No Camera? No Problem!: Surreal Scanographs
No longer is a scanner meant just for recording documents. Supriya Joshi tells us exactly how your scanner can transform into a camera to capture some curious images.
H ave you ever wondered about the way a scanner works? Most of us own this contraption, but have never thought about making pictures with one. Here is how you can make stunning and sometimes surreal compositions, using this household device.
What is Scanography?
Simply put, this is a technique that involves making images using a scanner. It is the process of scanning an object placed on the scanner’s glass plate. Scanography is great for making close-up photographs of subjects of varied sizes. One can even make self portraits with this method.
Difficulty Level: 1/5
A Multipurpose Instrument
If you think about it, a scanner is equivalent to a camera, in the sense that it effectively aids you in recording something. Regardless of what you place on the glass plate, the scanner converts it to a digital file that you can view on your computer.
Switch off all the lights in the room to create black backgrounds.
Handle with Care!
Before you begin, you must take a few precautions that should be followed with every scanograph you make. Begin by gently wiping the surface of the glass plate with a lint-free cloth, so that there are no smudges, dust or spots visible in the final photograph. Be careful while using sharp objects, as they can potentially harm the glass plate of the scanner and leave scratches.
A New Approach to Macro
Did you know that the optical resolution of most flatbed scanners can exceed 5000 pixels per inch? The depth-of-field of a scanner is about 12mm, and the subject closest to the glass bed is captured sharp. These specifications, coupled with its light source, make a good premise to practise close-up photography. For instance, to make a scanograph of dried flowers, place them on the scanner’s glass plate. If your scanner allows it, opt for a preview of the scanograph, make your adjustments, and then wait for the final image to be recorded.
Plenty of subjects can be made into scanographs, and you can also experiment with objects that are not flat. Because of a scanner’s depth-of-field, it makes large subjects appear more three dimensional. Subjects like books, fruits, shoes and paperweights can be used.
With scanography, you have complete control over the way your subjects and their colours look in the final photo. Since you will not be closing the scanner’s door, you have the freedom to rearrange your subjects several times.
Unlike traditional forms of photography, your organisational and decorative skills come into play with this technique. This also gives you an opportunity to completely break the rules and go as unconventional as possible with your frames.
Choice of Backgrounds
The reach of the scanner’s light is not strong enough to capture anything beyond the subject. However, eventhe slightest amount of external light can disturb the frame. If you want the background to be black, you need to work in a darkened room. Black acts as a neat, clean background and draws attention to the subject, giving it more emphasis. Subjects like house keys and other curios look great against black.
Alternatively, you can also control the backgrounds of your scanographs to have whatever colour or texture you want. You can choose from a host of different coloured materials—from crêpe paper to napkins, and simply place them behind your subject! For even more unusual perspectives, you can mix in your own artwork, perhaps a sketch you created!
Work with Liquids
If you are one of those who have a more out-of-the-box approach to art and photography, you can try scanographing liquids.
Egg yolk, paints, oil—practically any liquid you place on the scanner will create some surreal perspectives. But before you scan any liquid, make sure that you place a clear plastic sheet on the plate, otherwise the moisture can damage the scanner. Scanography gives you a lot of scope to make very imaginative frames. Try using several patterns with different objects, create collages—the possibilities are endless!
Use Your Scanner to Make Unique Self Portraits
Narcissists, rejoice! Let us present you with an additional technique to make interesting self portraits, without using a camera
When you are tired of the traditional, and want a more unusual flavour in your self portraits, you should consider giving scanography a try.
Approach with Caution
Before you start making scanographs of yourself, you must protect your eyes. The scanner’s light can be harmful, so ensure your eyes are closed or covered with your hands during the process.
Experiment with Poses
To begin with, position your face over the scanner’s bed and start the scan. Experiment with how you place your head on the scanner, try out various kinds of poses, and even position body parts, such as hands, in different ways.
The DOF of a scanner is about 12mm, making it a great device for close-up Erdenechimeg Bat-Erdene photography.
Define Who you Are
Let your scanographs showcase your likes, dislikes and hobbies. When you are making a scanograph of yourself, place the items that you use frequently, or you collect, on the scanner bed. For example, if you are fond of collecting coins or stamps, you can place them around your face like a collage.
To learn about more non-camera photography techniques, click here.
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Better Photography.
Tags: Shooting Technique, Supriya Joshi, better photography, scanography, May 2012, No Camera? No Problem!, Scanning, Scanographs, Photography without Camera, Non-Camera photography