Photograms: Daniel's light and life drawings

Daniel (a.k.a. bangia) is an expert on photogram, which wikipedia explains as: 'A photogram is a photographic image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a photo-sensitive material such as photographic paper and then exposing it to light. The result is a negative shadow image varying in tone, depending on the transparency of the objects used. Areas of the paper that have received no light appear white; those exposed through transparent or semi-transparent objects appear grey.' Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I received a post from him on this particular topic - please welcome our first guest-blogger of the year 2011!!! *cheers and claps* 

Through my photographs I am investigating the nature of photography, explored though experimentation with varied the photographic processes as a means to come to grips with their seemingly magical nature. I am drawn to experiment with materials and techniques for producing images and have sought to use a variety of photographic methods such as pinhole cameras, daguerreotypes, digital image making and photograms. These differing processes have provided a means of exploring the ideas of theorists and generating concepts for artworks. While the methods vary they share the common elements of a recording surface, a subject, and the action of light. 

Four Flowers
Little Robot
To some degree my way of working has a trial and error methodology that helps my thinking processes, for it pushes me to question assumptions about photography. For example, to what degree is there any contact between the subject and the image produced? How do different production methods give the image maker greater or lesser degrees of control over the end result? In creating images in response to my readings on the trace, I am struck by four things. Firstly, it is the nature of the touch, the contact between what is depicted and the image that is implicit in writings about photographs as traces. Secondly, it is how this touch has been equated by some to give photographs a metaphysical dimension, a capacity to transmit the aura of their subject. Thirdly, it is the idea that the trace depends on contingency, and although the camera is a mechanism for control, the image gains veracity though the removal of agency. Finally, it is the idea that the trace connects the photograph to “reality” and gives it claims to veracity beyond other images.

Drifting In The Light
Flame Tree: This is a pinhole photograph combined with a photogram. 
The photogram is a flame tree flower and the photograph 
has been taken of the tree the flower came from. 
It is kind of like a combination of a photograph and fingerprint, two forms of trace.  
It’s not Where I Left It: a photogram of an old hp sauce bottle 
that turned up in the alleyway down the back of my house. 
Photograms look like ghosts I think. 
I consider the most direct examples of the photograph as a trace are to be seen in photograms, the most simple form of light drawing. These images are produced by placing objects on photosensitive paper which is then exposed to light. The image is then fixed. Photograms were produced by pioneers of photography such as Fox Talbot who used it to make images of lacework, and Anna Atkins who produced was is regarded as the first published photobook with a series of images of algae. The process does away with the lens to render the image and creates an impression of the thing, more like the footprint. As footprint in sand is a negative, preserving an inverted impression in the same sense that the photogram shows an absence, rather than the subject. The photogram records the action of blocking light from reaching the photographic paper. What attested to is the absence of the thing it depicts, not the thing itself. They record an obstruction, recording the parts of the paper that the light cannot reach because the contact between the paper and the object. This is the action that leaves the impression and creates the image. In making the image the object is in contact with the paper and a trace is left. But what the photogram shows is not the object but its action in resisting the flow of light against the recording medium. It is recording an event, showing that an object, for a time, was in contact with the paper and protected it from the blackening effect of the light. 

It Curves Away from the Light: 
I found this dried out twig out the front of my house, it looks like a sparkler. 

Sleep: The tintypes I have been making come out yellow on black. 
Watching the image appear as you process it is fascinating. 
I love the errors that come from the coating process too. 
Sometimes the best things come from mistakes. 
by Daniel 
edited and posted by H.N. 


Anonymous said...

The four flowers look like 4 dancers to me. Good works!!!

M. said...

Sleep looks dark and eerie yet calm in a very saddening way... OK I'm rambling, but its beauty is so hard to put into words. Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

Awesome technique!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A.P. said...

I had to google more about photogram - never heard of the technique before reading your post. Thanks Daniel :) Really amazing pics!

T. said...

Very educational indeed :D

Anonymous said...

This is like recording what's there and what's NOT there, very clever. Love your works Daniel!!!!

Anonymous said...

LOVE LOVE this series of guest-posts and interviews <3

April said...

Absolutely beautiful!!!

Hien said...

YESES I'm glad everybody loves them. I adore their delicacy <3

Anonymous said...


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