When I started out shooting snapshots, I always thought was “writing” in color. Learning about the camera obscura, I learned that it was more about capturing light than actually writing. Later on I even learned that light can be used to sculpt.

Now why should I start about my early misconception? I recently encountered a natural phenomenon I hadn’t paid attention to in a long while. It’s called chromatography, which literally means “color writing”. It’s an analysis technique primarily used for the separation of plant pigments such as chlorophyll. It is the collective term for a set of laboratory techniques for the separation of mixtures.

The example I saw in the wild was made with a freshly used (and wet) coffee pad. It was accidentally placed on an home-printed invitation. The result you can see above.

And if you want to try something like this yourself, please do not use the same materials. Take a felt marker and put a dot on the middle of a strip of paper. Put the piece of paper in a liquid, like water, leaving the dot above the liquid. Putting the dot in the liquid just dissolves it. Now wait and see how the different colors get separated…

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