Spooky Snapshot

Was there life before Instagram? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

A century ago, Instagram filters didn’t exist. But artists created beautiful, black and white photographic images with an other-worldly effect. This mysterious technique, known as mordançage, makes the black parts of the picture billow out, like fluttering curtains! 

Until now, not much was known about how this effect was achieved. Now Rebecca Jones and Caroline Fudala of George Mason University have UN-veiled the chemistry behind mordançage.

The two replicated the unusual process in the darkroom. By experimenting with different papers, chemicals, and timing, they could maximize the lift-off effect. The key was softening the paper. This allowed it to absorb special chemicals, like copper chloride, which react with the dark parts of the photo. Boom, lush ripples of darkness! 

The more absorbent the paper, the more dramatic the effect. 

Digital photography can only do so much — this is old-school!

Perfect for my Facebook profile! Not that I’m not “ageless”!