projects

12 Months, 12 Projects – September Lightpainting

Withouth much enthusiasm, I decided to do some lightpainting. Project lightpainting had actually been on the program some months ago, but when I thought up my projects, I hadn’t realised that in summer, it’s not dark until close to midnight. Not practical. For several months, an excess of light was a good excuse to delay lightpainting.

It seemed to me such a complicated project. Where do I find a room that is sufficiently dark even at night in the fall? There seem to be a street lights, equipment LEDs, passing traffic, and what have not just about everywhere. So much hassle. But well, you cann’t be postpone chores forever, so with healthy reluctance I decided to use the last two instax pictures that were still in a camera. Just to get it over with.

So I turned off all the lights, faced the camera to the back of the room, away from the street light, put it on a tripod and opend the shutter in the B-mode. With a bicycle light I drew some spirals. I didn’t expect anything to come out of it, just wanted to be able to say: tried it, didnt work. But to my amazement, I saw a very small light on the picture. Well, allright then, I used the last shot, moved my light a bit slower for more exposure. And lo and behold! A lightpainting! Not the most exciting one, but hey, so much more than I had expected.

Lightpainting. Diana F + Intant Back with Fuji Instax Mini film.

Lightpainting. Diana F + Intant Back with Fuji Instax Mini film.

Well, and then it actually became fun. I still didn’t really feel like going out looking for a nice location, or complex experimenting, but a bit of tinkering on a rainy Saturday afternoon is allright. And I always wanted to try lightstencils. This site tells you how to handle that, with much better example photos than my final result.

First, just some ordinary light paintings with my bicycle lights, to get in the mood.

Lightpainting. Ricoh WG-4 on fireworks mode (F2.8, 4 sec, 125 ISO).

Lightpainting. Ricoh WG-4 on fireworks mode (F2.8, 4 sec, 125 ISO).

Lightpainting. Ricoh WG-4 on fireworks mode (F2.8, 4 sec, 125 ISO).

Lightpainting. Ricoh WG-4 on fireworks mode (F2.8, 4 sec, 125 ISO).

Lightpainting. Ricoh WG-4 on fireworks mode (F2.8, 4 sec, 125 ISO).

Lightpainting. Ricoh WG-4 on fireworks mode (F2.8, 4 sec, 125 ISO).

As you can see, I decided to do my project with the digicam. Even though my digicam doesn’t have full manual settings (I used the fireworks setting), the advantage is that I have not lost heaps of expensive film to some half-assed experiments. That’s a big plus, because the light stencil I cobbled together needed some test runs before it gave an even slightly acceptable result. Kind of. My flash gives so much light that I had to paste more and more layers of paper behind my template, because it would otherwise become an overexposed spot instead of a recognizable figure. But eventually there was a picture to see.

I kept adding more layers of paper between test shots because the was still too much light.

My stencil is a bit on the small side, but when you zoom in, the bat is actually recognizable. In any event, it raises hope for a second version, which is bigger, and on another flash. This time, I used my standard Lomography flash, but that’s is a bit small and awkward to use in this setup. It also produces a huge amount of light. In addition, my stencil was not very light-tight at the back, which made my hand and the box in which the stencil visible.

Lightpainting with light stencil. Ricoh WG-4 on fireworks mode (F2.8, 4 sec, 125 ISO).

Lightpainting with light stencil. Ricoh WG-4 on fireworks mode (F2.8, 4 sec, 125 ISO).

Still, this result is so encouraging that I might actually build a bigger version for one of the other flashes in my collection. A good excuse to use those as well.

Allright, as a bonus here’s another instax picture. I ♥ film, after all.

Lightpainting. Diana F + Intant Back with Fuji Instax Mini film.

Lightpainting. Diana F + Intant Back with Fuji Instax Mini film.

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12 Months, 12 Projects – August Art Remake

Because there are still too many hours of daylight for light painting, my project for August would be the photographic remake of a piece of art. Let’s come clean right away: I was scandalously lazy. Here is a (poorly framed) picture of a banana.

Diana F+ Instant Back and Fuji Instax mini film.

