Experimental Photo Post-Processing / 2023
During my final semester at the Rhode Island School of Design, I enrolled in a Graphic Design workshop to complete my remaining elective studio credits for graduation. This four-week workshop, “PhotoGraphic,” led by Franz Werner, served as an introduction to the intersection of photography—particularly digital photography—and graphic design.
Although I already had a background in photography (including earning a high school fine arts diploma with a project focused on infrared film photography and darkroom techniques), this course temporarily reinvigorated my passion. Initially, I enrolled in the workshop intending it to be a light commitment, merely a means to wrap up my credits while focusing on my degree project. Yet, as the course unfolded, I unexpectedly found myself deeply immersed in a captivating exploration I hadn't anticipated
Bloom—a captivating optical lens effect—has always been a sought-after stylistic feature in various artistic disciplines. In video gaming, for instance, replicating bloom is a complex task due to the high rendering demands. This challenge piqued my interest, leading me to experiment with capturing images of reflective surfaces or intense light sources. I did this by setting my DSLR lens to its widest aperture and adjusting the manual focus as close as possible to the lens opening. The resultant images, inherently blurry and out-of-focus, were not difficult to capture. The real challenge, however, lay in isolating the bloom after the fact.
For the workshop's final, we were tasked with creating a “look book” from the photos we had taken during the class. Given it was my last chance to make a book while at school, I decided to focus on the whole book aspect instead of worrying too much about the usual graphic design and layout intricacies.
With light as the central theme of this project, I needed the book itself to exhibit a degree of translucence, allowing natural light to play upon the toner prints. Testing proved vellum to be the best option for this effect. The desire to have each spread showcase a full image—without any interference from prints on the reverse side—posed challenges too. Perfect binding wasn't an option due to sections of the prints would be lost in the fold of the spine. Likewise, using more than one page per signature could cause print overlays.
I purchased the last of the clear white vellum from Paperworks in Pawtucket for this book. I carefully folded them into individual signatures. To prevent the inherently delicate vellum from tearing during the folding and binding phase, I fortified each spine using Japanese art restoration tissue. This tape material was sturdy enough to hold the vellum intact, yet its finesse ensured it remained invisible when viewed against a backlight. I freestyle my own method of winding a sewing thread through each signature’s folds, giving it a sturdy yet airy and delicate look.
At the RISD Co-Works facility, I utilized a UV printer equipped with both CMYK and White inks. In an unconventional approach, I printed the images directly into the bound book. Placing the blank vellum book within the UV printer, open to one spread at a time, the printing head moved back and forth, depositing the abstract bloom patterns and gradients directly onto the open spreads. Even coloring the white sewing thread used to bind the signatures together.