Thursday, October 6, 2022
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The Souls of Burning Objects – by Sonny Rosenberg

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I have to admit that as I begin writing this article I’m experiencing more than a little bit of trepidation, not because I have a fear of writing, but because I’m concerned that you will think me completely crazy after reading this article. I wish I could assure you that you would be wrong in that assumption, but I’m just not sure that I can, so let me just dig in to the crazy part.

In my imagination objects have souls and these souls of objects have a somewhat ghostly appearance that differs substantially from the objects they belong to  (note: for this discussion, I’m considering plants to be objects). I’ve dreamt of these souls of objects numerous times. They glow and pulse softly and are like nothing I’ve ever seen in waking life until I stumbled upon the Lumenbox.

lumenbox 1

My Lumenbox with custom shutter open.

The Lumenbox is the wonderful creation of Jorge Otero, it’s a small, just over 6x6cm, beautifully crafted cardboard box  that houses a simple plastic meniscus lens. The box comes apart in two halves. To use the Lumenbox, you insert a 6×6 piece of dampened photo paper and slide the box back together. The half of the box holding the lens acts a film holder. The shutter is a sliding piece of cardboard, although I’ve modified my Lumenbox with a little piece of brass.

lumenbox 2

Lumenbox Open, what’s missing from this photo is the little plastic insert that goes in the back half of the camera and protects the cardboard from the dampened  photo paper.

A normal exposure with the Lumenbox is 5 five minutes outdoors in bright sunlight and up to an hour indoors. No development is needed, the actions of the photons upon the dampened paper creates a negative image that then needs to be scanned or photographed as it’s transient and fades over time.

I was immediately entranced by the photos that the Lumenbox produced, what I didn’t realize when I ordered it, was that the images created on the black and white photographic paper are in color!

Over time, I began experimenting with longer and longer exposures to enhance the range of colors I was getting. These initial experiments took place indoors (depending on interest, I may write an article featuring those indoor exposures), and as I began to get better and better results with my increasingly extended exposures, something began to dawn on me. These new photographs were strangely familiar and evoked a sense of deja-vu in me. Then it dawned on me, these looked like the souls of objects that I hadn’t dreamt about in several years!

One thing led to another and in the spirit of experimentation I began to take very long exposures outside. I have to say, I was stunned by these images. They were like the souls of objects, but on fire! It’s not an exaggeration to say that I was dumbfounded by the colors in these long outdoor exposures. I don’t by any stretch of the imagination expect these to be everyone’s cup of tea, but here they are in all their strangeness, The Souls of Burning Objects.

Except for the last image, which was a 5 hour exposure (it began to rain), these are all 12 hour exposures on Arista Edu Ultra grade 3 photo paper and  scanned with my Canon TS8220. Negatives were inverted in Lightroom and the color curves were tweaked to reveal colors obscured by other colors.

bike pump

Bike pump on the back porch.

tru temper

Tru Temper, this one is a multiple exposure in that I moved the camera three times.

hose 2a

Back garden hose.


My neighbor Shaun’s basement vent.

orange bags1

Orange Bags

big black b b q

Covered Barbecue

sunflower 2


small bench

Small bench in Shaun’s front yard.

Thanks for reading this far! For more strange stuff visit my little blog The Daily Lumenbox.

Sonny Rosenberg is a semi-retired ceramics teacher and bicyclist who lives in Reno Nevada with his wife and three cats.

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