Mandalas from a Crystal Bowl

Wandering the crowded aisles of Berkeley’s Urban Ore—a somewhat dodgy cross between an upscale junkyard and a down-at-the-heels flea market with an added smidgen of green ideology—with my camera and Otus, I came across a beautiful cut crystal bowl in a locked cabinet. It was love at first sight. Finding the person with the key to unlock the cabinet and negotiating the price took a bit of time, but soon enough Otus and I were making our way home to photograph our new treasure.

Crystal Mandala 1 © Harold Davis

Crystal Mandala 1 © Harold Davis

I photographed my crystal bowl straight down using a light box and a bracketed high-key sequence of exposures. This is the technique I developed to capture flowers for transparency (actually, for translucency), and as I note in my presentation on the subject the technique produces interesting results with many subjects in addition to flowers. In this case, the high key HDR approach emphasized the contrast between the edge lines of the bowl and the negative spaces created by the transparent glass.

Crystal Mandala 2 © Harold Davis

Crystal Mandala 2 © Harold Davis

My next step playing in Photoshop was to invert the essentially monochromatic image, transforming black lines on a white background to black lines on a white background. It’s hard to get me going on this kind of thing without wanting to play in Photoshop, so I started using LAB adjustmentsHow do you make a mandala from a crystal bowl?

Red Crystal Mandala © Harold Davis

Red Crystal Mandala © Harold Davis

In this case, in addition to LAB inversions and equalizations, I used Nik Color Efex filters, direct painting on layers, layers, layer masks, and repeated application of some of the oddball blending modes such as Difference. Play around long enough in Photoshop and you never know what you will find!

Holographic Mandala © Harold Davis

Holographic Mandala © Harold Davis

With this imagery it was visually important to me to “square the circle” with a square crop. With some of the Crystal Mandalas, like the Holographic Mandala, there is almost a three dimensional look—part of the image jumps off the plane. In contrast, with Mandala Inside, the effects create an outer translucent shell or layer, with an inner core that is much bolder and more defined.

Mandala Inside © Harold Davis

Mandala Inside © Harold Davis

These could be small virtual worlds, and have become something completely unrelated to the original sequence of photos. When I first looked in my crystal bowl, I did not know where it would take me!

Green Lantern Mandala © Harold Davis

Green Lantern Mandala © Harold Davis

 

Lantern Mandala © Harold Davis

Lantern Mandala © Harold Davis

This entry was posted in Abstractions, Photoshop Techniques.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Metamorphosis on March 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    […] I think of as a landscape with a highway and a canal, shot using my iPhone facing a bathtub at Urban Ore, and processed on the spot on the iPhone using the Plastic Bullet […]

  2. By Rose after Delauney and O’Keeffe on March 24, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    […] a couple of other examples of this kind of thing, check out Mandalas from a Glass Bowl, Broken Arrow and Creating LAB Patterns, and also see my article on Photo.net, Using LAB Color […]

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