FLOWERS & COLORS

The Making-of

by Wenting Zhu

It was in those constant considerable amount of experiments, observations and records that I gradually found the gorgeous scenery hidden in a simple truth.

 

FLOWERS & COLORS began in late September 2017 and lasted for about 5 months. I took more than 140000 images of time-lapse photography for this project, and the total recording time of all images and video clips is more than 100 hours, the slowest experiment among all these video clips took more than 4.5 hours. Although most of them were not used in the final video, it was well worth the effort. 

I used macro photography and photomicrography to reveal the color-changing process of flower pedals in great details, just as other chemical reactions I have shot before.

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 This process took more than 4.5 hours.

This process took more than 4.5 hours.

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The first experiment I shot was the color-changing process of Wishbone Flowers in sodium hydroxide solution and in dilute hydrochloric acid. Pink or purple petals of Wishbone Flower turned red in hydrochloric acid while turned yellow in sodium hydroxide solution. Because the variations of forms and colors in acid condition were not as clear as in basic condition, I finally made a decision to shoot all the color-changing processes in sodium hydroxide solution after testing for many times.

The hydrophobic properties of petals made them difficult to wet, so I had to find a way to immerse them in sodium hydroxide solution, which was a key step. In addition, because flowers eventually turned yellow in sodium hydroxide solution, I picked purple, pink, red and blue flowers which were different from yellow.

 
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What the macro lens recorded was the color-changing process of a whole flower in sodium hydroxide solution. As I said above, flowers could not be fully immersed in solution, which brought great difficulties during shooting. I tried to use flowers which were almost as large as a container so that they could be stuck in container. But since different flowers are of different sizes, this method was not suitable for all. This problem bothered me a lot early on, but things became much smoother after I came up with an idea to fix the flower with an iron wire.

A few hours later, flowers eventually turn yellow or even nearly transparent, so the light from background was very important, which made the flowers look more transparent.

 Fixing the flower with an iron wire.

Fixing the flower with an iron wire.

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 covered a small part of the petal with a piece of glass

During the recording with a microscope, I covered a small part of the petal with a piece of glass, so that it could prevent it from floating back and forth on the surface of sodium hydroxide solution. 

I also tried to cover the whole petal with a piece of glass, but a lot of bubbles appeared between the glass and the petals, which led to unpleasant visual results. 

Focusing was another key point. 

In general, it is very difficult to use a microscope to shoot objects that are not flat. Because of the shrinking and deforming of petals, it was very difficult to get them focused. Most of the time, only a small portion of the footage was useful, and I had to focus constantly to get clear pictures.

 Bubbles appeared when covering the whole petal with a piece of glass.

Bubbles appeared when covering the whole petal with a piece of glass.