Dream of the Japanese Maple

“It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them.” (Man Ray)

A photogram is a photographic image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a light-sensitive material such as photographic paper and then exposing it to light.

The technique is sometimes called cameraless photography. It was used by Man Ray in his exploration of rayographs. Other artists who have experimented with the technique include László Moholy-Nagy, Christian Schad (who called them “Schadographs”), Imogen Cunningham and Pablo Picasso. Variations of the technique have also been used for scientific purposes.

Some of the first photographic images made were photograms. William Henry Fox Talbot called these photogenic drawings, which he made by placing leaves and pieces of material onto sensitized paper, then left them outdoors on a sunny day to expose. This produced a dark background with a white silhouette of the object used.

From 1843, Anna Atkins produced a book titled _British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions_ ; it was the first book to be illustrated with photographs. The images were all photograms of botanical specimens, which she made using Sir John Herschel’s cyanotype process, which yields blue images.

Photograms were used in the 20th century by a number of photographers, particularly Man Ray, who called them “rayographs”. His style capitalised on the stark and unexpected effects of negative imaging, unusual juxtapositions of identifiable objects (such as spoons and pearl necklaces), variations in the exposure time given to different objects within a single image, and moving objects as the sensitive materials were being exposed.

This photo would be a negative of a photogram, had the film image not been taken with my Nikon FE in late October. These are leaves from a Japanese garden that have fallen into a pond.

(Thank you, Wikipedia!)


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