Diana F+ Instant Back and Fuji Instax mini film.

You know, after Warhol.

My excuse, most of August I was on vacation. I could of course claim that one of the holiday pics I took is a reinterpretation of a landscape of, I don´t know, Turner or something, but then I would be lying. So suddenly it was the beginning of September and I thought: Crap! My project! I had to think of something not too complicated fast. Enter Warhol.

And in case you were wondering: the fact that the banana is an instant photo is not a clever reference to Warhol’s Polaroids. It just saved me some processing time.

In my defense: I have tried to make some more pseudo-Warhols. The three Elvisses became three legs, but the Instax is not entirely suitable for triple exposures: the picture is so overexposed that you can hardly recognize even one leg. I also wanted to change the Marilyn Monroe series into a grid of Jack Nicholsons, but I think I was too close to the graffiti with my prism lens, because apart from a single eye here and there, the result is quite abstract. No succes there either.

Diana F+ Instant Back and Fuji Instax mini film.

Diana F+ Instant Back and Fuji Instax mini film.

Diana F+ Instant Back and Fuji Instax mini film.

Diana F+ Instant Back and Fuji Instax mini film.

Even that banana was a bit of a struggle, because the white street I photographed it on reflected so much light that the first attempt was terribly overexposed (and slightly out of focus).

Diana F+ Instant Back and Fuji Instax mini film.

Diana F+ Instant Back and Fuji Instax mini film.

But it is what it is. A it of a shame, because potentially the art remake is a nice idea. I´ll keep it in mind and maybe try again some other time.

12 Months, 12 Projects – July: Up and Down

For my July project, I had decided on photography from extreme angles. That is, shoot straight up and shoot from just above the ground. This was actually inspired by those pictures of skyscrapers from below. You know the type, straight edged pictures with a bright blue sky between three or four imposing buildings bending to the center of the picture. Or those pictures straight up from Parisian courtyards. A whole alphabet has even been created from pictures like that. The close-to-the-ground part of the project was a sort of saftey, in case I didn’t find cool shots straight up.

I must admit, I didn’t really try my best this month. I wanted to use the Holga, because I have decided that August is Holga month on my blog. That limited the possibilities a bit. In the absence of too much angle of view, the those high-rise building did not really work out. I don’t have any handy skyscrapers or quaint little courtyards close by. Our local office buildings are not so high or close together that it makes for an interesting picture. Some old alleys in the inner city proved to be slightly interesting, and the art at Amsterdam sculpture event Art Zuid produced a nice straight up photo, and that was more or less it.

The low pictures were easier to realize. Though I have to learn to keep my camera straight, since in half of my pictures the horizon is skewed. I really should put the camera on the ground for these kind of pictures. Half a meter above the ground doesn’t quite produce the extreme picture I was looking for.

Well, all in all, not a very spectacular result. Nevertheless, it has encouraged me to look for other points of view more often. For example, when I didn’t just took a regular frontal view of the monument at the center of the Netherlands, but also tried an extra low point of view. I probably wouldn’t have done that if it handn’t been for my project. I wouldn’t have photographed the artwork either, and have missed a fairly nice picture. It once again made me realize that it’s good to think about things in a different way. That’s another win.

12 months, 12 projects – June: Hacked Supersampler

Contrary to what my plan for 2017 states, I did not try lightpainting last month. In stead, I’ve hacked a Supersampler. The Supersampler is a funny little camera with four lenses underneath each other. When you take a picture, it fires four times in a row, one lens after the other. All four pictures will appear as a narrow strip on a piece of negative the size of a standard photo.

Lomography Supersampler II and Lomography F2 CN 400 film.

Lomography Supersampler II and Lomography F2 CN 400 film.

Inside the camera you can see dividers between the lenses, which make sure that the four strips are clearly delimited and the images do not overlap. If you remove the dividers, the imagees will overlap. Disadvantage: removing the dividers is irreversible. The plastic strips are firmly attached to the camera. You can break them out, but you will not be able stick them back. Quite a step, one that I never dared to take with my Supersampler.

