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After a busy day at work, and with the dusty weather outside, I needed to set myself a small challenge of indoor photography.  In the blurred photo above, there is a boat, its fuel and its engine.  For twenty minutes, I had as much fun as a five-year-old would with a life-sized remote-controlled car!  Well, not that much fun, but you get the picture…

I used a new technique (new for me) where the external flash unit is controlled by the camera from a distance – effectively acting as a studio light.  ‘Commander Mode’ made the shot below possible.  It’s supposed to symbolise the sea at night with the shimmer of a full moon – and no I’m not on special medication…

I love how this little boat, the size of a mobile phone, has been made to function.  My wife bought it for me at a fair in West London .  It’s handmade from recycled tin and the profit goes to rebuilding a windmill somewhere in Southern England.

The operation is wonderfully simple.  Here is my attempt to complicate it in words: There is a tiny boiler underneath the ‘decoration’ chimney.  The candle heats up the water inside it, which boils and shoots through the exhaust pipe to the back.  This propels the boat forward.  The water that rushes out of the boiler creates a pressure drop (and almost a vacuum) inside, which means it draws in some more water .  If you’re still reading… you will know that the whole process repeats itself, hence a continuous motion until the candle disappears.

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13 Comments

    • BitJockey
    • Posted 18 August 2009 at 1:00 am
    • Permalink

    Awesome! That is so cool.

    • Thanks… It is isn’t it? Very original.

    • C2B
    • Posted 18 August 2009 at 4:16 pm
    • Permalink

    Ahhh the passion of engineering!
    I so SO want one!

    AS EVER, lovely shots Bu yousef 🙂

    • 🙂 ‘the passion of engineering’
      Thanks C2B You should design a tin airplane that runs on a flame. (actually maybe not)

  1. Amazing shots! I love the lighting effect of the flash!

  2. great ideas and shots as usual .. 😉

  3. Coool shots!!

  4. 🙂 ingeneous, or thats what we used to think, when we see a similar version of this, back home in our ‘melas’ or fairs. though this looks slightly ‘finished’! 🙂 the fun is always the same i guess, n this was what we used to get some 2 decades back! not sure if its still around.

  5. great shots. you did great on the effect of the ‘full moon shimmer.’


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  1. By Verano « Blog populi, blog dei on 21 Jun 2010 at 4:29 pm

    […] blog de M. Abdullah también hay otros posts padres y con estupendas fotografías como esta de un barquito de juguete y su ingenioso sistema de movimiento o este otro post comparando pasado y presente. from […]

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