In this post I'm going to write about ashes. Fireplace ashes, to be specific, which means the ashes of oak trees from my childhood home in New Jersey, chopped by my father and brought to Massachusetts for Marguerite and me to burn.
These images are quick mock-ups of potential, finished work that I made using the "light table" feature of Mac's Aperture program (that's why they have those little white boxes in the lower righthand corners). Each one is composed of individual shots of petrograph designs, created using the Grand Canyon shadow pebbles.
I shot these outside in my backyard in July. I filled a large Pyrex baking dish with fireplace ashes and then arranged the pebbles in the ashes according to different designs. The different colors are achieved entirely from shooting the pebbles at different times of day: dawn (God help me), noon, late afternoon, and dusk, just before dark. The line of AfterImages was shot at dawn, around 8am, noon, 5pm, 8pm, and 8:45pm.
The image below is the World Clock Series--each pebble's shadow representing the same moment at the Grand Canyon, La Paz, Bolivia, Tasiilaq, Greenland, and Cardiff, Wales--shot, clockwise, at dawn, noon, 5:30pm, and 8:30pm.
I created designs based on the World Clock Series, the Canyon Sundial Series, the AfterImage shape, and several abstract patterns. It was fun but as always, there was a learning curve. I took me awhile to realize I was shooting some of the pebbles upside down, so I had to make a big post-it note about that and stick it on the pyrex dish. And then any indentations in the ashes--fingerprints, pebbleprints, whatever--showed up on film, especially when the sun was low and casting shadows, so I had to make sure the layer of ashes was perfectly smooth. Here's an example of what it looked like when the ashes weren't smooth:
Very moon-like, and kind of cool, except that the ash-shadows distracted from the pebbles.
I got very dirty doing this, and the dog's black coat was streaked in ashes. The mosquitos, especially while I was taking the dusk shots, were fierce.
I also took black and white shots on my film camera, but I'm saving those for another entry...