Mittwoch, 17. Oktober 2012

I Dreamed of Flying Fish Last Night; or: How to Do Experimental Polaroids

A lot of people have asked me how I do my Polaroids, so I'd like to explain how I come up with ideas for my projects and how I eventually end up doing them. This is how I developed the concept for my latest Polaroid lift and realized it in practice.

I Dreamed of Flyig Fish Last Night

I have been exploring the manifold possibilities of creative Polaroid techniques lately and I would like to share my creative process with you, hoping that there are people interested in Polaroid doubling, lifting and transfering techniques...So, first of all, there has to be a general idea or inspiration for a cocept. My Flying Fish Polaroids were actually very roughly inspired by an expressionist piece of music I have been thinking about ever since I was 13 and listened to it back at school. It's Arnold Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire number 8, Nacht (Night):

Giant black butterflies
Have blotted out the sunshine.
A closed book of magic spells,
The horizon sleeps-silent.

Vapors from lost abysses
Breathe out an odor, murdering memory.
Giant black butterflies
Have blotted out the sunshine.

And from Heaven earthward
Gliding down on leaden wings
The invisible monsters
Descend upon our human hearts…
Giant black butterflies.

Finstre, schwarze Riesenfalter
Töteten der Sonne Glanz.
Ein geschlossnes Zauberbuch,
Ruht der Horizont – verschwiegen.

Aus dem Qualm verlorner Tiefen
Steigt ein Duft, Erinnrung mordend!
Finstre, schwarze Reisenfalter
Töteten der Sonne Glanz.

Und vom Himmel erdenwärts
Senken sich mit schweren Schwingen
Unsichtbar die Ungetüme
Auf die Menschenherzen nieder…
Finstre, schwarze Riesenfalter.

The music and text are intensely expressive and disturbing. Although I’m still very impressed by this piece, I myself can’t produce such expressive pieces of art. My style is more playful and dreamy, so I thought about how to make this whole thing my own. I ventured away from the oiginal idea quite a bit by turning the giant black butterflies into flying fish with butterfly wings and that’s where it all started…

So much for the intellectual level so to speak. Let's turn to the practical approach now.

I got myself some plastic fish and some plastic butterfly wings and made flying fish from them. In order to do this, I cut off the plastic butterfly wings and slit the sides of the plastic fish in order to put the wings into them. Then I hung them up on very thin plastic yarn and took a shot. Since I wanted to use a doubling technique, this was going to be the first layer:

I took another shot of a fittig background I chose accordigly. I decided I wanted it to be some kind of plant to make it look as if the fish was flying around a flower/plant. I chose lavendar because the dry streaky branches fit the decay I still had in mind when thinking of the original piece of music.

Then I put the two layers together, using th emulsion lift technique with each single shot and combining them on watercolour paper. Here's how to do the emulsion lifts as explained in the video blog from The Impossible Project.

And there it was, my I Dreamed of Flying Fish Last Night Double Lift

I Dreamed of Flying Fish Last Night

I also took a couple of other shots for this series, among them my first two tries at real double exposures. Th efirst one was way overexposed, but the second worked quite well:

The first double exposure: way overexposed

Polaroid Double Exposure

Straight Pola

Another Double Emuslion Lift

It worked out so well that the first shot ended up being mythird featured Polaroid on The Impossible Project's official Facebook page (next to the other two shots you can find underneath which were done using a similar ut slightly different technique...but it's enough for today I think)

My Mother and Hamurg Harbour Double

Brighton Beach Double

Moreover, my Water Nymph Polaroid got featured in the selectio of

Water Nymph I

My Polaroid featured on the selection of's main page on October 9, 2012

Freitag, 24. August 2012

Is there anybody out there?

This is what I often wonder when I write a blog post. It kind of feels like talking to myself or into the void, because it's hard to tell whether there are people who actually care, or whether I'm just doing it for myself (which isn't a bad thing as such I think). Maybe that's why I haven't posted much after starting off rather enthusiastically. But why am I still doing it anyways, then? And why do I use film after all?

Posting pictures on my blog, Facebook, Flickr or other photo sharing platforms is a way of showing what I do, but on a voluntary basis so to speak. Meaning, it's not the same like constantly shoving photos into other people's faces in "real" life because I'm oh-so-proud of the the things I do. Online, people can choose for themselves whether they fancy taking a look or not. I'm just not the kind of person who'd call myself an artist or whatever (feels very weird to even put myself into a line with "artistry" given that I have never ever considered myself particulalry creative or talented). I want people to decide for themselves.
In fact, I do feel proud, because I tought this whole photography thing to myself and worked quite a lot on it (the only talents I'm a natural at are the very boring ones of discipline and industriousness I guess). And I think I have come quite far even though I still have a very long way to go, that's for sure. But I have reached a level which makes me look at my pictures and think: "Hey, they're finally not that bad after all (Er, but hang on, that dark line there shouldn't really be there...damn I messed up)!" 

Also, I have moved from plastic cameras to Polaroids, the latter still within the realm of lo-fi photography. Polaroids offer endless options of manipulating and lifting which justify the high prize per shot, at least in my view. Also, because of reasons concerning my health, my financial situation, my occupation and my character as such (I've always been a homey person), I spend quite some time at home at the moment, and every now and then an idea comes up which I can't wait to try. But I'm the only person around, so I have to use myself even though I'd often prefer someone else being on the picture because I don't consider myself particularly photogenic (but waiting 2 weeks until I find a friend who can spare some time is also out of the question). So I ended up doing a lot of self-portraits lately.

So much for the blogging...but why do I use film? To sum it up, I don't use film, be it Polaroid or other, because I consider it more "authentic" in contrast to digital. I also don't think that using film makes a shot more valuable or artsy just because it is shot on film. Actually, I myself don't like to randomly shoot hundreds of pictures on film without thinking (the lomographic approach so to speak), but to put a lot of thought into each and every shot, before (planning the shot) AND after (analyzing the shot for flaws). Honestly, I prefer a well executed digital, photoshopped or smartphone app shot to any random vacation shot on film. The same goes for photographic effects, be it on film (x-pro, vignetting, the washed out colours of certain Polaroid films, etc), or those notorious Iphone apps. I use (analogue) lo-fi effects because I want them to enhance a certain aesthetic message in a given shot, not to make a boringly composed and framed picture of granny sitting on the couch more interesting. I like to believe that any given shot I produce is still interesting even when stripped off of its effects, and that the chosen effects highlight the shot at the same time. I'm still figuring out how to do that, though. So I choose cameras and films according to what I want to achieve and create, and I choose film because I think it makes me try harder and thus learn more in the long run than using app filters or photoshop. Still, I have seen great pictures shot on a Smartphone. It's the person behind the lens who counts, not the camera. The camera's always only a medium. The rest is up to you, and in my case, that "rest" sometimes works out, sometimes it just doesn't.

Just my 2 cents, though. I kind of felt like talking today, even if I'm just talking to myself really. If there's anyone who fancies, do feel free to leave a comment about your approach to film photography, or blogging, or life as such. It might end up making me feel that there are people out there in that void...

Sonntag, 29. Juli 2012

Polaroid Transfers and Lifts

It's been quite a while again...

Lately, I have kind of abandoned my Holga, my darkroom and printing activities in order to venture into the world of Polaroid transfers and lifts.

These are some of my results, mostly done by combining transparent layers of Polaroids with older emulsion lifts of mine (apart from the self portraits, obviously). I like the ways you can endlessly combine Polaroids in order to get "doubles" and how they kind of look like they were edgy paintings due to the watercolour paper I put them on. I know they are sort of cheesy, but I guess I'm a cheesy, playful person

I hope there's gonna be more soon, I'm pondering about transfering Polaroids on other surfaces than watercolour paper, e.g. wood or stones. Just have to find some nice wooden boxes...

PS: There's one handmade print I do like to show you, though: I tried some handcolouring and here's the result:

Dienstag, 3. Januar 2012

Prints and Polaroids!

It's been a while since my last post and I've been going on with my printing as usual...

Flawed refelction II: Holga print on PE

Holga Double: Print on PE

My Mother: Print on PE

My newest project, however, is my Polaroid SX-70 with which I tried out the peel-apart technique using expired Polaroid Artistic TZ. It all seemed so easy in the beginning- far too easy. I had no troubles whatsoever peeling the different layers apart and it all seemed to stick at first- but when the watercolour paper started drying the whole thing started to crack and I spent 3 DAYS (!!!) repeating the whole process over and over again just to save as much of the shot as I could...

Polaroid TZ Artistic Lifted

Polaroid TZ Artistic

Samstag, 1. Oktober 2011

Spirited Away...Another Holga Print

I was really fascinated watching this small girl being totally carried away by the performance of a clown during a street theatre festival in Berlin (Berlin Lacht! International Street Theatre Festival), so I took some shots with my Holga and printed the best one today.

That's what theatre can do: touch your soul and your heart....

Spirited Away

I like the way the dreaminess of the Holga fits the motif...

Dienstag, 27. September 2011

Just a few more Minolta and Holga prints from this summer

Summer is over, and here are just a few very personal immpressions of what I did during this season- mainly working, but luckily, also a little travelling.

I worked as assistant director for a small political theatre group during this summer...

I also travelled the Czech Republic for a week (we mostly stayed in Prague, though)...

And here's my personal favourite from our little trip: taken during a train ride to the Czech "hinterlands" (I didn't cut it, because I like the sort of Polaroid-like format):

Sonntag, 17. Juli 2011

Holga and Rollei Crossbird at Fusion Festival: A Review

I took my Holga to the Fusion festival and tried Rollei Crossbird film for the first time ever. It's quite interesting to see how many different colours this one film can yield depending on the light. It seems to me that more light/longer exposure produces more green, while less light yields more natural hues...

These fairly over-exposed pictures were taken during a bright sunny day:

The following were taken during the next day, which was rather rainy and overcast:

I honestly think that the film has a much higher ISO than it says (200 ISO), because the bright sun lead to totally over-exposed shots and my Holga normally tends to produce underexposed shots. 
Another explanation might be that the Rollei Crossbird film is much more sensitive to overexposing than the more robust and easy-going B&W films I'm used to (e.g. Kodak Tri-X and Ilford HP5) and needs correct exposure. But then, how come the 200 ISO film produces much more correctly exposed shots in overcast weather than the 400 ISO film- which came out a little underexposed in the same conditions?

To compare, these are some shots which I took during the same rainy day using my Holga and Kodak Tri-X 400 ISO:

I'm confused...