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How I (Michael) got started in Holography and where that led me, up to 1991


The March 1984 issue of National Geographic is what got me interested.  As I recall, it wasn't until the following summer that I actually saw that issue and was immediately captivated.


Shortly after reading NG, I found the Holography Handbook at the bookstore.  It was obvious that anyone (with access to a laser and a bit of disposable income) could make holograms.  One day after reading both of these, I decided I wanted to start making holograms.

My mother liked to tell the story about her calling my father that day I decided to pursue Holography and saying "well, he finally asked for something" (I never really asked for much as a child, I didn't even push to get my drivers license or a car) "he wants a laser."  All my siblings wanted cars and who knows what else.  Me, I had to be strange and ask for a laser, which for decades had been defined as a "tool searching for a problem."

My dad scrounged a laser of unknown power (probably about 0.5mW) out of a laser copier and I purchased a copy of The Holography Handbook. I began building a 4x4' sand table in my bedroom (on the ground floor) and was soon making holograms (as well as regularly chasing the cats out of my table). I was able to make a fair number of holograms that I'm still proud of before I moved out of the house a few years later and had to consign the sand to the flower beds.

A year later I purchased a table kit from Arbor Scientific that included a number of sorbothane spheres, holder, film, chemicals, etc and I restarted my hobby in my apartment.

A few years later I was married to Susan, (I know, not holography related but she's the key part of my life) who is fortunately a fellow geek who thinks holography is cool. I continued making several different types of holograms as time permitted. I even had one of them hanging in a Dallas gallery, Elusive Image, for a while before it closed.

This is a version of the one that was hanging in Elusive Image.

Unfortunately, in 1991 we moved to a house where I wasn't going to have room for a lab and the holography equipment remained in boxes until Christmas 2002 when Susan gave me the D&S laser kit for Christmas.

Whoohooo! I spent the next few months getting things set up in my upstairs office and working out the process (there are more details here). The final table is surprisingly stable due to some extra planning we did when having this house built

A collection of magazines and holograms that I've acquired through the years.  I believe I have all of the National Geographic's with holographic covers.

This was the first all-hologram magazine cover.  The cover is one continuous hologram.


No, this hologram isn't one of mine. It's from the inside cover of Graham Saxby's Practical Holography.  It's an excellent silver-halide hologram of Alice's White Knight.


My old (still working) laser.  My second laser (I had retired the copier laser) was killed when a cat knocked it off my table.  This one was purchased from Meredith Instruments and used with the power supply I already had.

A not-great picture of one of the first transfer holograms I ever made.  The master is on 2.5" glass and the copy was made on 4x5" film.  Not an ideal way to create a transfer but I was using what was available to me at the time.  The image is extremely bright and clear although it does have a very limited viewing angle. Created 1990.

It was a later transfer hologram (same master to copy setup as the crystal) of which one copy was hanging at Elusive Image.  It's a smaller pewter castle floating on puffy while clouds and is extremely bright. Created 1990.

White light transmission hologram.  I have no idea how this was mastered.  The object was a borrowed carousel horse that made an exceptional subject.

Transmission of a small pot with coins.  I had planned to make a reflection copy of this just before we moved years ago but didn't have time to work out the kinks.


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Last modified: Sunday, January 31, 2010