Category Archives: film

Honesty

Photography has always been a very deceiving art: Choosing frame and composing the component parts of an image can put quite some spin on the documented reality. And it doesn’t stop there – there are all the tricks of the trade from clothes made to fit on a skinny model by stapling the garments into a big bunch behind her back; blazing fires in grand old fireplaces for interior photography – which in fact are just a ball of scrunched-up newspaper that lights up in the 10 seconds it takes to make the picture…

What we see in an image nowadays is less real than ever. And I really don’t mean that in terms of photoshopping ugly duckings into beautiful swans. Just a simple crop will do the trick – leaving out bits that are undesirable. Or enhancing colour and tone just with a simple click if we are lazy. 

I really do wonder whether it is honest to shoot digital. Isn’t film a much truer medium? What you catch on the negative is there. Bang. I am probably deluding myself, though, because in the age of scanners, negatives are probably not even used for enlarging anymore. They are just thrown on the scanner, scanned and then get the same lying photoshop treatment that all digital stuff gets, too.

Oh dear oh dear. Must be in a black mood tonight. 


Photogram

On my way down memory lane I have decided to schedule a few posts more on analog photography. But let’s start at the beginning, with the first ever image I developed photographically:


Making photograms is a great way of understanding how photography works. Essentially you take a piece of light-sensitive paper, arrange a few things on it, expose the paper to light and then develop it. (Possibly be a little bit more careful than me and make sure NOT to get stray hairs exposed onto the paper, either…)

The development process is rather straightforward for photograms, too. The exposed paper is first placed in a bath of chemicals for 90 seconds which will develop the image. Next it goes into another solution for 30 seconds to stop the development process. Then it has to go into a third set of chemicals for 10 minutes to fix the photogram. After that it has to be washed for about 30 minutes in water to clean off the chemicals. And presto – there is the developed photogram. Well, not a Man Ray, but a Part-Time Punk!

Vanity Humility Project

I’m so vain, you probably think this blog is about me, I’m so vahahahain… Actually I am not. If I were I wouldn’t post unflattering images of myself on the interweb. But well, you are forgiven to think otherwise, after all I have shown myself here a few times recently. No, I won’t present you handy links to all the relevant posts – and feed your suspicions of my overestimated self-importance. The point of it really is: If you are a budding photographer, you need to practice. And when you have no willing victim, never forget that you can always play practice with yourself.

The reason I am coming up with this [irony mode] gem of advice [/irony mode] is that I just found something in the deepest depth of my long buried visual diaries from 2009. It kind of pays to write those things. You wouldn’t belief how much fun I have had, reading through my bungled, f*cked up 15-year-old thoughts. And even a look back just three years into the past can provide much entertainment.

I really wish I was better at bullsh*tting. Maybe then I wouldn’t just see the hilarity in these images, but would find the eloquence and far-fetched theoretical superstructure for an artistic interpretation of what really comes down to photographic failures.


In fairness – particularly picture 2 is not bad considering that these were all taken by pinhole camera! They were all taken in the bright sunshine and I exposed pic 2 for 30 secs. No wonder I am all fuzzy. (Mind you – not that fuzzy – I am almost impressed by myself… Have you ever tried to hold still for 30 seconds? Impossible if you are not lying down or not tied to something.)

Picture 3 is all nicely artistic. I wish I had intentionally just exposed my shoulder and done away with my head (much as in real life, so to speak). It could be such a wonderful comment on the hardness of life, resting on my shoulders while my head is in the clouds – or some such nonsense. Exposure time here was 15 secs on account of the bright sunshine and a background which I calculated to be lighter. I also shook the camera a tiny bit which probably also accounts for the blurriness of the image.



As for picture 1: Again I have managed to do away with my head. (There seems to be some kind of pattern in this…)  I left the shutter open for 30 secs. Again, I did get a result, but the long shutter speed means that I appear rather fuzzy in it – well, impossible not to move.

