2010-2011 Flatcam Garden

In January, 2010, I made a digital 8×10-inch view camera out of USPS Priority Mail boxes, a lens, an 8×10-inch sheet of ground glass and a portable flatbed scanner connected by cable to a laptop.  I began making photographs in my wife Robyn’s garden, and discovered that the flatcam recorded the movement of windblown plants in an interesting way that I had never seen before.  

Each scan of the image on the 8×10-inch ground glass requires approximately 10 minutes to complete. During that time, the lens shutter remains open while the plants move in the wind, and the moving image on the ground glass is captured in stepped intervals by the start-and-stop movement of the scanner head.  

When the winds are calm, the images of the plants appear undisturbed.  When the winds are moderate-to-heavy, the natural curves of the plants are depicted as seismic lines.  During the time required to scan each entire image, the wind speed may vary, producing a single image which might contain seismic lines at some points in time, and natural lines at other times.

Like many people, I have wished that I could see the wind.  My flatcam has not allowed me to see the wind, but it has given me a new way of seeing movement caused by wind over a period of time.