Manipulation may be older than you think.
What a bizarre effect. Two images superimposed onto each other. And the tones- that is a strange-looking black and white image. There are two things that are going on here that are more than meets the eye:
1. Double exposure. The roommate and the glass look like two different pictures. In fact, they are. Two exposures are made on the same negative (with some careful exposure adjustements, since the sum of the light from each expoaure must fall within the desired range), and there it is. In some cases, one doesn’t fully understand the workings of one’s brand-new twenty-eight year old camera, and the exposures only half overlap. The result? This image. No Photoshop trickery, just old-fashioned analog mind games (and user error. Come on, the camera’s older than I am).
2. Cross process. This image (this one too) were fake cross processes, designed to digitally replicate processing slide film in color negative chemicals or vice-versa. While this is the most common cross process, developing color film in black and white chemistry counts too. The results are generally unique (to say the least).
There you haeve it. All sorts of tricks played with film chemistry that have been available for much longer than I’ve been living. Some people have a visceral reaction to “Photoshopping” of digital images, but fail to realize that many of the techniques reflect the sort of manipulations that photographers have been up to since, well, a long time ago.
This is a long one, so bear with me: Pentax K1000 body on its maiden roll (in my hands, at least), Fuji Superia X-tra 400 (color negative film), Clayton F76+ black and white developer. Alright, so not as long as I thought.
Pentax digital setup.
Looks can be deceiving.
The next Dinosaur in my series, actually photographed minutes after the first. I didn’t really have anything interesting to do with this one, however, until I created my cross process simulation, as seen on the redux of Reading. This is tricky though- Reading II, with its smooth, muted colors, was shot on expired film. This image, which, in addition to color shifts has extreme grain and appears to have aged badly, is digital. Part of this is necessity- it was dark, and my digital performs poorly at high sensitivities. The rest, of course, is taking this flaw and running with it: An image this noisy will never work as a high-fidelity piece of digital art. What will it work as? Perhaps a digital replication of/homage to the low-fidelity world of the cross processed negative. Is it cross processed? No. Does it look like a cross process? Not really. Does it work? You tell me.
Pentax digital SLR operating at an unfathomably high sensitivity to price ratio. Image quality follows accordingly.
Photography is often false.
Look familiar? It might. I’ve been dreaming of a Holga lately, so I decided to go for the effect. I do like this presentation quite a bit better than the first go with this one- the crop minimizes the barrel distortion from the horrible lens on the Nikon I had borrowed at the time. On the other hand, I did have to give up the sky to do so, which I rather liked. Actually, on second thought, the original is fairly toy camera-like in itself. I guess that’s a pretty horrendous lens, because the Nikon N75 is no Diana (although not an especially high-end SLR body from its time, and certainly far from my favorite).
Plug related to this post: For those of you in the area, the Met has an excellent special exhibition going called “Reality Check: Truth and Illusion in Modern Photography.” I had the opportunity to see it the day before Thanksgiving, and despite my fever-induced deliriousness (102 is quite a fever for someone who normally runs 96s), I was very impressed. Great museum and a great exhibition.
I guess the results here are the combination of a few factors: Expired film, horrendous optical quality (cheap glass wide open at wide end), a low-quality scan, and the processing liberties taken by yours truly. I like it, and I think it captures the feel of the place quite a bit better. The rest of you can judge for yourselves.
Expired Fuji NPS 160, C-41 processing, world’s worst zoom lens (some sort of Quantaray abomination), liberal embellishing.
Photography is disassembly.
One of my favorite things about the infamous shower scene in Psycho is the way that Hitchcocks’ careful camera work literally cuts Janet Leigh (as Marion Crane) into pieces. The audience goes from visuals of the rising and falling knife to individual pieces of Leigh’s body. At least in an impressionistic sense, she is being vut into pieces.
Photography can work much the same way. The camera can take a larger phenomenon (in this case, a farmers’ market) and cut it into the little pieces that hold it together. This particular slice is a box of extra bears full of honey that a vendor had stashed in the back of his Jeep.
Photography is about the gaze.
The great thing about photography is that it allows one to enter another’s perspective. You or anyone else may have seen this completely differently. If I went back tomorrow, I probably would as well. That’s the fun part- a slice of my gaze preserved and stretched over an infinite length of time.
Photography is a learning experience.
Can you tell what’s wrong with this image? Does the nose look a little funny? Sometimes it seems like the better you get one thing, the more likely you are to completely miss another. In this case, I nailed the focus. For traditional shots of people or pets (or really anything with eyes), the rule of thumb is to make sure the focus is sharp on the eyes (or on the nearer eye). I nailed the focus. Unfortunately, I forgot to consider depth of field: Since I was only a matter of inches away from this face (probably something I should think about when it belongs to a strange dog) and shooting at a relatively open aperture (most likely f/4), my depth of field was quite thin. How thin? Follow the contours of the head forward or back from the eyes and see how quickly they go out of focus.
Oh well. I think this will still make a nice 8×10. I ordered my first professional lab prints earlier today, and I am curious to see how they turn out. The best part is, the price is comparable to Ritz or CVS, or maybe even less (I paid $2 for 8x10s and $3 for 8x12s). It’s even more convenient. Unless you’re one of “those people” who hoard images on their SD cards and go to the grocery store to make prints before deleting images when it gets full, it’s much more convenient to export them from your photo management software, upload them, and place your order. I am curious to see the results.
Agfa APX400, Ricoh KR-5 Super II, normal developent in F76+ and the great tonality I have gound with this combo, even when scanned. Sure beats the FP4+ I tried during this project, which was both expensive and disappointing.