The universe is an awesome subject, and only machines and astronauts have captured the real thing from outer space. However, photographer Navid Baraty found a way around that – his side project called WANDER Space Probe uses odd things like food and other stuff in the household to create amazing, realistic images!

You may be thinking, “What, how?” We at the TAE creative team were amazed at Navid’s technique. Using a scanner with the lid left open, he positions several items (mostly food) and then hits the scan button. Because when you leave a scanner lid open, the image renders black, whatever Navid scans gets set against black rather than white. Presto – instant starry night sky with a cool twist!

Baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar, among other things, end up as distant stars, galaxies and nebulas. Glasses filled with water, milk, and food coloring become swirling atmospheres of planets. Navid describes his side project as “Cosmic explorations of an imaginary space probe.”

Why outer space and why this technique? The man who left a career in engineering to pursue photography says he’s seen similar techniques before. “I’d seen examples … where others had scanned objects with the scanner lid open to create a sharp contrast between the highly detailed scan of the object with the totally black background.”

He continues, “I’m inspired by photos of space every day and I wondered if I might be able to create similar space scenes on this black background by sprinkling spices on the scanner glass to create stars, using liquids in a glass to create the natural swirls and clouds of planets. I was really surprised at how realistic they can look!”

“I’d like people to look at these images and think could my fictional creation of a planet or moon or galaxy actually exist somewhere in our universe or possibly even beyond? I’d like for the imaginary explorations of Wander to inspire others about the cosmos and space exploration. I’d like for the series to literally take people to different worlds.”

Let your eyes play tricks on you and forget the pictures are made of food and other things – see how righteously fun these photographs are. Can you take a guess at what items they’re really made of?

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Can’t wait to see what other pretty pics of the universe Navid can create! Check out the project’s Facebook page or Instagram to keep updated.