My initial exposure to holography was when I joined the Electro-Holography research group at BYU under Daniel Smalley. It was there that I can recall seeing my first true hologram. Since then, I have worked with him to make improvements on the Mark V Holographic Video Monitor (Mark I was created by Dr. Stephen Benton at the MIT Media Lab, and Dr. Smalley brought his updated version to BYU with him). I was also able to take Dr. Smalley's Holography course at BYU, where we learned about the history of holography, the physics behind it, how to make various types of holograms, and the work that is being done to advance the research in the field of holography. There were many hands-on aspects of that course that allowed us to better visualize diffraction and interference and to create our own holograms, both digitally and physically.
Since then, I have been able to make even more of my own holograms through an optics course I have taken at MIT, in my final project for my Sci Fab 2019 project, HoloGIF, and through the MIT IAP 2020 Hands-On Holography course taught by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. While I haven't had to go through the pain of constructing a sandbox on top of old tires in a dark basement or cellar, I have tried my hand various methods of creating holograms, using different development processes (UV, chemical, etc.) and recording geometries. The best results I've attained, however, come from using LitiHolo Instant Hologram Film. I have made a variety of successful and really cool holograms of coins, rings, lenses, and other objects.
I hope to continue to gain more intuition in holography as I experiment with even more methods and processes to create holograms, and do more research to break down the barriers from making even better holograms. Whether that's in the form of better recording materials, breakthroughs in computer generated hologram algorithms, or improvements to optical devices that can record or recreate interference patterns and wavefronts, I hope to be among those on the front lines of this technology.