Solarising in Photoshop
Solarisation is a phenomenon in photography, it is when a print is partially reversed in tone, for example lighter parts become dark, although this change in tone isn't as dramatic as the actual negative, instead it gives various shades of greys within the print. I've explain below how to achieve this effect in photoshop and practically in the darkroom.
Man Ray (born 1890) was an American modernist, his works included various media such as photograms which he referred to as 'Rayograph' int reference to himself, illustration, fashion and portrait photography (often avant grade style) and solarisation. This inspire due to try out this technique for myself.These hands that Ray solarised reminded me of a negative, I think that the exposure time under the light after developer wasn't long at all because ether are lighter than my own attempts.
These lilies didn't look solarised to me, I think that he used the effect minimally here with a very short exposure under light time and not letting th image come throughout much at all rather than letting it have a very contrasted and dark solarisation by exposing the developing print under the light for a full second.
Above is my print that I previously scanned in, I used this as my first attempt. whatever photograph you use, you have to make sure it is black and white or convert it to black and white before you start the editing.
1. I clicked the layer tab, new adjustment layer, curves and then click ok.
2. Clicking the pencil icon, starting from the bottom left hand corner where the input and output shown below is 0, I drew an inverted V as straight as I could (below).
3. I clicked on the freeform selection tool to bring up small boxes you can see on my drawn curve below, this allowed me to move them around in any direction until I was happy with the solarised effect my photograph was given.
My first attempt, it turned out exactly how solarisation is meant to look and what I've seen from the darkroom, I think that I will prefer using the darkroom because although the tones are perfect there, the shapes are slightly outlined where their edges are and it gives it quite a sharp and unnatural looking effect because it makes it too patchy which doesn't look as professional and flawless.
I experimented which adjust the brightness and contrast, although this still looked solarised in the background, the whites of the face started to appear, ruining the idea of solarisation being a reversed effect or looking like a negative, the face should have been dark to do this and I preferred my first attempt without the extra editing. Her face here reminded me of an x-ray, the shining through of the bone structure, leaving her sockets where the bones wouldn't be which I thought was quite interesting because of the ghostly and super natural appearance.With my press print here which is shown earlier in my blog, I wouldn't be able to solarise in the darkroom because it would all develop rather than leave the shattered shapes so I decided to try it out in photoshop to see what effect I would get. I like the dark background and the x-ray effect on the hair, the face looks quite normal and isn't exactly solarised because the colour hasn't reversed properly because of how light the tones originally were but I still liked how it was like a reflection, droplets were on it which I thought could represent somebody's shattered reflection, or even something ghostly if you see it as looking back at you from the glass with a drowning rippled effect.
Solarising in the Darkroom
Before I started I made sure that another enlarger in the room was set to a second in timing, full contrast and extremely bright lighting of 5 ready to use for later in the processing.
1. To do this I exposed my paper for the appropriate time/contrast/lighting as usual.
2. After that I put it in the developer but the important part is too take it out as soon as you see your image coming through on the paper before it has fully appeared.
3. Quickly I took it to the enlarger that was set for a second and exposed it under this high lighting for that amount of time. The timing for different negatives can vary on this exposure but usually is a second and trial and error will decide if this is too long or not long enough depending on the empty white spaces on the negative which usually come out much darker and can look over exposed.
4. I then took it back to the developer and left it there as normal until it had the right tones and contrast that I wanted (showing that it had developed enough) and had the solarised effect on it.
5. Finally, place the print in the stop for 2 minutes and the fix for 5 minutes like every print we make, before rinsing it and leaving it to dry or using the drying machine.
I wanted to try and solarise this composition because of how contrasting the tones were considering light and dark space. I hadn't developed it before so following my test strip and results of other photographs I had taken from this setting I though that 18 seconds on a full contrast with light 16 would be the right choice, to me the above looked too light meaning underexposed and as if it was fading, also lacking contrast, so I decided to up the time to 24.
Above is my result on 24 seconds which was perfect in terms of contrast, exposure and the limited developing time I had given it.
Here is the solarisation, for a first attempt I thought that it came out perfectly, the lighter greys really showed the shape and line detail in the photograph, it also made the day time sky look light night. I think that the texture of the bench and trees, even the grass has been highlighted particularly well here, I can see the line son the bench which look as if they would feel bumpy, and the fluffiness of the trees because of the tonal changes in their shadowed parts and sunlit parts. I can see each strand of grass individually because of the light originally shown on it has been reversed to darkness allowing the shape of the strands to stand out and look very 3 dimensional rather than flat. it is odd how an unnatural effect on a photograph can make it seem more realistic and easier to imagine that you're actually there. Also, I can see where the sun is coming from and this works effectively because it is shining straight onto my subject/model from the outside of the photograph, peering in naturally which is the best light to use when photographing in natural light.
Knowing the timings for this negative I followed the procedure, when it was completed I though it looked slightly too dark and I could gain more contrast in it so I reduced the after developer exposing enlarger to 0.5 seconds instead to lessen the light that will hit it.
Here is my 0.5 second result, the lighter greys came out lighter which I preferred it, it looked correct rather than slightly over exposed. I thought that the detail and magical look of the leaves was taken away here, it is more about shape and is quite blocked rather than showing each little part of it which the original did - for example tones and lines within each of the original shapes allowing the light to make an effective impact.Here I put the enlargers time back up to a second. The result I got here was very effective because the dark shape on her face was created by the smoke she was blowing out of her mouth, it was like it symbolised how smoking can destroy your inside or be unhealthy because it has defaced her in this composition. The over exposure on the chest also marks where the lungs and breathing system are which are the parts of the body mostly effected. I also like the the bench marks are very visible here like the long shot of her sitting on the bench but more close up and easier to pick out, the shadows looks blended whilst the lines have an opposite effect and sharply stand out, presenting harsh surroundings.
This one didn't work properly, I think that there was too much white space which was easily over exposed, I also saw what it would look like if it wasn't exposed whilst I was developing it but it was too late to keep it that way, also it didn't look great because the contrast wasn't very clear at all. I coudl also see marks which had some how been mad eon the negative on the side of her face which made it looks quite uneven in tone and produced quite messily.
Finally this one was one of my favourites because the smoke caused a similar effect on her face but this times looked less exposed and worked more effectively because of the tones slowly becoming darker and blending into her face, showing them as eating away and ruining. Her dark lipstick and eye shadow comes out really well here and contrasts, relating it back to its fashion theme. The bench looks slightly over exposed here but I think in this composition the smoke on her face is more important in terms of what it symbolises and the way the make-up looks.