Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: scanning



Yesterday I had the urge for some creative play so I gathered several small objects - a piece of ammonite, a dried piece of root or lichen, curled bark, shells, dried flowers, and dried pomegranates. I placed an object on my scanner and covered it with either a black or cream cloth, selected a high resolution and magnification and scanned away. The results were very exciting with good depth of field and great detail. The ones with dark cloth remind me of old Dutch paintings.

Above is one with a piece of root or lichen, a bit smaller than the palm of my hand that I'd picked off a beach long ago. Isn't it amazing? Of course you can't see it here very well in this low resolution and small size, but when I looked at it full screen size, guess what I discovered there - a tiny dead but fully intact insect with its wings spread out. I've cut out that portion and blown it up some more - can you see it in the image below?


I had fun and felt a surge of creative energy and even learned some new scanning tricks. Sometime I may post some more of these scans. I may never use these images in my art work, but you never know. The mind processes these experiences and images over a long time and out they may appear much later, perhaps incorporated in a new way in new work. What was that saying by Picasso about being open to everything one sees and feels and that may become a painting... or something like that?

That reminds me, recently there was some discussion of whether scans are photographs. What do you think - are these not essentially photographs?

Marja-Leena | 25/01/2006 | 10 comments
themes: Being an Artist, Nature, Photoworks, Tools and technology


Scanning is fun! You got great results on small items!

This scan looks beautiful, and what a delightful surprise! Scanning is great: I use it a lot as a starting point for my images. Scanning leaves directly, for instance produces a better reproduction of the colours and marks etc. than I can with my normal camera.
And yes, scanning is photography. I hope you have lots of fun.

I scan things a lot too, for artistic purposes, like melted wax or dried pallet paint...I might call them "digital media" pieces, especially if you open them in PhotoShop to adjust the exposures or crop or anything like that. I think photographs explain in part, the mechanics used to produce the's really semantics I guess.

The important thing is that they (as in yours) look really cool!

Sikuri, Omega and Elise - Thanks for the positive comments and for sharing your own experiences! I've done scanning for quite some years but always with a definite purpose in mind. I guess this time it was with a laissez-faire attitude, a let's-just-see-what-happens-if-I-do-this mood. I think we all need to do this kind of free experimentation and play from time to time, in between serious projects - it helps to get the creative juices flowing!

Marja-leena: I loved your scans! The root I think is the roots of bulb kelp. I often found those in Kodiak, with the stalk still attached. The roots contain all kinds of little treasures: barnacles, bugs, other shells and stones. They are very lovely when dried. In fact, the kelp heads look like alien flowers when dried. My sister had a gorgeous arrangement of them for years in a raku pot in her bathroom.
I love my scanner, too. It gives me better results than my digital camera, some times!

Oh Jackie, is that what it is!? There's a lot of bull kelp on the west coast of Vancouver Island where I picked this up. It's so delicate that I would not have thought it to be a part of such a tough plant! I've kept it on a windwsill for years now, and I think this insect just came later and stayed forever. I've seen gorgeous baskets made from kelp.

It's beautiful. Looks like a brain to me. A brain scan!

Thanks qB! and gosh I didn't think of a brain scan, heh heh!!

Great images. Yep, they're photos. You should give yourself the freedom to play around with no goals in mind more often! (And I should get my stupid scanner fixed.)

Thanks Dave, and yes I must do more playing, and yes, get that scanner fixed! With your photographer's eye I bet you'd do some great stuff!