the sun happens to light them up at just the right angle.

One trail in particular reminded me of the people who use the Map My Run app to leave trails in the shapes of a body part or to spell words, and after I saw it, I was suddenly tuned in to slug and snail drawings like never before.  Continue reading

The Flower-Popping Power of Purple Lenses

Me with a grapefruit and purple-lensed glasses. Left: naked eye. Right: view through purple lenses.

To see things differently doesn’t always mean seeing more. Limiting the senses– a candlelight dinner, a silent cathedral–enhances sensory experience.

One way to limit color vision is to wear colored lenses. I have been wearing purple lenses as sunglasses, and occasionally indoors, for several weeks weeks. They came in a pack of 12 assorted colored sunglasses from a company called Glo-X.  Continue reading