Silver leaf © Julian KöpkeHeucheria leaf © Julian KöpkeFern © Julian KöpkeThuja conifer © Julian KöpkeThuja (Abendländischer Lebensbaum) © Julian KöpkeClematis I © Julian KöpkeTendrils © Julian KöpkePoppy capsule © Julian KöpkeBlooming thistle at the former railroad tracks © Julian KöpkePoppy © Julian KöpkeBlossfeldt Acorn © Julian KöpkeVetch © Julian Köpke
If you ever have the opportunity to see the work of the photographic pioneer Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932), then perhaps you will also be as moved and fascinated as I am time and again. In 2014, Taschen-Verlag Cologne published a book about him entitled „Karl Blossfeldt The Complete Published Work“ (ISBN 978-3-8365-5072-7), which I have kept near my bedside table for years.
Karl Blossfeldt was interested in the forms that occur in nature and which he understood as „archetypes“. His main work was published in 1928 under the title „Urformen der Natur“ (translated version as „Art Forms in Nature“, 1928) and became an international bestseller.
On his way to college, he collected plants that he used as a source of inspiration for his work as a professor of decorative arts. His photographic works are monochromatic and usually made by placing the object on photosensitive paper. Technically, therefore, they are actually to be addressed as photograms and not as photographs, because the image was not based on any imaging optics. X-ray images are also photograms, but with a central beam geometry. Therefore, in a very free interpretation, Karl Blossfeldt’s works could be placed in the middle between photography and X-ray images.
The images in this gallery are created with photographic optics and a digital sensor. Photographs of plants or better: parts of plants, which highlight selected structures, are excellently suited for a monochrome presentation. Harold Davis describes one way of creating the look-and-feel of a Blossfeldt image with the help of a photograph. Harold calls the result „The Blossfeldt effect“.
Melitta was looking for an image in her new kitchen. She felt a fusion image of a fruit basket to be too dark. The fusion image technique is not restricted to black and white or monochrome (FAQ: Fusion imaging). With only few structural content in the X-ray of the fruits I better inverted the background of the image and sponsored a golden backdrop like an ancient greek icon. You still can see some X-ray properties looking at the lychees or the bananas. As a print its appearance was best.
Also appropriate for a kitchen would also be an image of an artichoke. If I put it on a lightbox, there is always some resemblance to a copperplate print, which I like personally. This blooming artichoke is a type of a food image, if you spend some phantasy.
A little change of perspective gives more direct access to the blooms. Every image shown in this blog entry is a combination of manual HDR and software assisted HDR. That way I get best results. The background helps to create the look and feel of ageing and simulating a print.
The artichoke presented above has some resemblance to a thistle. By chance we have a place not far from home with lots of them. Old railroad tracks had been removed and converted into bike trails nearby our house. So we went this morning by bike to get a thistle of the former track bed for an image.
As there is so much structure in these images, I felt tempted to convert my artichoke and thistle images into monochrome. To some extent they resemble images of Karl Blossfeldt.
Backgrounds create a new image impression. Sometimes you need a background to add to the picture some more pizzazz. In these pictures I use the background to simulate a photographic base as I saw it in Karl Blossfeldt’s pictures.
The starting point is always a color image. With a background named „Aged Board“ the color image already shows an attractiveness of its own.
The Black & White conversion enhances the contrast a bit which is why I’m adding a little glow.
From another Heucheria leaf, which shone in a wonderful red, I show here only the black and white conversion with background. This makes the reproduction of its structure much better.
So often I tried to image a Heucheria leaf. It doesn’t seem complicated. With less saturation the impression of a water color image emerges of a single leaf.
Going on with my Blossfeldt studies I need a background for this image. An image with background exerts a special charm. A paper structure fits well.
Only the conversion to black and white comes closer to the impression of a Blossfeldt macro.
Karl Blossfeldt was a German photographer who lived from 1865 to 1932. He didn’t think himself a photographer. With his studies of plant forms he made an enormous contribution to plant photography. Here is a nice wikipedia article about him.
He started to do photograms. Plants or parts of plants were placed directly on film or paper suitable for exposure. Exposure then takes place without any optics. Later he built himself a wooden camera, which reminds me of Andreas Feininger.
Black and white backlit macro images with a background can be similar to Blossfeldt’s images.