Scanograms: for the first self-portraits, I had to put my head on the scanner like a scaffold..

During long winter evenings when it is cold and quickly gets dark outside, making me gloomy and sad, taking a scanner can be one of the most effective ways to cheer up the mood. This is a relatively new direction in photography, based on the creation of still images taken without the aid of a camera. More precisely, any flatbed scanner acts as a camera. This simple from the point of view of its use electronic device is perfect for your free time and creative self-expression. In any case, it helped me personally not only to find my own creative direction, but also became a good methodological and technical aid in my pedagogical work.

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Tulips in yellow

It happened eight years ago, when I was invited to teach photography at Izvestia’s journalism school. My course in “Basics of Composition” began in the late fall, when the shooting season was already short and the students were too busy at work or school to devote much time to taking pictures and doing homework. That is when the idea of using scanography as a preliminary step in mastering the basics of photocomposition came, especially since almost all students had scanners.

At first, I, as a “playing coach”, tried to make a scanner by myself. I got carried away, and since then the scanner has become the basic tool for realizing my creative desires and plans. The first objects scanned were flowers, foodstuffs and various objects that surround us everyday in the house, and the first models for scan-portraits were myself and my household members.

Since there are no special programs or technologies for creating scans, I had to do everything myself by trial and error. However, I already had some experience in creating compositions on a sheet of paper, because at the beginning of my photographic career I made photograms – images that are also created without a camera, photochemical method. The technology is as follows: objects are laid out on a sheet of photographic paper in the darkness, or rather under a red light bulb, illuminated with directional light or a magnifier lamp, and then processed with developer and fixer, just like regular photographic prints.

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The most significant works of this direction were included in the world photoanthologies and are connected with the names of the classics of photography of the 20th century: Man Ray and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. You could say that a photogram was the forerunner of scanning. The technology for creating a scanogram is also quite simple: the objects are placed directly on the scanner glass, scanned, and then processed in any graphic editor I use Adobe Photoshop CS3 .

Most of the scanning time is spent creating compositions and laying out objects on an A4 20×30 cm glass plane. Here, centimeters, or sometimes millimeters, of movement of the subject can make the difference. For example, in the “Yellow Tulips” scan of the photographic sketches, Vol. e. The number of “quick” pre-scanning runs was at least twenty fig.2 , and the number of “fast” pre-scanning runs was at least twenty fig.3 . 1 . The black background in my works comes out because the scanner lid is up and remains on during scanning, and the overhead light is off Fig. 3-5 . Since my scanning exercises are mostly done in the evening and even at night my biorhythm is a night owl , I do not need to use a dark cloth to create the effect of blackness. In another example fig. 2 After the clothespins were finally positioned, they were covered on top with a blue terry towel.

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It is important to note that the depth of field of scanners in the budget segment is small only 1.5-2 cm because they were originally designed for making copies of flat paper originals. But unlike in photo cameras where the lens sharpness is maximal in the center and then its value goes down, in a scanner it is very sharp all over the image field. The optical resolution even of an inexpensive flatbed scanner can exceed 5000 pixels per inch 200 pixels/mm .

If we initially scan an object at 400-600 dpi and then convert it to print format 300 dpi , we can end up with an image of 50×70 to 60×80 cm. Now, however, there are computer programs and plug-ins that allow you to do magnification without loss of quality, even up to several meters.

The only thing that stops us is the huge size of the file, which a home computer may not be able to handle. Also, scans have a wonderful illusion of volume. Because the luminous flux of the scanning lamp decreases rapidly as the distance between the object and the glass surface increases Fig. 3 . I do the final compositional, color or light-tonal if the subject is black and white correction during post-processing.

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Ceramic fish

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And now some “no harm advice” to those who want to get into scanning. The main thing, of course, is your imagination and creativity, as well as your artistic taste and keen sense of composition. But one cannot ignore the technical aspects of creating scans. One of these is dust control. Do not forget that the dust particles which were not removed from the glass when scanning can later grow several times larger when the file is scaled up to the exhibition format, and then it may take up to several hours for the technical retouching. So it is good to dust the glass with a soft cloth before scanning.

Second. If you are scanning sharp or heavy objects such as the Descender lens you can get a good shot of the subject in the darkest possible way. 4 , then, in order not to scratch the glass, put on top of the main additional glass no thicker than 2-4 mm so that the sharpness has not dropped much . To tell the truth, I will still lose sharpness, but I can sharpen it later by applying a filter, for instance Photoshop Sharpen More or Unsharp Mask. You can read about how to do this better and more correctly in any reference book on digital imaging.

