21 December 2006

My black sun

myblacksun1

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.

mysun

2 comments:

Tutorialblog said...

Great pictures!

Would luv to see them on My Photocommunity

Reg
chris

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.