But some time ago I found a Supersampler in the local thrift store, new in its box. A great opportunity to finally try the trick with the dividers removed.

With some pliers, I quickly had the dividers out. Whether it was due to the customized interior, I don´t know, but it took me quite a bit of effort to get the film properly inside the camera. Somehow, the take-up spool didn’t take. But in the end, it seemed to work, and I could go ahead. I took the Supersampler II on a cycling holiday trough Belgium.

The result is not bad at all! The images captured by the different lenses overlap, but are still recognizable as four different images. No murky blur of four overlapping pictures. It works best if you keep the camera in landscape mode so the lenses are sitting next to each other (rather than above each other). That way, you get one beautifully overlapping image. If you hold the camera upright, it will be a less integrated picture. You often get a relatively large amount of sky in the top half of a picture, which in the Supersampler II portrait mode will overlap the image underneath. White clouds trump darker bits of landscape. Of course, if the sky is darker (blue), or not in the image at all, ‘this is not a problem at all.

Lomography Supersampler II and Lomography F2 CN 400 film.

Lomography Supersampler II and Lomography F2 CN 400 film.

As with the unmodified Supersampler, Supersampler II delivers the best pictures when you’re close to your subject. In my opinion, portraits therefore do better than landscapes. Because the image always overlaps, you should take into account a certain amount of overexposure. Still, this is not really a big deal, since we’re talking about tiny plastic lenses.

I think this was a successful experiment: Supersampler II is actually more fun than number I.

 

2017 Resolutions

The year is almost halfway trough, but let me just share the photographic New Year’s resolutions I made in January. I have been doing this the past few years. It helps me to think of something to do when I’m bored and to get better at photography by forcing me to  actually do the things I have been thinking about.

January
I’ve been meaning to take more nice camera porn pictures of my classic camera’s. The winter is a good time to improvise a home studio and take some pretty camera portraits.

Update

Done!

February
The 1/4 splitzer is a super fun trick to make fantastic abstract architectural flowers. Let’s see how that works out with a 1/3 splitzer.

Update

Not bad! It’s a bit harder that the 1/4 splitzer, but I did get some cool pics.

March
I managed to get the hang of caffenol developing. But all that counting and turning tanks and timing is a bit of a hassle. Stand developing seems an easier option, so I´m going to delve into that in March.

Update

A glorious success! It´s easy, and the results were good.

April
April traditionally is for pinholes. Making a new pinhole camera is always fun, but perhaps this time I´ll play around with an existing camera. The combination pinhole / microclicks is playing trough my head…

Update

I had set my mind on some instant pinholes, a combination of the Diana F+’s Instant Back and pinhole setting. A bit of a failure. I took some pictures with the Holga PC 135 that did turn out fairly okay, though.

May
In a bag full of photo gear someone gave me, I found a polarisation filter. A promising new toy that I want to learn how to use.

Update

Not a great success. It clearly takes more practice, and a camera without light leaks.

June
One of those thing I always admire in other peoples pictures is lightpainting. I never got around to trying it myself, though. This year, I’m going to.

July
New points of view are always good. In June, I’ll take pictures straight up, or from ground level. Let’s see if this will give me a new perspective of the world.

August
I found a new Supersampler at the thrift store. I always wanted to modify mine by taking out the dividers between the lenses, but I was afraid to ruin my camera. Now that I have a spare, I can finally try it.

September
I want to do a photographic re-make or re-interpretation of an existing work of art. A painting, a record cover, a song, a film… I’ve got 9 months to think of something.

October
I want to photograph an entire quote or slogan, letter by letter, in the right order, so if you look al the negative, you can read the entire quote. I tried this before, but failed (wrong camera, it took way too long). This time, I’ll make it work.

November
I will do a serie (or more than one serie), of a particular location in different seasons, to document the passing of time.

December
After every holiday or bigger trip, I make one of those printed photo albums. Usually of my digital pics, because it’s more of a memory of how the trip was than an art project. It would be nice to have a printed book of my best analogue pictures. A good job for the cold days of December.