Am I seeing double?
Well, it's fall semester and I'm in photo class again. This past spring was so inspiring and engaging that I knew I had to keep printing and using the Dark Rooms this semester. On the first day of class I got to pick up all my prints from the Spring. I had been waiting all Summer to see what the professor thought and get them on the website in the Black and White section. It was good to see some old projects with fresh eyes and take note of what I could improve on. Alright, I don't hate to say it, I usually get A's so when one of my prints received a B+ I knew there was a lot to consider in this print. At first I dissagreed with my professor completely. "What about this shot is too crowded? I like the way it looks." But there were clearly some errors in my technique, like that my greys weren't matching up, and that I overlooked the need for dodging and burning. So when I went home that day after class, I knew this semester would be a whole new challenge: getting my technique from beginner to intermediate (at least).
A few classes go by and I'm getting on my feet again. Remembering how to convert to compatible shutter and apertures, learning new things about light ratios, and getting my mind back into the black and white film look. This semester is different because I have the opportunity to do digital for any of my projects. Even though it's a valid medium, I still think it could be a cop-out for fear of not making good enough prints in the dark room. At the start of class I had some doubts about shooting on film again and here's why. Film is precise and unforgiving of poor technique, and printing is no different. I need to practice a lot more and gain more knowledge and skills. To challenge myself, this semester I vowed to start developing at home, but the thought of trying to control all these variables in my tiny bathroom just sounded impossible. But I won't shy away from film and do digital just because its easier. I want to be as professional as possible and develop an advanced technique in both, to then be able to use that to create what is born in my mind's eye. The union of creativity and technique creates explosive arts.
So I had an idea. I was going to play with double exposures for this first project. From using my dual reflex lomography camera, I had become interested in double exposures. I experimentaed with many complex combinations of images just by freely tripping the shutter. But with this project, I had to be calculated. I did some research and found out that I really liked the way double exposed photos looked when they used the shadow portion of one image to have the second image be projected onto it. The shadows and the highlight were like canvases for a negative image. I was so entralled with this look. Where else can we experience images simultaneously in reality? I also wanted to see how my Canon AE-1 does double exposures since its shutter winds the film as well. I realized with my research, that if I started a roll with double exposures, I would have film that would be out of alignment. But I didn't really mind because I'm used to a more free, lomography style mentality for film (which is actually wasteful and risky). This roll currently in my camera needs to be finished with double exposures only. It's a whole new way of seeing light and dark, highlight and shadow, light values and composition. And I have to commit to crafting each shot to work. How do I look for these types of scenes?
How do I create this effect purposefully? I'm thinking of how to answer those questions during the week when I'm out of class. I think about photography and how to link it to my eye, my imagination. How to make my camera speak for what I see. I'm riding on a school bus that is being used as a shuttle to my roommate's dance perfomance in the Redwood Forest, when I see what could have been a conceptualized double exposure. The tinted window of the bus was creating a deep shadow, an area that was about 3 stops underexposed if I were to take a photo of it. Then, reflected onto the the bright area of the window was the light bouncing off the bus' side view mirror. I was seeing what was moving behind us, and at the same time in the shadows, I saw what was moving past us. Two images, one was in the shadows and one was in the highlight. I was experiencing a live double exposure due to the difference in light. It was such a beautiful moment to know, that photography was just another way to see things. Our eyes see it one way, and we cherish that, but it's a new way to experience this world visually. And if I didn't know about photography I don't think that moment would have brought me as much joy as it did. For that I am thankful and I am passionate about taking photos.