When I first began shooting Zoneplate images, I instantly became interested in creating my own Zoneplates with a variety of zones and to accommodate a variety of focal lengths. The traditional process of creating Zoneplates, is more work that it needs to be especially if you are concerned w/ the accuracy of your final Zoneplate. Accuracy is also a concern for Pinhole photographers when creating their self-made apertures.
Having a background in Graphic arts and the processes involved to create plates (not to be confused w/ Zoneplates) for offset printing presses. I’ve had plenty of experience in the days before Direct-to-plate technology using a “film” output device called an “Imagesetter”. When creating plates for offset presses accuracy is a must and at the time the imagesetter heeded that call. The imagesetter is still used at many local print shops for both Screen printing and Offset printing.
Creating a Zoneplate and Pinhole Apertures
What You’ll Need
Computer with “Vector” based software, such as Adobe Illustrator
This Link to a great Zoneplate Calculator
This Link to a Pinhole Calculator
A shop to with an imagesetter to output your digital file to film
At Whiz Kid’s site you can learn all about the in’s and out’s of Zoneplates. Since the subject is “creating” them we’ll stick to that.
1. Determine the focal length of the camera you would like to use your zone plate on.
2. Use Whiz Kid’s Calculator and enter in the information required.
3. Set the output dpi to 9600 in the calculator (this will create an .eps file for you)
4. Download the file
5. Open Illustrator and create an 8.5×11 page. Now open the file you downloaded and bring it into the blank document you just created.
6. If your Zoneplate looks like Figure A, select all and ungroup the selection
7. Deselect the black background and the text at the top and the bottom of the box
8. With only the center images selected, using your align tool, align the image both horizontally and vertically. The zone plate should now look like Figure B.
9. Save your file as an .eps
There are quite a few calculators to determine pinhole diameters. Here are a couple links for you to experiment with.
1. Determine the focal length of the camera you would like to use your pinhole on.
2. Use one of the suggested calculators and enter in the information required for the calculator.
3. Open Illustrator and create an 8.5×11 page.
4. When you have the results you can to into Illustrator and draw a black box however large you would like.
5. Now, draw a circle the using the results figured by the Pinhole Calculator
6. Center the Pinhole in the black box.
7. Save your file as an .eps
Now from the size of the Pinhole or Zoneplate you just created, you can see how much space is left on your 8.5×11 page. Do a variety of Zoneplates with different zones or pinholes experiment with different sizes, shapes or designs till your page is full.
Once you have your files saved you can drop them onto a CD or DVD and take them to a local printer that has “film output” capabilities. A sheet of film at 8.5×11 should not cost more than $15, if it does, shop around.
Ask them for a high resolution Film Positive, Right Reading Emulsion Side Down, output at 100% and the final document size to be 8.5×11.
When you get your Film back it is just like any other film. There is an “emulsion side” and a “carrier side” There are a couple ways to tell which is the emulsion side. The easiest way is to take a razorblade and see if the black will scratch off with very little pressure. If so, that is the emulsion side. The other way is to look at both sides of the film, the “emulsion” side will be dull and the carrier side will be glossy.
When you mount your pinhole or zoneplate to your camera, position the “emulsion side towards your paper or film that your are projecting light to.
Now that you have done this process you should have created an ultra-sharp pinhole and a perfect Zoneplate.