New year, new ideas. A superbe bowl of fruits inspired me to do more X-ray fusion photography today. I got a bundle of bananas, lots of lychees, two pears, figs, an apple and a pomegranate.
I changed my technique a bit. There is no chance to get a transparent banana image using a photo. But mixing the colors of the photo with the X-ray is also a fusion image. To my opinion, the bananas came out lovely, especially the color of the trunk.
I like stills. They often come with a fruit bowl. My first attempt was a fruit bowl without lychees. The structure of an orange or a pomegranate is known to me from earlier X-ray studies. And I liked the grain of the wooden bowl.
The following fusion image is resulting:
This is the first time I tried to x-ray lychees. I piled them up in my wooden bowl. That way it was a bit less complicated to transport them for photography. They shouldn’t move at all between X-ray and photography session. I was lucky.
Combining lychees, bananas, a pear and two figs in a fusion image yields a color explosion in the fusion image.
Last but not least an X-ray fusion photo of all fruit. Color explosion by means of Lab color. The dark blue at the image edges is a good counterweight to the intense yellow of the pears and bananas.
A friend handed me out some snail shells that he had in mind for a long time to lend me. Eventually, he found 5 beautiful shells when cleaning up the basement.
The effect of the images depends strongly on the post-processing. Some of the results may not be combined in one presentation.
Here I show three images of them as dark jewels with an intrinsic undefinable light. Maybe, we are thousand miles below sea level.
Fusion imaging works with a light box. Without, too. It depends on your subject. The light images were taken with a Leica Q, pointing just in the same direction as the X-rays from below of the X-ray tube. The resolution and technology is completely sufficient for the color use.
I designed a new composition, which should allow me to have different positions of the shells in space. The surrounding snail shells serve as supports.
I wanted to take the yellow, quit radiopaque snail shell from above. So I had to rearrange the snail shells once more.
When looking at my flickr stream you may find other representations in the preceding neighborhood of this image.
This X-ray fusion image is untrue. No time during working hours to take the photograph. So I made a photo this morning at home. There are so many snail shells glued on the sphere that it is basically not noticeable if the rotation does not match exactly.
Here is my result:
The underlying structure in an image of visible light looks like this:
Harold says: 9 out of ten attempts fail. That’s a good consolation. What happened ?
A company and I could not agree on the fee for an annual calendar 2020. I liked the selection of the proposed pictures, consisting of flower macros and fusion images with X-ray. „Don’t call us, we call you !“
I’m not a merchant and I don’t live on sales. But how many have to listen to such sentences every day.
With a little help from my elder daughter I did the calendar on my own.
A friend gave me a shell of a spider conch to make more fusion images. The scientific name of the spider conch is lambis lambis and it is a sea snail. There is a nice Wikipedia article on it.
The hard shell with a lot of radiopaque lime made me doubt the success of my X-rays. On top, my first attempt at a HighKey image wasn’t really convincing. Only the combination of a normal photography for the color, a HighKey image for a transparency effect together with the X-ray image resulted in nice image.
The X-ray image appear less lively, but full of formal power. The orientation of the animal is conveyed by the photographically reproduced color. There are only minimal hints wich orientation the X-ray has.
These are the corresponding X-ray images:
It feels like very long ago. Harold and I were taking the shots and X-rays of new compositions last week of April this year. Our first try was an orchid with two stems. The transparency effect is very much augmented using an X-ray. A stem behind petals doesn’t show easily in HDR light box photography.
With a Phase One camera at my disposal a strong crop of the composition shows the tenderness of our orchid much better. With a resolution still sufficient.
First flowers in spring show up. With much support from my colleagues I’m able to do some fusion images. We all would like to have another calendar.
Preparing the lightbox, the X-ray machines, my camera and picking out the data is a bunch of hassle.
My personal favorite is the blue cornflower. It looks like a print of an old botanic book:
The next day I turned my attention to our white and blue Aquilegias. No chance to process the raw data yesterday. Eventually, there was a chance today, after quite a bit of tedious work at my desk:
Fusion imaging is a method full of surprise. My red calla lilies revealed an effect I had forgotten completely. There must be a gradient in every X-ray exposure.
Preparing a fusion image composition with my 6 red calla lilies I found a troublesome gradient in the X-ray.
The cause for the gradient is a weakening of X-ray radiation at its origin in the X-ray tube. A closer look at the phenomenon can be found in my FAQ. This effect of variable recording of photons phycisists call „anode heel effect“.
As part of my creative process I rotated the composition shown above by 180 degrees and exposed it a second time with the same parameters. Note that post-production as well was done equally for both X-ray exposures !
I assume that everyone has had at some point the experience where less was more. Especially when dealing with computer based image postproduction. Software makes handy wonderful, or better: powerful, filters. Experienced artists know that only a pinch of something or homeopathy is a key to better results.
The same holds true in X-ray production. A maximum of energy does not provide better images. Let’s look closer at this point.
What is the influence of energy to X-ray images ?
Higher energies in X-rays mean shorter wavelengths and a higher resolution. Therefore it might seem reasonable to increase the energy in our X-ray tubes always to the maximum to produce incredible images based on a maximum resolution.
With four images below I show the influence of increased energy levels on X-ray images of a single rose. The applied energy levels are 40kV, 60kV, 90kV and 109kV. The steps of postproduction were the same in every image. Slight differences are owed to best contrast in each exposure.
Surprisingly to the novice we get an increasing loss of contrast (or less available contrast) in each image with higher energies. This effect of loosing contrast can easily be seen in this series of four X-rays and is highest at 109kV.
The explanation for less available contrast with higher energies is the following physical effect: the more photons have shorter wavelengths the more photons run unaffected through the object down onto the sensor. With all photons running through without any hindrance the sensor would show a homogenous gray value.
Every structure looses contrast when turning to higher energies. The optimum for a structure is found by experience and varies significantly.
In the medical field the applied energy strongly depends on the purpose of the examination and the structural demands to be diagnosed.
The above demonstrated meaningless low contrast for our single rose at 109kV doesn’t hold true at all in radiology. Radiologists use frequently 125kV for a chest film to get reproducibly valuable contrast in most patients.
Fusion imaging is beauty made of composite X-ray images and HDR images on a light box. The primary question is what energy fits best for flowers. To my experience 40 kV is often suitable. But: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Mammography systems start e.g. from 20 kV and reach 39 kV. The sensor is up to 24cm x 30cm. Conventional systems start from 40 kV and reach 125 kV. The sensor is up to 43cm x 43cm what makes them more attractive to floral compositions.
The higher resolution and the lower energies of a mammography will suit better for transparent objects. But the spatial limit of a composition (which is 24cm x 30cm) might put hard restrictions on the artist.
Floral compositions have more creative space with a bigger sensor. But the X-ray tube starts with 40 kV and this might lead to overexposure of tender structures.
Thus I performed today more than ten compositions to study this relation.
After four exposure of three tulips I found this composition with four dense blossoms attractive to go further. The composition might somehow resemble to a sketch of three angels. The image is nice due to very soft edges of their „wings“, technically blown out portions in the image. The inner structure of the nearly closed blossoms is well resolved. The stalks serve as „body“. There is no advantage with higher energies.
The same composition was done immediately after the X-ray as a bracketing series on a lightbox. After returning I processed a manual HDR, the colors not to warm.
The final fusion image is a composite of the preceding two images. Compared to the lightbox photo, the hidden stalks reappear naturally, the inner petals are outlined like a sketch.