These Mind-Bending Black-and-White Images by Photographer Dan Root Are Created Entirely By Hand

Embarcadero High Rise I; ©Dan Root

Dan Root is a buddy of mine who is always doing something interesting photographically. His most recent project is a mind-bending series of black-and-white photos called Quadratis.

For his Quadratis images, Root exposes one square negative in four orientations on a single sheet of traditional photo paper to create something that looks like a combination of an M.C. Escher print and a monochrome version of the patterns in a kaleidoscope. They’re really quite cool and, they’re done completely by hand, i.e. no Photoshop!

“I've spent the past year searching out subject matter in the urban and natural environment that would lend itself well to this optical, art effect,” Root says. “I force the perspective through the viewfinder and visualize the final result while composing the photograph, and then I print the image full-frame with minimal cropping.”

Altamont Pass Road II; ©Dan Root

Root has a selection of the Quadratis series on display now until October 27th at the RayKo Photo Center, a gallery in San Francisco, CA. You can see a few of the shots in this story but you should go see the images in person at RayKo to get the full effect. (Root is one of the gallery’s photographers and his work is available there year-round.)

Grunge Alley; ©Dan Root

Black-and-white film printing in the darkroom has been Root’s passion since he was a teenager. He says the technical process appeals to him, especially the attention to detail required to make a great image compared to the digital world, where everything is instantaneous and, often, mediocre.

Treasure Island; ©Dan Root

Of Quadratis, Root notes: “Photographing this way has been an interesting exercise for me, especially with the precise darkroom work required to make the four exposures match. What I find most satisfying is seeing the final image for the first time as it rises from the white paper in the developer tray. The result is always different than what I anticipated.”

More info at Root’s website.