Photoelasticity or Birefringence Photography

Photoelasticity also know as birefringence is the effect created using a polarizing filter while photographing transparent plastic with polarized light. This photography trick is fairly easy to do. You just need polarized light, clear plastic, and a polarized filter for your camera. Luckily the source of polarized light is readily available. Computer screens project polarized light. I just googled white screen to make a bright background for my plastic items, placed the items in front of the screen and shot them with a polarized filter. If you look up photoelasticity the most common pictures are of clear plastic cutlery, so I decided to start there. Every time I open packaging now I will consider if I want to try this trick.

Plastic cutlery work well for this project.
I added a filter and vignette. I couldn’t decide what I liked better so I posted both of them.
I started looking around the house for other plastics.
This is crumpled up cellophane.
I tried a variety of plastics some work better than others.
I really liked the colors so I started playing with the distortion.
We use too much plastic packaging on this planet. This was my hearing aid batteries container.
Changing up the background.
I used a kaleidoscope filter here.
Fun with filters.

A quick trip back to Montana

It’s that time of year where I make my annual trip back to Montana to see my mom and ski Big Mountain. (I guess it’s now called Whitefish Ski Resort… but it will always be Big Mountain to me). The trip as always was too short. I took five days off of work but only really had three days there due to travel. I feel I was able to fit everything in but it was a whirlwind of busy. I took my cameras but didn’t have much time for photography. I did take a couple of pictures, some of air travel, skiing, and stuff around my moms house. The video was just something I made during my four hour layover at SeaTac airport, I included it because I thought it was kind of fun.

Getting off the plane I turned around to see this scene.

I liked the contrast of the branches and architecture.

The snow on the trees was nice. I thought I could use this in a future composite picture.

This statue resides on the mountain ski resort. Although I’m not really religious, I try to visit when I ski. I deposited some of my dads ashes here a few years back.

The sunlight through the curtain caught my attention. I tried to make it as abstract as possible.

My Grandfather’s clock.

My moms tea cups

I really liked the way the light hit this hat.

I made a tiny planet picture with my 360 camera while I was up skiing.

I took a picture of the clouds while flying. I figured I could use the clouds later.

I used my 360 camera to take this picture that looks like it was taken outside of the aircraft. This was my first attempt at this shot. I learned a few things for future images.


“Photomontage is the process and result of making a composite photograph by cutting, glueing, rearranging and overlapping two or more photographs into a new image.”- I took this directly from Wikipedia. The most common way to achieve this in the predigital era was to shoot and print a bunch of photos, and then arrange them on a background. With today’s technology it is easy to import a bunch of photos to a photo editor and create these images. Of course I found an app that made it even easier to create some of these photomontages out of a single picture. The app I used was called Panographic. In creating some of these it has made me want to print out some images and physically create one. Then possibly rephotograph that montage…I’ll keep you updated if this ever does transpire.

This first photo is of an old full frame camera. It stood about 5 feet tall, I can’t imagine hauling that around in the day. I liked the background because it reminded me of using chemicals to fix an image back in my darkroom days.

Just messing with a more separated photomontage. I thought the pattern juxtaposed made it interesting. I think I like the original better but it doesn’t fit the theme.

In this one I tried to make it a little more abstract by changing the sizes of stuff like the statues eyes.

Thought I’d do a typical fruit bowl composition.

I used less square pictures here. I liked the branch leading off.

A simple sign composition.

This was my first attempt. I think it’s a little cluttered with images but it still works.

This was the second attempt, now that I know how to use the software better I might have to revisit this.

I included a selfie with my new camera because why not.

The Droste Effect

The Droste effect is named after a Dutch brand of cocoa. The 1904 packaging of the cocoa depicts a woman holding a tray bearing the cocoa which has a smaller image of her recursively. This effect is related to what is known as “mise en abyme” in the art world. This technique involves placing a copy of an image within itself that suggests infinity. A medieval example is the Stefaneschi Triptych in the Vatican. M.C. Escher also used this effect in his 1956 lithograph “Print Gallery.”

I have found this effect interesting in the past, it wasn’t until just recently that I learned that it had a name for the phenomenon. I remember in my early film days trying to take a picture using two opposing mirrors creating the infinity view with very little success. With today’s technology it has become easier to digitally enhance photos to create this effect. I only found one app that was fairly suited for this it’s called PhotoSpiralysis. It basically is a fractal generator for repetitive images. I did find the app a bit limiting for creative controls. I couldn’t always get it to do what I wanted. I did find a third party add on for photoshop but I’m still holding out on their expensive subscription plan. I would rather just buy the program and own it then pay 60 dollars a month for the rest of my life.

