solarization and Man Ray
looking at the man ray solarized pictures , i wonder HOW he did them. Only part of the picture is solarized (first jpg here below ...only the shadow is solarized) or just the border (second jpg, part of the head/hair and border).
How is it possible?
First off, please give Lee Miller more credit than Man Ray. As his assistant she accidentally briefly turned on the white lights while processing film. This solarized the film. Man Ray liked the results, so experimented more with the look of solarizing film, not the print.
Lee Miller was one hell of a great photographer, but since our society tends to overlook the accomplishments of women, isn't given much credit in photographic history. She and Margaret Bourke White took many of the most memorable photographs of the waning days of World War II.
ok, thanks but this does not explain HOW she/he did the solarization process.
I've done quite a bit of research and testing into solarization and the main thing to consider is that the majority of Man Rays and Lee Miller's would have been as Pinholemaster pointed out, solarized when processing the film, not during the printing. In the bottom image, the model would have been shot against black, which was clear on the negative until the film was flashed with light during the dev. The flash would be enough to fog the clear film but not the midtones and highlights of the body. The film is then processed more, darkening the (once) black background, (clear on neg), which will then print as grey or white depending on the length of the flash. The dividing line between the highlights and flashed shadows remains clear, printing as black. (There is a very long technical explanation of what is happening to form this line, but I haven't got time to go on too much; am probably not technical enough to describe it accurately anyway!) Most of the solarizations I've done have been with Ilford Ortho processed in weak Tmax dev so it can be done under a safelight. (1+9) 2 mins dev, then put the film in a try of water under a spare enlarger, expose and then given a further two minutes. What is amazing is how much re-exposure you can give. A short one will make the background grey, while a long one makes it white. I've watched the half developed film be exposed to 2 minutes of light and the mid tones and highlights are not affected. Naturally lots of testing is required to get the right starting points. The neg is usually a little bit flat but then you can bump up the contrast in printing. However, the main thing to remember is to consider the tones in the original shot so the solarization will work. It's great fun!
Last edited by Mike Crawford; 02-05-2009 at 11:23 AM. Click to view previous post history.
This is quite amazing to me! I've had very different experiences, but using a very different protocol---what solarisations I've done have been with Efke 100 in HC-110, with re-exposure done by turning on the room light very briefly at about the halfway point in development time.
Originally Posted by Mike Crawford
Quite likely the overhead light in my darkroom is brighter than your spare enlarger, but I wouldn't have guessed the difference would be so extreme---I end up completely inverting the negative with a re-exposure of only a few seconds, and to get interesting tonal effects I've found that I need to give just a *very* brief flash, rarely more than a second.
It's a fascinating and unpredictable effect, isn't it? Lots of fun to play with, and the more playing I do, the more impressed I am with the Man Ray/Lee Miller pieces. I'm interested in knowing more about what others are doing with it, and seeing what ideas I can steal to bring it under a little more control.
(Strictly speaking, of course, it's not solarisation but the "Sabat(t)ier effect", but "solarisation" has more character.)
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
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the only solarizations i have done have been in the printing,
not in the film development process. i use a safelight filter under my enlarger head,
and after the image begins to poke its way through the white of the paper,
i squeegee off some of the developer, and align the print back under the enlarger
i use the filter so i can project the negative back onto the print.
i then burn in where i want the image to be solarized.
i would imagine one could locally solarize a negative the same way -
under an enlarger's beam of light instead of with the room lights ...
Too right! Though the idea of making the flash exposure under an enlarger in a tray of water was to make it a wee bit more predictable. While it is a mysterious process, it is a chemical process which occurs so why not try to control it? It's also possible to do a (soft edged) test strip holding a bit of card above the tray to see how the flash affects the solarization. And before health and safety jump on me, I was very careful with having the tray of water on a towel on the baseboard, also to make sure no dev was dripped on the enlarger.
Originally Posted by ntenny
I had to double check the proper name for the dark borders seen above as it's been a while since I did my City & Guilds. They are called Mackie lines but like Sabatier/Solarisation print descriptions the term is a general one since they are to be seen in Sabatier prints as bold effects but in an acutance developed film as a micro-effect, as first observed by Herschel I think ( not that I was there... ).
Last edited by apochromatic; 02-05-2009 at 03:40 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Take a look at Ed Buffaloe's Unblinking Eye site for some comprehensive articles on print solarization (Sabattier effect).