Monday, August 30, 2010

Photographic Lies
As a student, I found Dave McKean's Mr Punch - a comic book about childhood memories with some dark undertones. For those of you who don't know Mr Punch, it's part photography and part drawn, the photos are all heavily shopped but the clue is that everything that's told with photography is false, lies, made up and everything that's drawn is the truth in this book.

Walking Photoshop
Later I found Fotomarathon which was part photography, part "24" (but without torture as such) and part making/building/customizing stuff on the go. We were a small group of people who did this for a few years and we worked on perfecting small, lightweight "In-Camera-Photoshop" kits.
I photographed a lot back then, carried my fotomarathon kit with me, because of the 24 picture limitation and the fact that you had to cash out to see your photos, I took care, I experimented, but I made sure my shots were as good as the could be. I never had a camera capable of doing double exposures and I've always missed it.

Going Digital
My skills went down the drain, I didn't take care anymore and photography became documentation. Sure, every now and again I went analog and took a few polaroids or played around with a 35mm plastic camera, but I never had one thing I had always wanted to explore: Double exposure and to me that seemed to be where you could really "photoshop".

The Unreal Camera
When my sister and her family gave me a Diana F+ I was forced to think again: 12-16 pictures on each roll, about 10 quid to get them processed and no automatic easy-way-out. There's also very little choice when it comes to exposure time and F-stops.

The camera has a plastic lens and is "badly" made, it produces random effects, combine with expired film and you let go of more control. Letting go of control is part of the "Lomography" ethos and it may seem silly, but it works, if you don't set out to take precise and "true" photos you gain the freedom to play, you give yourself the right to screw up and make something that looks nothing like what you photographed. I have taken a few straight photographs with it, but they are incredibly boring. That's what I like about this camera, it can't handle the truth - it is a "Mr Punch" camera. The above series of photos is from my second roll shot with the Diana, from about the middle of the film.

To me, this camera is for taking those "Mr. Punch" photos - documenting lies, fibs and tales. (The photos above are from my third roll.) This camera is my sketchbook camera, it is all about ideas and experiments, about creating something new out of the reality that lies before me, creating sights that don't exist.

A small "In-Camera-Photoshop" kit is coming together, but it'll be different this time as I now have my beloved double exposure. The above is what they call a Splitzer, named after a 10 quid image-splitter that they Lomography people sell.

The Blind Layout
It would absolutely be possible to use this as a layout tool using a series of masks, gels, lights to compose a book cover, a poster or any other piece of design, Instead of shoving things around in indesign, you cut out out your headline, mount it on black - or construct it of letters found in the streets, take a picture, then you dress up your model - you might want to use a dark haired model so you don't mess up the headline, you black up her face, take her picture, find a single cloud in the sky, construct a mask around it and position your camera so that the cloud will be where the model's face is. You wouldn't see your layout until it's processed.

I still carry my digital camera around, even more it's become a tool for documentation as I am not interested in the camera when I take these snaps, they are merely an extension of my memory where the Diana is an extension of my imagination.

More Diana shots on flickr

Anything you think I should try out, let me know.

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