I had some fun making these. This is what I came up with.

I was having fun with the spiral effect. This clock worked well with the theme.

A picture of my niece from last summer. The frame of the mirror worked to create the spiral effect.

This framed artwork from the ceiling of McMenamins Edgefield also worked.

Looking into my lens of my old camera.

This video reminds me of time travel.

I started thinking of a bird in the sky spiraling. I came up with three similar concepts.

This gave me an M.C. Escher type of vibe.

This one was more of a fractal image.

Doing the infinite picture in a picture.

I wanted to include one of the infinite mirror pictures.

Not quite my best effort, but I wanted to include it. In the future I feel it would be better if the picture frame had the same color as the background I was shooting with. It would make it easier to blend them.

Taking A Holiday During The Holidays

Some of you who follow my blog may have realized it’s been a while since my last post. The weather became cooler, followed by the Holiday season. I haven’t been actively shooting between Thanksgiving and the New Year. I was instead researching what camera I wanted to upgrade to. I went with the Nikon Z 6 mirrorless. A great thing about the hobby of photography is that it satisfies my interest in technology and gadgets, as well as the creative side.

Today’s cameras are really mini computers… and can cost as much. I ended up choosing a mirrorless camera. Briefly… before I was using a DSLR (this style camera has a mirror in it that flips up to expose the sensor much like its predecessor would expose film). What you see in the view finder is a reflection of the mirror. You would then have to look at the screen on the back of the camera to see how your exposure turned out. A mirrorless camera in contrast has a video screen right in the viewfinder. The advantage of this is that you can adjust the picture right in the eyepiece. This allows you to know what the exposure will look like as you take it. This new camera is going to take me awhile to adjust and learn how to use. I’ve already started a bunch of tutorials. This will take up a lot of my free time that I would normally be out shooting photos but I think it will be well worth it in the end. I’ll post what I can when I’ve collected enough material.

I look forward to new challenges in the new year. Here are just a few things I was playing with over the holidays.

This tractor and barn were at a Christmas tree farm I was visiting. The sky was quite blah so I used an app to add clouds and enhance the photo. I used to think this was cheating, but I’ve come around to the idea that with today’s technology this is becoming the norm. I figure if it makes a better image I’ll just go with it.

I really liked this train bridge crossing the river. No “photoshop” here.

A nice natural pattern and texture.

Just messing around. I’ve always liked the infinity picture idea. When I was using one of my Bluetooth cameras and my iPad this showed up, so I took a screenshot.

I just really liked the colors in the aquarium.

I’ve tried the photo before with varied success. This is the best so far. I used a gizmo called Pivo. The associated app automatically stitches the photos together.

This video is also created with the Pivo device.

I found this really cool mirror in a shop.

I had fun really pushing the limits on the colors of this street art.

A Quick Trip to Los Angeles

A few weeks ago I heard a band from my youth Bauhaus was reuniting for a limited appearance reunion show. They only announced three shows all at the Palladium in Los Angeles. I mentioned this to my significant other and how it was too bad I would never get to see them as the concerts had sold out, and that LA is quite a trip from Eugene Oregon. A week later she asked me to find out if I could get a couple of days off work because she had the tickets to the show.

Our trip to Los Angeles was pretty short. We were really just there for two days. We did get quite a lot of tourists stuff done in that time though. I was able to get my camera out to snap some pictures while being tourist.

Our Airbnb had a view of the Scientology building, and the Capital Records tower. I found it interesting that the Scientology building was taller. I later found out the Capital Records tower was the first circular building constructed. It’s 13 stories was the maximum height for zoning when it was built in 1956. It was built to resemble a stack of records on a turntable with the spike on top representing the spindle. FYI the blinking light on top spells out Hollywood in Morse code.

First stop Trejos tacos. The actor Danny Trejo (you may know him better as Machete) opened a restaurant that was conveniently located near our home base. So good! He also has a doughnut shop if you have time to visit.

These paper animal head sculptures were cool.

We checked out the Hollywood district during the first day.

I liked this perspective street lights and all.

No visit to the Hollywood walk of fame is complete without visiting the Chinese Theatre. This is were all the handprints in cement are. We visited in the morning hence the shadow from the Masonic building across the street.

I really liked the reflection here. I think the tree and fence really add to the composition.

I liked this reflective image also.

