Negative spin

FLORA HAS found a way to flourish in the dark -- a darkroom, to be exact. Los Angeles-based commercial photographer Christine Caldwell has been working on a new twist on an old technique that converts photographic subject matter into negatives, and thus a new, more colorful version. The leafy images can be seen in her first fine art show, “Illuminated Negatives,” at Gallery 618E at the Brewery in Los Angeles.

Her chosen specialty is botanical specimens, mainly leaves and flowers. The process exposes vibrant lilac and blue hues that pop against the pitch-black background as if backlighted, creating an almost psychedelic effect.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors and am attracted to the visual composition and contrast of leaves, snowflakes and plants,” said Caldwell of her source of inspiration, “so I brought them into the darkroom to experiment.”

The images are an updated version of the classic photogram, which is similar to an X-ray. A shadow-like photograph is made by placing objects between light-sensitive paper and a light source. Once the objects are removed from the paper, that particular arrangement vanishes, creating a one-of-a-kind print. The roots of the photogram process can be traced to the mid-1800s, reaching popularity in post-World War I artist communities in Europe.

Twenty-four limited-edition prints will be on display through Sept. 6.


-- Liesl Bradner