Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 59–68

Natural-background-oriented schlieren imaging

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00348-009-0709-3

Cite this article as:
Hargather, M.J. & Settles, G.S. Exp Fluids (2010) 48: 59. doi:10.1007/s00348-009-0709-3


The background-oriented schlieren (BOS) flow visualization method has the potential for large-scale flow imaging outside the laboratory by using natural backgrounds instead of the artificial patterns normally used indoors. The natural surroundings of an outdoor test site can sometimes be used as such a background, subject to criteria of fine scale, randomness and contrast that are developed here. Some natural backgrounds are more appropriate than others for a given application. Backgrounds used here to visualize both high- and low-speed schlieren disturbances include a sunlit cornfield and a backlit grove of trees. A range of image post-processing methods is considered for qualitative BOS. It is found that high sensitivity and a broad measuring range are in conflict here, much as they are in traditional schlieren instruments. Applications of natural-BOS include explosive characterization, firearms and artillery testing, chemical and natural-gas leak detection, and related phenomena.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Penn State Gas Dynamics LaboratoryPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA