Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Why you should try double exposure photography.

Double (or triple) exposures can be exciting and unexpected, but you don't see them very often. This style of photography is often forgotten by amateur photographers, and that's a shame because it's very fun to do. Especially on film.

Since I don't have a decent DSLR right now I had no choice but to do it with my toy-like Smena 8M, it's a soviet film camera, you can read my impressions of it here. One of the reasons why the Smena 8M is so liked by many, is it's ability to take double exposures. But this time I decided to do it differently. I didn't take two shots at once, instead I wanted it to be more wild and random. 

What I did was use a roll of film twice. Shot all 24 shots with it once, and then reloaded it and used it again. This gives you completely unexpected results. I went around the city of Vilnius taking pictures all day, I was walking until my legs and feet were in pain. Honestly I think I walk so much I don't even notice until I can't move anymore, photography is going to make me immobile one day.

Vilnius is such a beautiful city, my favorite. Even though I wouldn't say it's a very multicultural city, it gets a lot of tourists. So many that I heard English and other languages as much as Lithuanian on the streets yesterday. The contrast between the super modern central business district and the old town is so interesting, you could even mix them up as two different cities, that's why I love to shoot here.

So I bought the film, shot 24 different photos and then reloaded it carefully and shot another 24. The pictures obviously didn't line up properly, but I warned the shopkeeper in the photo lab when making the photos so he wouldn't have gotten confused. Next day I had the photos. Honestly they could be better but I will post them here.

You can see how my photos aligned the second time, , one photo a full one and it's double exposed by a half, and a second half of 2 photos. Some of them you can't even see because the original was either too light or too dark. It was definitely an interesting experiment and I love the photos that I got.

These three are from different shoots, double and triple exposure shots that I made by taking two pictures in a row, one on top of the other. Clouds double expose really really nicely, and they are probably my favourite thing to double expose. I did try to stay away from taking pictures of clouds when I was taking pictures yesterday though.

I do believe that double exposure photography is underrated and ignored by many so I would love to get people interested in this style, and hopefully after looking at my photos you will try it yourself!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

A legendary Polaroid Instant.

While rummaging through cupboards, I found gold.

It was gold to me anyway. A legendary Polaroid. I don't know why I think so highly of them, maybe because I've never seen one used or maybe because of its original vintage look. It was fascinating to hold a weird camera like that, the first thing that I wanted to do was take a photo, unfortunately I couldn't do that. And I probably won't be able to for a good while.
Polaroid has stopped making instant film, but a company called Impossible has started doing it again! I went over to the website and noticed that the prices are high, about 23 dollars for 8 pictures, and another 8 dollars for shipping. Hopefully the prices will fall soon, because I can't wait to try the camera out.
It's a Polaroid closeup 636, which can take close up picture from .6 to 1.2m, all you have to do is slide a plastic lens in front of the actual lens. It feels gimmicky.
I wanted to share my thoughts about this beautiful camera. I can't wait to buy some film and take some pictures with it, shall I ask Santa to get me some?

Mobile phone trick, how to take amazing macro photos.

I'd like to show you a trick that I learned god knows where.

It still amazes me! You will be able to take awesome macro shots with your phones camera, coming up closer than any DSLR could.
This will work best if your phone has a flat camera lens, such as the one on the iPhone. All you have to do is place a drop of water on the lens, covering the entire lens. Most normal people wouldn't dare to expose their phone to water, but I like to take chances, and the results are definitely worth the risk! (If your phone does accidentally go for a swim however, remove the battery and place both the phone and the battery in a bowl of rice for a couple of hours and hope for the best. Rice will suck moisture out of the phone.) 
The bigger the drop of water, the closer you will be able to get, and the shallower the depth of field will be (what is depth of field? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_of_field). If the drop of water is very big, it will wobble a lot and the focusing will be extremely difficult, so it will be very hard to get any sharp pictures. I found that a small drop of water, that creates a small bump about 1mm above the lens works best, but you will have to experiment to get the best results. Focus by just moving the lens closer and further away from the subject. You will have to get very close to get a focused image. I assure you that once you see what you can do, you won't want to put your phone down!

Last week I went over to my summer house where there is no internet, so I decided to take photos for this post, now I'm back in the city where I'm writing this post. My grandmother grows lots of flowers at my summer house, so I had a lot of things to shoot. Here are some examples made with an iPhone 4S.

A drop of water focusing sunlight on a clover.
Small spider web on a rose bush thorn.

A small strawberry.

The stigma of a flower surrounded by its stamen.

Yellow rose.

Add caption


Cat hair.

Some things that you could try taking pictures of is sugar granules or other spices, tips of a pencil/pens or anything that I have take a picture of here. Hopefully you will be able to follow the method I posted above, and get some great pictures!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Making pinhole cameras at Art Vilnius '13.

Last week I attended a massive art fair, Art Vilnius'13. I was so excited because I've never been to such events. I just had to go, especially after I found out that there is going to be a pinhole workshop!

I've always wanted to try pinhole photography, I've looked up all kinds of tutorials, but they were all way too difficult to make, and I didn't have the materials, so I never got around to it. For those who don't know what it is - pinhole photography is where you have a box, any box, doesn't even have to be a box it can be a tin and you have a pin hole in it. The box has to be sealed off from all light, the only light that should enter the box is from the pinhole. Then you place some light-sensitive paper in the box, or film, and open it to light for a period of time, depending on the amount of light on the scene.

A pinhole camera made out of 
So I arrived at 11:30. The workshop was run by students from the Vilnius Academy of Arts who probably weren't used to working as teachers, it was quiet funny and cool. They were really friendly and made you feel welcome. They had a developing lab there, with the developer, and fixer baths. We sat down to learn how to make pinhole cameras.

I used a metal coffee tin, it was great because I didn't have to cover it up with anything else, it was light proof. What I did was make a bigger hole with a big needle first because the metal was too thick to make a small pin hole. Then I sanded down the rough metal edges on the inside to make it smooth. For the pinhole, we used thinner metal, from a coke can. I used a simple pin to make the hole. You have to be really careful not to make it too big. Even the thickness of the actual pin is too big, so don't push it all the way through. Once again sand down the rough metal edge on the piece of thin metal. Then I just stuck it to the inside of the tin. You may want to paint the inside of your container black, that way the light won't bounce around inside as much. I made 3 pinhole cameras that day, one from a metal cube tin, another from a carton box, but this tin one was the most successful. All you have to do then is place some photo sensitive paper on the inside, you may need to fasten it so it doesn't move around.
Inside of the tin, with photo paper in place

Practice makes perfect.
You have to experiment with different times to get the right exposure, outside - 30 seconds might be enough, inside - 30 minutes. It depends on many things. When I was done exposing, I went into the lab where there was total darkness except for a red light, just like in the movies. I placed the paper into the developer first, the image then appeared on the surface. After that, I dipped it in the fixer, which stopped the reaction with light. After that you wash it in water to remove the chemicals. That day we were developing black-white negatives only.

I was running to and from the building, taking photos and experimenting. I was exhausted and with a headache. I was there till 18:00. I must have looked pretty weird running around all day with boxes and tins, sellotaping them to different surfaces. My exposures inside took especially long, but it was so exciting to see if it worked. All the other participants were so enthusiastic, and all the photos were hung up on the wall. It was so fun to see children and adults make their own cameras and get involved.

The original photos are negatives, these are scanned and made into positives in Photoshop.

Looking down onto the galleries. 40 minute exposure

I forgot to cover the hole in the camera and realised too late, accidental photo

Litexpo building. 10 second exposure

Litexpo building 2. 15 second exposure

These are just some of the photos I made that day. Art Vilnius '13 was a great way to spend the day, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who can visit next year!

My first beauty, the Smena 8M (photos)

I want to tell you about how I became interested in film cameras. 

Last Summer, my dearest cousin visited me all the way from Israel, and brought something I've never seen or used before (if you don't count those times when I was a baby and I used to play with film cameras, I would open them all the time, and ruin the film). It was the FED 5. I thought it was beautiful. It was like an artifact, like something out of a soviet museum. The vintage look of it attracted my attention. I was excited to learn how to use it. 

Before getting my hands on the FED 5, I only had experience with digital cameras, the Canon 550D was my companion, so this analogue world was brand new to me. The rangefinder camera was all manual, and fiddling with the speeds, exposures and other buttons was a joy, I really did feel like a child again. Unfortunately for my cousin, I kept forgetting to focus when taking pictures, so I ruined some film, and I still occasionally make the same mistake. 
But the most exciting part was developing the film. I can still remember the anticipation and excitement of waiting for it to develop. I couldn't wait to see how the photos turned out. That was the main thing that sparked the love for film cameras in my heart.

This summer I decided to do something so obvious I can't believe I've waited all year to do it, that's buy my own film camera! Of course this market was brand new to me, and I didn't know anything about any of the old film cameras, but I researched, and came across the Smena 8M. It was perfect. Small. Vintage design. Soviet. A real beauty. A beginners toy. 

Lithuania is a post-soviet state, so you would be able to find such cameras everywhere. I went to the local Sunday flea market where there's dozens of them, and you could guess, when I saw my Smena, I was beaming. It was in great condition. With it I also received a black leather case that says Ломо (Lomo in Russian) on it, and a flash called Saulutė (Sun in Lithuanian). All for just 20 litas! That's about 6 euro! A bargain, bought it straight away. Unfortunately the flash doesn't fit properly, it has a slightly different hot-shoe construction, but with a little tweak I think I'll be able to get it to work.

My baby, my beautiful Smena 8M. 
It was hard to get used to it, but after reading the instructions 5 times slowly, I finally understood them. Using it is so easy, it's definitely not for advanced photographers. I learnt that the hard way.

It has some flaws. 
The viewfinder is practically useless, it is a window far away from the lens and some photos don't come out with the composition that you wanted, slightly too high, too far to the left or right etc. Some great photos were ruined this way. The focusing is also not exact, you focus by selecting the approximate distance from your object, 1 meter to infinity. The lens even has little pictures of people and buildings on it to help you focus. The shutter speed can be selected in two ways, the first is with the pictures provided on top or the shutter speeds on the side. So once again this camera is really easy to use for people who don't know which shutter speed to use. The plastic casing creaks when you handle the camera, but what do you expect, it's 30 years old.

Don't look away from it yet though!
Light leaks are common, but I like them, so I don't mind. I bought this camera specifically because of the photos that it takes. Sharpness is great when you get the focus right, and saturation of the photos is really good as well, so when the photos is composed and focused well, expect it to look good. All in all it is a really fun camera, and I'm happy with it.

Here are scans of some of the photos I took.

Triple exposure

Double exposure

Red lens flare

Nice greens in this photo
 The colours are slightly off, the photos look much better in person.
That's it for now, hopefully I didn't bore you to death, and thanks for reading!