So, there. Abusing myself. At least I know how to do that properly.

Film Love

I think I will go back to some film photography. Somehow the thought of getting my hands into chemicals again, appeals to me. I was experimenting with it, recently, and essentially I had to re-teach myself a lot of stuff that I learnt three years ago. Wow – is it really that long since we spent all our Saturdays in the college darkroom, developing our negs and wrecking our brains about the perfect prints? Oh my – the amount of worry that split grading used to cause me…

It is actually amazing, what a difference the split grading made! I decided to do a split grade on an image and take no short cuts, just to show myself how it works again. My photo of a leaf on wet grass was a good example as there are a lot of different greys in the image. But the details of the leaf and the water droplets also need a lot of contrast.

So, in order to compare, I developed one version of the print to get the greys all balanced; and another one to get the details all right. In the two smaller images in the top row you can see the results: filter 5 at 16 seconds (left) and filter 1 at 16 seconds (right) .



Note how the image on the left is all very detailed and the highlights and lowlights are clearly defined. The grass and the leaf itself look rather washed out, though, and the water droplets are hardly visible. In contrast, the image on the right has lovely grayscale tones and gives more definition to the individual grass blades. The leaf looks textured and you can see the droplets.

Logical conclusion: Use both filters and split grade, yoohay! Which is what I did for the main image in my little collage here. I like it and I think it is just about right. But whoa – it is time consuming. Maybe Photoshop is not so bad after all???

The "Friends of Analogue Photography", Strike One

There is only one shutter release button, one viewfinder on a camera. And there is only one point of view for each individual photographer. For the “social animals” among us, photography can be such a lonely business! Here we are, “hiding” behind our hardware, interpreting the world around us through our lens, and most often than not, noone else sees what we produce. (Unless you keep an exhibitionist platform… eh… blog, yourself :-))

Now, I have always been a strongly social person. I thrive on the exchange of ideas with other people, the challenge of matching up to other’s expectations and standards, and I love the sharing of knowledge and ideas. I am very lucky that I have met a lot of people in college over the last year and a half who seem to be similar in that respect. We gelled as a group and continue to communicate about photography outside of college. (You know who you are, guys and girls – a big, sentimental hug to all of you!) Today I want to show off what we produced in a little project that I instigated recently.

The Project:
The objective of the project was to shoot one 24 exposure colour film. Each participant had to supply two topics/themes to the group. A final list of 24 topics was given to each participant. Therefore each participant had exactly one shot to interpret each of the 24 themes on his/her roll of film. The picture format was to be landscape.

The Background:
“The Friends of Analogue Photography” got together because we had all studied for a Diploma in Photography last year, and we all agreed that we loved our first semester when we had to shoot only with film. All of us shoot digitally on a regular basis. And almost exclusively – for all the obvious advantages of digital photography. But film has its advantages, too. The fact that you need to think and prepare and plan your individual shots so much more in order to avoid film wastage, usually produces much better results in film photography. So we came up with a project that would force us to practice our film-abilities – in a fun way.

The Presentation:
After three weeks of shooting the 24 themes, the group got back together with their prints. In order to achieve a uniform look, all images had been printed in 6×4 format. The images were then hung on the wall, creating a grid with every theme resulting in one column, while each line would show the images of one photographer. That way we were able to compare the different interpretations of each theme in the corresponding column, while placing each photographer’s complete project in a line enabled us to spot the different “styles” of photography.

So without any further ado, here is our final “wall”:

And I will disregard the programme and title of this blog this week and actually display more than just one image in this post in order to give a bit more insight into this project:
A closer look at some of the results:
And finally the participants via a self-portrait:
Apart from the social aspect, the project has been inspiring and creative. All participants put a lot of care into their submissions. And we all agreed that the analogue project eventually took precedence over college or work obligations.  
I sincerely hope that this was not the last time we have worked together. 
What do you think?