Shutterings and Mutterings - photography blog

Starfruit Quartet photoshop artwork based on lumen print

Lumen printing - catching the sunlight

When people think of photography, they generally assume a camera will be involved. However, the strict definition of photography is the creation of a durable image by recording light either on an electronic sensor or on paper treated with light-sensitive chemicals. Although a camera makes the process of capturing an image more efficient, it's possible to work without one.

One very simple technique of cameraless photography is lumen printing, which involves placing objects on old-school photographic paper and leaving it out in the sun to produce an exposure.

Starfruit slices on a sheet of photographic paper.

The image above shows four thin slices of starfruit on a sheet of expired Ilford Ilfospeed 2.1 paper that was exposed to direct sunlight for about 15 minutes.

The segments filtered out some of the light and the natural juices in the fruit also caused the chemicals in the paper to react. The image below shows the result when the fruit slices were removed.

The photographic paper after the starfruit slices were removed

The exposed image can be preserved using conventional photographic fixer but this process washes away some of the subtle colour produced by the natural juices so it's best to photograph the unfixed image digitally as soon as the fruit comes off.

I cropped one of the stars in Photoshop and created four different versions by altering the colour balance. These were then combined on a black background to create the Warhol-style montage that appears at the top of the page.

Further reading: I learned this technique from experimental photographer Ky Lewis, whose website is well worth checking out.

For more about cameraless photography: Try Experimental Photography: A Handbook of Techniques and Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography

Questions? If you'd like a print of the four-part montage or would like to learn more about the photographic and Photoshop processes involved, contact me.

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