Browsing on Flickr over the weekend, I saw scans mixed in with photos on a member’s page. It reminded me that scanning is a great way to experiment with making images. Back in the 80’s I worked at a copy shop near Columbia University for a year. It was a busy store, but once in a while there was down time. Spending all day copying print, from flyers to graduate theses, I was drawn to experiment with the big Kodak machines. (Those copiers were temperamental and our repairman would fly in on a cocaine high and whip them into shape in no time, but that’s another story). Like many people, I first tried putting my hand on the glass, marveling at the detail. Quickly I moved on to other objects, including colorful patterned socks from the 50’s, and tiny shells that appeared as a galaxy of stars when I raised the lid up, making the background black.
Here are a few quick home grown experiments. My scanner/copier isn’t nearly as good as those old Kodaks. It doesn’t focus as well. But with processing in Lightroom and On1, I can add textures, change colors, drop borders in, and play to my heart’s content. And I never have to worry that the store owner will show up while I’m in the midst of it.
Many of you will recognize the ginkgo leaves. I pick them up now and then. They evoke my earliest days in New York, where many a city block is planted with the sturdy, pollution-resistant trees, and associations with Buddhism, because the species has been grown in Chinese temple gardens for almost a thousand years. Long-lived as individual trees (scroll down to one that’s 2000 years old), ginkgoes may be the oldest living seed plants. They shared space with dinosaurs millions of years ago. The attractive leaf shape with its many variations on the fan theme, and the strong yellow fall color are appealing. I love this tree!
(One more fact about Ginkgoes – when I first learned about them, I read that they did not exist in the wild, and hadn’t been known to grow wild in historical times. But three years ago wild Ginkgo forests were “discovered” in southwestern China! Scientists were able to determine, with DNA testing and other methods, that the trees weren’t put there by humans. Indigenous peoples’ taboos against planting or logging them apparently helped preserve a wild pocket or two of the trees.
The net-veined leaves are from a Magnolia tree at Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle. Insects eat the fleshier parts, skeletonizing the leaves. And who knew – you can buy them on the internet, and learn how to make your own.
The flower and leaf collections are from trips to Arizona. Old, water-stained paper that I saved is in the background. I made the marbled paper in the last scan by floating and swirling oil paints on water in a roasting pan. I hope I threw that pan out…