A New Collection: Refractography, Abstracts by Light

February 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

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It all started back in January 2014. That winter season kicked off at the end of November 2013 and must have felt long by the time January came. I saw a few refractographs in a magazine and got excited about the gorgeous abstracts presented and about having an indoor project to work on. Since then, I returned to my basement several times with new pieces of glass trying to create new abstract light forms.

I have been sharing those in my blog posts: Discovering RefractographsContinued Fun with RefractographyBack to RefractographyImaginary Sailboats, and in my Abstracts & Patterns photo gallery.

Today, I would like to share a new Refractography collection with you! It's not completed by any means. It is really just the beginning! I plan on regularly adding more and sharing them in their own blog posts as they make it to my web site.

I have to go shopping first though. So far, I have found the feet of stemmed glasses to work best for refracting the light in an attractive way. While almost any glass will create a refraction sharply cut glass results in well defined focused patterns of light. With each glass, very subtle movements in front of the camera, and rotation, result in very different patterns. A single glass can thus produce many abstract photographs. I have, however, also found out that each glass only gets me one or two favorite refractographs. To get more, more glasses are needed, thus the need for shopping.

Aside for the outcome that I enjoy a lot another reason foe me to get into refractography was its simplicity, or as economists would say low barrier to entry. No, I do not mean to oversimplify. Some precision is needed, and results can vary wildly based on the light source used. Multiple sources can be used, different ways of coloring the light, and more. The fact remains though that if you have a digital camera with live view, you probably have everything that you need. You don't even need a lens! Add a flash light, tripod, and a few clamps and you're in business. Sure, articulating arms and other fancy equipment will make your creations easier to accomplish but are not needed to get started. Another thing you need? Time and patience. Unless you can dedicate an area to this hobby it takes a while to set up, create, and then clean up. And unless you have some of the fancy equipment, it can be frustrating at times as you try to lock everything down into position to keep it steady during your exposure. Talking about exposure, you lose one of the traditional ways of controlling it. No lens means no aperture! You are left with ISO and shutter speed. No lens also means no focusing. That is controlled by the narrowness of the light beam and the shape of the glass in front of your camera.


Have fun!

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