When in Hollywood checking out the Hollywood sign is a must. I have always felt it needed to be a black and white picture.

Near the walk of fame is the Babylon Court. It is kind of a mall that is a replica inspired by the 1916 movie “Intolerance.” The original set was left standing near the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood for many years and is accredited as the first tourist attraction in Hollywood.

Cool building.

I thought this star was interesting because the band we were going to see has a song called Bela Lugosi is dead. As I was taking the photo a kid on a skateboard came by, I left the kids foot on the skateboard in it because I also thought that was fitting.

This museum of death was interesting, lots of serial killer memorabilia.

After leaving the museum I looked down to see this. I thought it was both clever and funny.

Had to take a picture of a Hollywood street sign.

The Hollywood Palladium was built in 1940 on the spot where the original Paramount lot was located.

A show I never thought I would see. This post punk band is often accredited with the origins of the goth rock movement. They were sort lived 1979-1983. They reunited in 2005, but quickly dissolved again. They haven’t played together for 13 years.

Frank Sinatra was the opening act at the Palladium, Halloween night 1940. Many other famous artists have played here over the years.

We were about 6 rows in. My partner had a hard time seeing through people as she is closer to the ground then myself. I had a good view, my legs were quite tired by the end of the show however.

David J on bass. I never got a good picture of Kevin Haskins on drums… I did get some video footage but I’m not going to share that here.

Peter Murphy did a great job considering he had a heart attack in August. I suspect the heart attack is what prompted this reunion…but who knows?

Daniel Ash being himself!

I liked this street art.

Shadows on the boardwalk.

We visited Venice beach and Santa Monica pier the next day. I didn’t take too many photos there. We just enjoyed the walk along the beach.

I thought the beach umbrellas looked good in black and white.

Cool architecture.

We went up to the Griffith Observatory for sunset.

I thought the moon next to the telescope was pretty cool. Too bad it’s hard to get a non blurry picture of the moon without a tripod and telescopic lens.

A picture of the telescope inside the building.

These statues were pretty cool. I had just watched a quirky movie called “Under the Silver Lake,” that features these statues… so that was fun. Some other famous movies have also used the observatory as a set… “Rebel Without a Cause,” “La La Land,” “The Terminator,” just to name a few.

The city view from the observatory, I really needed to have a tripod to get a good crisp picture in such low light, but I wanted to include the view anyway.

Again a tripod would have cleared up the blur and distortions.

This was my favorite of the group. As the sun was setting, the mirrored glass of a building reflected the distorted light onto the opposing building. I feel it gave it a surreal look.

Autumn colors

It sure feels like autumn out there. With the change of weather comes fall harvest and stunning colors. Like usual I’ve been busy, I felt like autumn was slipping by me so I grabbed my camera and got out there.

Fair warning there are about double the amount of pictures in this post…and they are mostly just of leaves. I didn’t really think I had anything to share but when I went through the pictures there was enough for two posts.

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” – Unknown

There are a lot of pictures of leaves in this post so…

Lots of stuff ripens in the fall.

I like the way the flowers wilted after the cold.

Leaf in a pine tree.

I liked this one.

Of course more leaves.

A spider.

Old rusty farm equipment.

Chestnuts from harvest time.

Cool corn.

Warty pumpkin.

Looks like fall.

Did I mention leaves.

Fall hiking path.

A suspended leaf.

So many leaves.

I found these reading glasses on a hiking trail so I put them in a tree at eye level in hopes someone will find them. I really hope no one is missing them.

Floating leaf.

Misty morning leaf.

I liked the blurred foreground and background.

Shadows of leaves.

A end of season flower pushing through the leaf.

Insect and berries.

Don’t forget fall brings mushrooms. I used my really tiny insta go camera to get this shot under the mushrooms. I probably will come up with more ideas to use it’s small size. Too bad the quality isn’t quite as great… but it’s still good. I like the way the mushroom stems lead into the tree.

Close up of leaf.

Fall mushrooms.

A composite picture using my Insta360 max one and the insta go. This gives me ideas for other potential pictures in the future.

This is my favorite. This is also a composite picture. I thought a forest setting was better then the house and fence in the original. The two images blended together nicely though.

I did warn you that there were a lot of leaf pictures… thanks for making it to the end!


I stepped out of my comfort zone this week. I signed up for a photo shoot called creepy dolls. Initially I thought I was just going to take pictures of old creepy figurines. As it got closer I realized I would be taking pictures of live models dressed in full makeup to look like creepy dolls. To heighten my anxiety I would be taking photographs next to professional photographers. I overcame the initial apprehension and made my way to the historic Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson house. (I did a blog on this place about a year ago if you are interested in the history of it). I made a few mistakes.

