21 December 2006

My black sun


Ansel Adams had a famous photograph called The Black Sun. It is the solarized (black) image of a sun near the horizon with a slightly underexposed, but not solarized, creek and a tree in the foreground. (I searched the Web, but couldn't find a digitized copy of Adam's picture.)

Occasionally during my darkroom days, I experimented with solarization of photographs that were still being developed by turning the room light on for a very brief period, a second, perhaps. This created a reversal effect, making bright areas in the picture dark and giving dark areas a bright halo. I admit I don't know the photochemistry behind the process.

In his book, Examples. The Making of 40 Photographs, Adams explains how he created his black sun. Although I don't quite understand how he did it, he seems to have solarized the negative (not the final photograph) by means of a specialized developer.

Ever since I started taking digital pictures, I have been experimenting with the solarize filter in Photoshop, trying to create something similar to Adam's picture. I hadn't been successful until tonight. It turns out that the trick is to start with an underexposed photograph, solarize it and then brighten it up a little bit. In my case, it also helped that the sun was behind a thin cloud layer.

If you compare the picture above with the original below you will see that the only reversal is in the sun. If I brighten the original first, and then solarize it, I get reversal effects elsewhere in the picture.



Tutorialblog said...

Great pictures!

Would luv to see them on My Photocommunity


Anonymous said...

what you're describing as have used is the sabatier effect, true solarization is gross(100-1,000x) overexposure of the film then normal proscesing.