Sunday, September 05, 2010


click photo to enlarge
Today's photograph is the result of my efforts to reduce the amount of junk we have. During my sifting of the useful, the not so useful and the downright useless that is stored in various rooms and locations around our house I came across an old computer motherboard. It is one that my youngest son had discarded during one of the upgrades that he performed on his machine in recent years. As anyone who has assembled their own computer will know, incremental improvements are possible, but every now and again - say after five years or so - a major upgrade involving the replacement of the motherboard, memory, graphics card and often the hard drive, is desirable, if not necessary. It was the innards that resulted from one such disembowelling that I came across during my tidying. As I held the motherboard up to examine its vintage the sunlight streaming in through the window caught it and, for a brief second, the circuit boards and components had a look of solarization about them.

Anyone with an interest in the history of art or photography in the twentieth century will have come across this photographic technique, usually in connection with the artist Man Ray (1890-1976). Solarization occurs when light and dark areas are partly reversed in tone. It was known during the time of Daguerre, but what Man Ray did was to deliberately use the effect that his assistant, Lee Miller, discovered (in fact re-discovered), when she accidentally exposed an already exposed film to light during developing.

I used software to achieve the effect on a photograph that I took of the motherboard - hence my use of "pseudo" in the title of the image. Digital imaging allows the effect to be applied to shots in black and white or colour: to the best of my knowledge Man Ray and the other photographers who used this effect only applied it to monochrome images. By making adjustments with my software's "sliders" I was able to turn the blues, browns and silver of the PCB and its components into something quite different, and in so doing change the emphasis of different parts of the photograph. I don't use too many "effects" in my photography, but this one suggested itself and it seems to me to suit the subject.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f11
Shutter Speed: 1/6
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On