The Third. Sometimes it is more interesting to scan not the entire object, but only a part of it or a fragment of it. Small objects under high magnification begin to look very different than they do under standard magnification, t. e. In the usual perception Fig. 5 . A chestnut two meters by three meters on the wall is a wonderful creation of nature and digital technology.

Fourth. Try experimenting with backlighting: table lamps, flashlights, or sunlight from a window or mirror, or other sources that could be used to back or side-light glass objects and transparencies.

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Picasso and Self-Portrait. From the “Dialogues with Artists” project

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Van Gogh and Michael T. From the “Dialogues with Artists” project

Still life is not the only genre of scanography. Portraits made with a scanner is another fascinating area of my work. My first self-portraits were somewhat difficult to make: I had to put my head on the glass like a slab and hold it motionless for the whole 1.5 minutes of scanning. Immovable, because in digital photography, unlike analog photography, the blur is line-stroke, t. e. not very pretty, and part of the image disappears altogether.

After doing scans of single portraits, I moved on to projects. Among them were “Dialogues with Artists” and “Imitations”, which allowed me to immerse myself in the stylistics of my favorite artists – Van Gogh, Picasso, René Magritte, etc. I made my first self-portrait-caricature in the style of Picasso ill. 6 . When creating it, I used a reproduction of the artist’s paintings, my own scan-portrait, which is cloned in Photoshop, and then one of them artistically deformed using the Lens Correction filter.

The breakthrough in portrait scanning came after EPSON got interested in my scans at one of the photoforums and became my sponsor by giving me a lightweight scanner without a slide module which could be placed vertically. That’s when the process of finding models for portraits went faster: friends, colleagues, and students became the main characters of my portrait projects “Transfiguration” and “Identification” fig. 7-10 .

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El Greco and Georgy Kolosov. From the Transfiguration Project

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Alexander K. and a clown mask. From “Identification” project

The goal of the “Transfiguration” project was to explore the boundaries of interaction between painting and photography, and to compare the images created by artists of past centuries with photographic portraits of my contemporaries made using the technique of scanography. It’s an attempt to find emotional and psychological connections, and to create new figurative analogies in time&oacute m juxtaposition.

And the Identity project are portraits of my contemporaries. The long exposure allowed us to focus on their inner state, just as it happened in the early days of photography. It is also the artistic projection of familiar and familiar faces into new semantic, emotional and artistic contexts.

Scanning portraits revealed another technological characteristic of the scanner: the image deforms in width or in length as the face of the portrait moves away from the glass surface, depending on the position of the head of the model relative to the scanner when moving vertically it becomes longer, and when moving horizontally it becomes flattened . On the one hand, it can be considered a technical defect of the scanner, but on the other hand, it is an artistic feature and a style charm.

This is what happened with the work in the style of El Greco fig. 8 . Elongated faces in the artist’s portraits are a distinctive feature of his style. My portrait-scan of Georgy Kolosoff also appears somewhat elongated, which echoes the face of the Apostle Peter in “The Apostles Peter and Paul” 1587-1592 by El Greco. .

The eyes of the people in my scan portraits are most often closed. The reason is that not all people can stop blinking for 1.5-2 minutes while a scan is in progress. It is not harmful from the medical point of view, just not very comfortable for someone. Besides, when a person closes his eyes, he concentrates more on his inner world, which is reflected in his face: it becomes more spiritual and detached from everyday life, more “personal.

To achieve a certain psychological state of the person being scanned, I sometimes play music or tell a joke, or ask them to think about certain episodes in their life. One of the difficult moments was to capture the kiss of my students, young spouses Yulia and Oleg, who were kissing in the small space of a scanner format fig. 10 . It must have been much easier for the models in Rene Magritte’s “Lovers” to stand the test because their faces are covered by a cloth..

I hope that I have piqued the interest of the readers of this magazine with this article, and that perhaps someone will try making a scanner himself and it will become his favorite and serious hobby. I wish the amateur scanner photographers patience, and not to be afraid to experiment and creatively break the rules of composition, for it is beyond the rules that the author’s vision and the most interesting things for the viewer begin.

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René Magritte, Julia and Oleg. From “Dialogues with Artists” project

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