Brian Wesley Rich's
Science Website

Brian's Experimental Photos

This is a gallery of my experimental photography. My primary interests in photography are: Unusual light sources, time exposures, and painting with light. I like to make images from pure light and textures, so many of these images have light itself as their subject matter.
I am interested in science (technology) as a tool for exploring reality AND fantasy.

By the way, if you are in the market for a camera, Best Buy has a good camera buying guide HERE.

This is me!
Circa 1977, when I struck out on my own and really began experimenting with the techniques you see here. I am staring into a strobe source that I rigged up for doing multiple exposure copying of slides. I'm holding the trigger device in my hand.
Kodak Ektachrome Infrared color film, processed in C-22 chemistry to create a negative image.
My "Invasion" photos.
The photograph on the left is titled "New Clear Dawn". Details of the creation of this 2-part composite can be found here.
To me, the image on the right suggests a battery of missiles poised for launch. This image was made using time exposure. The subject was a large neon car wash sign. I had my camera mounted on a tripod. I locked the shutter of my camera open and exposed the scene for about a second. Then I put my hand over the lens, zoomed in a little, and removed my hand to make another exposure. I repeated this for a total of seven exposures. The film was Kodak Photomicrography color film, which is a slow, contrasty film that enhances reds and blues.
Some laser aperture photos.
Light from a HeNe laser was focused through a tiny aperture - using a microscope lens - directly into a 35 mm camera with its lens removed.
There's a great book by T. Kallard called "Laser Art and Optical Transforms". It's out of print, but your city or University library may have it. Or try Amazon. The book has a good discussion of what laser light does when it propagates, and how you can use it as an art form.
I was interested in the look of 2-D grids in 3-D space. So several of the photos on this page are (or contain) images made using quarter-inch hardware cloth. I also did some 16 mm motion picture photography of the shadows created when a point-source light is moved over the grid. It came out rather well. This idea is explored on my "Mini-Maglite" page, which you might want to check out.
If you do moving light time exposures, try converting them to negative images. This is easy to do nowadays using photo editing tools like the GIMP. To get my negative images, I had to process the film as a negative. At the time, I worked in a photo lab, so it was easy to get it done. I don't think you can get the C-22 process today.
This photo is a three-part composite. Each image was created on transparency (slide) film that was processed as a negative. The transparencies were sandwiched together to create the final image, and rephotographed again as a negative.
The background was a grid of hardware cloth. The "moon" was a rusty old iron ball bearing I found somewhere. The streak at the left was created using a stack of dichroic beamsplitters - "cold mirrors" - that Raphael DiLuzio gave me. He got them when the Fotomat lab in Fountain Valley replaced a whole bunch of them in their color printers (Fotomat was also a good source of used HeNe lasers, but that's another story). I stacked them up and photographed the multiple reflections of sunlight.
I used the same slide-sandwich composite technique to create this head image that reminds me of neural pathways in the brain. I was given a plastic head, and I filled it with Christmas tree lights. I photographed both the head and the bare tree on Kodak Ektachrome Infrared color film, and processed them in C-22 to get negatives. Nowadays, you'd just do all the compositing in the computer!
This is a laser "caustic", created by aiming a HeNe laser through an irregular piece of glass - broken glass and cut crystal butter dishes work well - onto film. I think this type of image is much more effective "live". Film (let alone a computer monitor) just doesn't do justice to the infinite resolution of the real thing.
A couple of time exposures of traffic at night, again near that car wash sign. In the original image there's lots of texture created by the strobing of the neon sign that is revealed by smearing it with time exposure. The film was Kodak Photomicrography color film.
This photo was created in a similar way to the two above, except that the camera was moving - traveling at moderate speeds along Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa CA in Alan Caddell's big old station wagon. A striking difference in the look of the images is in their colors: This one was made with Kodak Ektachrome Infrared color film, processed normally in E-4 chemistry. The camera was aimed high to capture the overhead streetlights going by. The final image is inverted.
These images were inspired by the end sequences of Kubrick's "2001 - A Space Odyssey" (1968).
Instead of the slit scan technique used by Douglas Trumbull for 2001, I simply zoomed between multiple exposures.
Kodak Photomicrography color film was processed in C-22 chemistry to create a negative image.
During the time these two photos were made, I was interested in creating images of sprites or faeries. I built some special wand- mounted light sources. One was a red LED powered by a flashing circuit, mounted on a length of stiff wire.
The image at the left was made using this source. I set up some quarter- inch hardware cloth for a background, and made a couple of passes over this background with the camera shutter open. The film was Kodak Ektachrome Infrared Color film, processed in C-22 to produce a negative image.
For the image on the right I used a grain of wheat lamp, and again I powered it via the flashing circuit (a 555 timer IC). For the shot I set up a "lake" of aluminized mylar. Again I opened the shutter and passed the light source over the background. The film was the same, but this time I processed it normally.
Here are a couple of unusual shots. For these, I spread out the beam of a HeNe laser into a horizontal fan using a cylinder lens. Actually the cylinder lens was just a glass stirring rod, held in a vertical position in front of the laser.
In a time exposure I scanned model Doug Smetana from top to bottom while he moved slowly to the side. The green part of the image is the reflected laser light. The rest is ambient light from a mercury-vapor streetlamp. The film was Kodak Ektachrome Infrared.
A couple of "nature studies". Actually, I was looking for textures that I could incorporate into other works. The image on the left, "Fennel", was able to stand up on its own as a finished image. The fern image on the right was too dense to incorporate into other images. So it has just languished in my slide box. Both images were made using Kodak Ektachrome color infrared film, and both were processed as negative images in C-22 chemistry. The image on the left was taken at night using a strobe for illumination. The fern image was taken in broad daylight with the sky as background.
The three images you see here were textures I found in various places. The upper left image is a laser diffraction pattern. I shot the HeNe laser through plastic filter material taken from a pair of "Lazer Spex" glasses (I'm making that name up). These glasses have holographic diffraction gratings in them. You wear them, and they diffract the light into a rainbow of colors. Since laser light is monochromatic, you get a pattern of dots. From the filter, the laser light was aimed directly onto 35 mm film held in my camera. I had the camera lens off at the time.
The upper right image is from a video feedback experiment I was doing. With a video camera aimed at its own monitor, you can get all sorts of "funhouse hall of mirrors" effects. If you tip the camera sideways, you can get swirls. This image was created by placing a screen in front of the monitor. The image of the screen is replicated endlessly on the monitor. For best results, shoot the photo off a second monitor so that the screen itself isn't in the way.
The image on the lower left is a photo of a moire screen I was using for the video feedback experiment. It is a stack of two perforated metal sheets. Rotating the sheets with respect to each other changes the moire pattern you get.

If you are in the market for a camera, Best Buy has a good camera buying guide HERE.

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Updated 03 November 2019

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