Usually I do not write about things I read in others writing I receive in RSS feeds. But a blooming new creativity interest using flatbed scanners is something I could not resist. It is called scanography, using a flatbed scanner as if it were a digital camera to take digital pictures of 3D objects. So considering a lot of photographers have flatbed scanners these days, how about getting more use out of it to create photographs when it is too cold and nasty to go and shoot your camera outdoors? You can easily take a look at what others are doing with their scanners by visiting a web site all about it at: In this new web site you will find there is a .PDF file you can download that provides a detailed look at the work of many people using scanners as cameras with lots of fascinating examples of their images.

Besides being an attractive use of a flatbed scanner to get more out of the hardware than the usual, of course I had to try scanography myself. I searched around my place for likely stuff to scan with my Epson Perfection V500, and then sat down with the scanner and began to make some scans of 3D objects. Previewing and then adjusting the scan was about the same as it would be for flat prints, so I made some scans. Technically they were OK, but creatively just scanning objects doesn’t produce an interesting picture. Later that day while out shopping I noticed the store was already selling Christmas decorations and lighting, so I bought a set of multi-colored LED lights. Back in my lab with the scanner I bunched the LED lights up in a tight package and then moved them back and forth from one side of the scan platen to the other as the scanner progressed to make a scan. The result was encouraging, and after a little Photoshopping it was an abstract worth pursuing if I had the time to experiment more.

Of course scanners make exposures differently than the single shots of a digital camera, so with this in mind what you can do knowing a moving subject will distort as its being scanned is just one of the options you can employ to obtain differing image affects. In a way I wish I had the leisure to play with scanography more to see what else I could come up with creatively. But all I can do is suggest it has great potential and the many images on the web site should be encouraging. I would have liked to try the scanner’s transparent mode, but there is an interlock that prevents the scanner running without the lid in place, so that possibility was not investigated. Maybe other model flatbeds with film scanning options may be more flexible. It would be interesting what could be done with small LED lights with some objects scanned using the transparent scan mode.

If looking at the scannography web site, as well as reading their PDF document, is as fascinating as I found it, and you try this and get some results, let me know. This could become another interesting facet of digital photography.