Scanner Art

On the way to lunch today, I noticed that the trees in the parking lot are starting to change color. The leaves on the ground had these incredible patterns, a thick band of red around the edges with cells of green and brown in the center, separated by thin veins of yellow. Each leaf was like a little work of art.

I thought back to a classmate who used to do fine art photography with a scanner. There’ve also been some posts on boingboing on the technique. On the way back from lunch I put a few leaves in my car to scan when I got home. Imagine my disappointment when I returned to a pile of brown, brittle leaves after a few hours in a warm car.

So there I was out in the parking lot picking leaves off the ground as people were heading to their cars. But I found some really nice ones—luckily they don’t seem to be in short supply.

As I recall, this classmate mentioned using a black, lightproof hood over her scanner to make the images, with flowers and other objects arranged on the scanner bed. I’ve got a tiny 4×6″ photo scanner, so I set a leaf down on the surface and held a black towel over the top while it scanned. And all I got was muddled grayness. Clearly this hobby is going to require some fancier equipment. Anyway, I pressed the top of the scanner down on the leaves and got much better images. Granted they have no depth of field, but given that I was scanning leaves, this wasn’t too much of a problem.

With only a little bit of editing, mostly to make the background uniformly black, I got what I think are two really interesting scans. Here’s my favorite, because of the dark brown cells inside the green.

sebastopol leaf

And this one I liked because of the long stem and the almost symmetrical green cells.

sebastopol leaf


You are an interesting person

Those are lovely!

Matera the Mad

Nice leaves. I was scanning wild grape and ferns this morning :D

Take a plain leaf, convert to grayscale, do edge detection and then fool around with gamma and contrast and invert etc. – line art, metallic effects… I use IrfanView and GIMP

Matera, if you have any examples online, definitely include a link.


i love this pic


What kind of tree did this come off of????

I believe it was a type of “pear” tree, but I’m not 100% certain, see also: Autumn leaf on a city sidewalk.

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