After finding an old, 1970s, mineralogy book, I have been thinking a lot about the best way to construct my kusudama images. I have three main options:
- Colour object on solid black background
- Black and white object on solid black background
- Colour object on coloured background
Option number one was where I started. I choose the solid black background because it is quite typical of plates in academic publications (both for books and peer-reviewed articles). Also, I like seeing the colourful kusudama on the solid black background because it really makes it ‘pop’.
The second option, black and white, was suggested by my tutor. He thought that it might make the objects look more “edgy” and that it might be more in-keeping with classical palaeontology. Historically palaeontologists have used monochrome to present pictures of fossils. This is because colour is typically not important to identification/classification and colour can obscure morphological features. In the past, I have even photographed certain fossils for publication that required coating with a fine mist of ammonium chloride. The ammonium chloride is white/grey and hides the effects of preservational features so that the more important, morphological features will stand out. Obviously the final images were then presented as black and white. To test my tutor’s idea, I converted my first kusudama image to black and white using Photoshop and I do really like the resulting picture.
The third possibility, is to present a colourful object on a colourful background as per the mineralogy book that I discovered. This is perhaps slightly more of a “popular science” approach than a traditional academic one, but given the abstract nature of my subject matter, this is not necessarily a problem. To test this approach, I added a new layer in Photoshop with a colourful gradient. I selected the background colour with the aid of an artist’s colour wheel and then altered the gradient until a had a direction and intensity that I was happy with. The advantage of this form of presentation, is that the colourful gradient in the background seems to create an almost 3D effect on the kusudama, which you don’t get with the solid black background. Whether or not this approach would work on all of the objects however remains to be seen.
In conclusion, it seems likely that all three of these options could work well for my kusudama project. The problem will be in selecting which one option would be the best/most appropriate. I will print some images out and hang the different versions around my office while I think about it. I also intend to take some prints to the OCA South West group meeting in June to see what my peers think.