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Color Bang: Abstract Imagery Using Fireworks and Photo Paper

When you think of the different ways you can use photo paper, I don’t think a lot of people would automatically think “fireworks!” Photographic artist Ross Sonnenberg has been experimenting with this technique for a few years now, and it has produced some out-of-this world images.

I create one-of-a-kind camera less images that look like they could come from our Galaxy, but come straight from my imagination.

To make these photographs, he laid out some photo paper in his darkroom. To create different patterns and textures, he made use of gels, sand and tin foil. Of course for a project like this that involves photo paper, he needed light and his light source of choice was fireworks.

photo paper exposed to fireworks

After lighting the fireworks over the sheets of photo paper, he just let the magic happen. What’s great about using fireworks is that you will never get the exact same result twice; so many combinations, effects and colors are made possible just by lighting some poppers.

I have always been fascinated by the planets and stars, looking through telescopes and wondering what these far off places might look like. With this series I have tried to create imaginary solar systems and super novas using different materials, and fireworks for my light source to make one-of-a-kind camera less images directly onto color and black and white photographic paper. Like the darkness in outer space, I work in the dark to create images that mimic the interstellar places that I always dreamed about going to as a kid.

The Color Bang series involves exploding these firecrackers over smaller sheets of photo paper.

exploding fireworks over photo paper

photo of fireworks

fireworks exploding above photo paper

fireworks bursting over photo paper

If you’re interested in seeing this technique on a much grander scale, you can check out the Long Bang series also by Sonnenberg.

large scale fireworks on photo paper

photo paper exposed to light

explosion of firecrackers over photos

His other work also has some great textures. I quite like the vibrant colors and the contrast in this set of photos.

All images are layered tranpancies that create double exposures. The end result are images that hover between concrete and abstraction.

composite of textures

double exposure

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a photo project that involves exposing photo paper to the fireworks, so it’s definitely unique to me. Have you seen anything similar somewhere? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.

Patricia Ramos the author

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.

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