Tuesday 28 August 2012

#19: Mug and apple

Finally had some time to draw again. Here's another in my series of still life drawings. I have gone all rusty and forgotten everything I have learned. Oh well, back to the drawing board. HB mechanical pencil on printer paper; about size A5.

Sunday 12 August 2012


I have been trying my hand at making anthotypes - basically making prints using photosensitive chemicals from plants. An description of what it entails can be read in Wikipedia here:


And here are two articles describing how to do it in some detail:



For my first attempt, I used the purple berries of a privet bush (Ligustrum sp.). I mashed up a handful with a mortar and pestle, added a bit of water and methylated spirits to create a thin, watery paint (because the pulp was rather too dry to brush on its own) and then brushed two or three layers onto cartridge paper (letting layers dry before brushing on the next one). When the liquid dried it turned brownish.

I then put the paper onto a piece of Masonite, put a few leaves from a carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) on top, and then covered it with a plastic transparency, and fastened the whole thing together with clips:

As you can see, the transparency did not work very well: instead of pressing the leaves flat against the paper, it buckled a bit, allowing sunshine to get partly under the leaves. I left the setup out in the sun for about five days, after which a clear print had formed on the paper:

It looks rather out of focus for reasons explained above: the leaves did not press down firmly onto the paper, so as the sun shifted position through the days, its rays got in under the sides of the leaves, exposing bits of paper that should have remained in shade.

For my next attempt I got hold of a piece of plate glass, and I used three layers of cheap red wine as photosensitive pigment. For the rest I simply repeated the procedure as above:

As you can see, the leaves were pressed down more firmly against the paper this time. I used carob leaves again, plus a few leaves from a garden shrub I can't identify. I once again left it in sunshine for about five days. This time round, the print came out more crisply and clearly:

Perhaps not exactly great art or photography, but there is something rather magical about it.

Friday 3 August 2012

A simple pinhole camera

Every now and then, I cobble together some or other thing I really should have done when I was twelve and gotten it out of my system. I never did then, so now I am doomed to remain twelve all my life. I'm not sure that is necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, here's one of those impromptu experiments:

A simple shoe box, with a pinhole in one side and a viewscreen made of piece of white paper glued inside, on the side opposite the pinhole. An image of whatever the pinhole is facing will be cast onto the viewscreen. In order to see it, I cut a peephole into the box, as shown. You close the lid to make the inside dark, look through the peephole, and there you have it: an upside down image of the world behind you.

To photograph it, I simply poked the front of my point-and-shoot camera into the peephole. The photo came out even dimmer than my subjective experience of the image:

Here's the same picture, turned right side up:

And here is the same photo, brightened up a bit with the help of Gimp:

Rather out of focus! My pinhole was a bit too large, I think. With a smaller pinhole, the image will be in sharper focus, but also more dimly lit, which would likely make photographing it impossible without a time exposure.

Short of keeping silkworms in it, I can't think of a cooler use of an old shoe box.