1. Not staying around longer. Initially there weren’t too many people there and I went around snapping photos. Soon there were a lot of people with their professional lighting gear taking charge and moving the models around. The flight response took over and I left… what I should have done is stayed longer and observed. Since I haven’t had experience taking photos of live subjects I could have learned a lot. You’d think 29 years as a server/bartender would be enough to ease the social anxiety. I think I just put on a persona when I go to work.

2. The second mistake was not getting the model or makeup artists information when I was taking the photos. In hindsight I saw all the models had tags on their wrists… I even took a picture of one. I’m pretty sure that information was on the back side. I will be using the hashtag #creepdolls2019 when posting this to social media and hopefully if any of the people involved want credit they will contact me and I can add that later.

In the limited time I was there I still got a lot of material to work with. Here’s what I came up with.

This is the Shelton-McMurphy-Johnson house. The headless mannequin actually was greeting me right inside the door but I thought it was fun to put it here.

This steampunk model was the first I photographed.

A close up.

Black and white.

I added a zoom blur to this doll.

I couldn’t decide if I liked this version better or the next one.

I added an out of focus blur for this one.

A spot light.

I wanted to show what a great job the models did at posing as dolls… they were great.

They really put some work into the positions a doll thrown around the room would be sitting.

The puppet and the puppeteer. I thought an old time filter worked for this.

A great pose as a Japanese doll.

I thought this kaleidoscope worked well.

Chipping paint filter.

There were other creepy dolls sitting around as well. I just colorized the eyes to make it more disturbing.

I tried many things to add into the empty space of this broken doll face. I ended up with a baby face from another creepy doll in the house.

An old time filter worked well for this puppet and puppeteer.

I liked the way the model mimicked a real dolls feet. I thought black and white worked well here.

Here’s one of those tags I think I was supposed to get the model and makeup artists information from.

I combined two photos and blended them together for this ghostly picture.

I used a red negative filter for this.

There was a replica of the house upstairs in the attic. I used this dollhouse for the next set of pictures.

Broken mirror filter to make it look creepy.

I cut and pasted the models into the dollhouse rooms. I really like this one.

I put the live doll near the porcelain one.

This turned pretty well.

I like the way she poses.

This was a fun one. I really wanted to do something with the mirror but it was getting to small… maybe I’ll revisit this another time.

I included these last two pictures just because I liked them.

I will endeavor to stay longer and try to be more involved with the models and photographers if I go to another of these photo shoots!

Composite Photography

A composite picture is made of multiple pictures brought together to create a final image. Many times composite pictures will be surreal with two or more pictures in juxtaposition. In today’s modern digital photography, it has become easier and more common place to find this style of photo. Masters of the dark room like Jerry Uelsmann pioneered and inspired this style of photographic artwork.

I’ve generally tried to use just my own stuff in my photos. In order to get an image I want I’ve started to come to the conclusion that there is a reason a lot of these apps have stock footage for your use. I’ll try to identify parts that aren’t my original photos and images.

I didn’t shoot much new stuff this week, but did spend a lot of time manipulating my photos.

At the end is a video I made for work. Hit play and have the volume on.

If you checked out my last post I had this same tree trunk and mentioned I wanted to do something like this. I was having a hard time with my own photos but found one that worked in the stock photos of an app I was using.

I found this tree stump with a gnarl that looked like an eye in it. I decided to blend my nieces eye together and came up with this.

I thought adding a spider and flipping the eye made this picture creepy. Happy Halloween!

This is a picture of train tracks I took a while back. The fish and water in the sky were elements I took from an app. I’ve been trying to do water as the sky for quite some time. But since I don’t have underwater photography equipment I haven’t been able to. The stock images made it possible.

Using a kaleidoscope filter I came up with this. I just thought it was fun.

I was messing with a tiny planet app at the entrance to my work… possible work in progress. Keep tuned in.

The church was mine… but again I added a water sky, and the moon from an app.

I used the kaleidoscopic filter here as well. I really liked the way it turned out.

This one is all me, and my favorite of the group. I took the fish picture at the Oregon aquarium, and the door from an old dilapidated house. When I mashed them together I found I could make it look like two of the fish were coming out. My main thought when I started this was, “what wouldn’t you expect when opening a door.” Don’t forget to check out the video below.