In today's column, I've got something a little different for you -- some pictures I call "second generation photos," because I have manipulated these images in two different ways. Can you figure out what I have done to alter these photos?
First, you'll probably have figured out that these photos have been "solarized," because I have shown you solarized photos on other occasions. Solarization is a way of using color to alter an image. You'll find it as an option on some cameras, and it acts like a filter and mimics the darkroom technique of the same name. The process causes an intentional and unpredictable shift in color balance and color intensity in an image.
Solarization is fun to do, but it does not enhance the great majority of photos. Once you've seen it, it can get old pretty fast because it usually produces very bright and somewhat bizarre color combinations that simply detract from most images. I enjoy using it from time to time to see if I can bring some new insight to a subject that I have photographed before. I like to challenge myself to take pictures that I haven't thought of before, and I like to challenge my viewer with different kinds of images. I like to play with my mind and yours!
And so the second manipulation I made was to change the color photos that I had solarized into black and white photos using Microsoft Office Picture Manager. You can do it in almost any photo manipulation program, but here again, not every image looks good when it's changed to black and white. Structurally weak composition can be overlooked in a photo with pleasing, bright colors, but in black and white photos, the composition must be strong, because all shapes and forms are completely revealed. I was pleased with the black and white version of these images, because the shapes and forms are strong, but the solarization challenges what our eyes understand to be the natural balance between light and dark, forcing us to question what we see. I like to do that.
These pictures were all taken at an outdoor antique car show. In "Jalopy Engine," it's all about shapes, angles and shadows. I was trying to make a static thing like a car feel more dynamic by altering my camera angle to dramatize the solarized contrasts of the dark and light shapes.
In "Ford Dashboard #3," I wanted to capture the sense of nostalgia I was feeling for the Ford convertible that was in the show, because I remember the fun of riding in a convertible like that when I was a teen, and, yes, the fuzzy dice you see, just had to be dangling from the rear view mirror when we cruised up to the drive-in A&W Root Beer stand! Solarization added just the right sense of mystery and mood to this picture.
No antique car show would be complete without shiny bumpers, fancy hood ornaments, beautiful grills and headlamps, and large side view mirrors, which, as you can see, I could not pass by. I'm always interested in the way shiny metal reflects color and its surroundings, so I had to take "Bumper Strip Story #3" because there are clues in it as to where I was taking the picture. Can you guess where I was? I'm also in the "Ford Hood Ornament" photo, but in a quite different way - the reflection of the brightly colored shirt I was wearing can be seen as the darkest shadows in the picture.
In "Grill, Light Reflections" and "Side View Mirror, RS" were smaller details that caught my eye. It's hard to resist the strong patterns of a beautiful Bentley grill and headlamp, but I also had to capture the mysterious and charming little scene I found in this side view mirror. If you saw it without the solarization, we would both be disappointed.
I hope you enjoyed these "second generation" photo, and that they sparked either curiosity or a creative urge in you. That's why I do these columns.
Lee Paine of Riverside is a professional freelance writer and photographer. She teaches, lectures and judges in the photographic field. You can visit her website at www.leepainefinephotography.com.