Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Photography: techniques we love, part II

Today is the last day of our photography techniques we love and to finish it all off I will be showing you how to create a baseboard distortion print and a multiple mask. If you missed Part 1 of our photography techniques then you can check it out here. I can't wait to use them in September!
A distortion print is a print that is made with the negative or printing paper held in a warped or distorted position. e.g. not flat. 

What do I need? a darkroom, photographic paper, 35mm negatives, lead weights and some patience!

Instructions: The best way to create a distortion print is to place your negative in the enlarger carrier as normal and hold the printing paper in a curved plane during exposure, which was the technique used to make the print shown above. Place your printing paper in the desired position under the enlarger and hold it in place by using one small lead weight at each corner. Once in position, place the enlarger safelight filter across the lens and focus your negative on the uppermost point of the printing paper. At this point you will have to play around to find the required exposure and correct aperture on the enlarger lens as each image is going to be different. You will probably need a relatively long exposure and a small aperture to increase the depth of your image. Develop, fix, wash and dry your print as normal - your students won't be able to stop creating these!

TIP: Want to distort your print even more? Then diffuse it! All you need to do is create a diffusing screen (tights or stockings will work perfectly for this!) and stretch the material over a 4in square cut into some black card. The amount of diffusion can be controlled by varying the time you introduce the screen during exposure or by varying the density of the mesh in the stretched piece of tight/stocking. Happy diffusing!

So, what's a multiple mask? A multiple mask is a hand cut masking method for repeated image production from one negative onto one sheet of printing paper. By altering angles or selecting more or less of an overall image it is possible to convey a totally different view of an otherwise straightforward picture and bring those students grades up! The photograph of a horse's head illustrated below was selected as an image for repeating in a short sequence to suggest movement.
What do I need? a darkroom, 10x8 in photographic paper, black card (10x8in), scissors and 35mm negs!

Instructions: Cut a series of rectangular apertures from your sheet of 10x8in black card - make sure the apertures are spaced within the overall format you want your images to be printed! Once you have cut your mask, head into the darkroom and place your selected negative into the enlarger carrier (ensuring the safelight filter is in position). Place the cut mask on top of your sheet of 10x8in printing paper and project your selected image, ensuring it is focused into the first left-hand aperture. Your image should virtually fill the 35mm negative format and consequently there should be no unwanted image or light falling upon the other apertures. If there is, don't worry! Just mask off the other apertures with a piece of black paper or card. After removing the safelight filter and making the first printing exposure, replace the safelight filter and move the combined mask and printing paper to the second aperture. Compose your image for the second aperture and expose again. Carry on this process and continue until all apertures have been individually composed and printed. Remove the cut mask and develop, fix, wash and dry as normal. 

TIP: Get your students to look and see within their image first by using a handmade viewfinder over the top of their images. Students will learn how to selectively enhance their compositions and create subtle impressions of movement by varying the angle and placement of their viewfinder. It will also help improve their future picture taking!

I particularly love this technique as instead of traditional mounting onto A1 sheets students can create their mounted sheets already on photographic paper. It also really helps them focus on composition and select what works best out of an image. Do you use any other methods to create beautifully composed photos with your students? We'd love to see them!

- Kirsty ❤

  Image source: The Photographers Gallery

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