I only have a week left here, so I’m probably down to my last blog post or two. This one is about all of the cool analog photography we’ve been doing in my class. I didn’t really think about anything but taking pictures on my digital camera when I signed up for photography, but I’m very glad that my teachers thought about analog photos!
The first analog photography technique we learned about was pinhole cameras. In theory, these things should be pretty easy to use: put photo paper in a box that’s painted black on the inside with the pinhole covered, uncover the hole, and develop the photo. Easy, right? Wrong. The difficult part about pinhole cameras is that the tiniest thing can make the photo. If the inside of the box isn’t completely pitch black, the picture is overexposed. If the pinhole is too large, the picture is overexposed. If you don’t leave the shutter open long enough, it’s underexposed. Every little detail has to be exactly right for this to work well. Since all of us are amateur photographers, none of us had perfect pinhole prints. That’s okay though, because it was very cool to see it work and make adjustments to make the pictures look better.
The second type of analog photography we tried was photograms. These are much easier than pinhole cameras are. With these, all you do is put an object on top of photo paper and expose it to light for a few seconds. It sounds really simple and it is, but it’s probably the coolest thing we did. Taking photograms of translucent objects is really amazing because you’re able to see the levels and layers inside of it. Some of my classmates used lemons and theirs came out very cool. I used a flower for one and my phone case for another. The one of my phone case came out really well, and I’m excited for my instructors to see it!
The next technique was film cameras. We worked in pairs with these cameras and each pair got a roll of film that would take 36 pictures. Developing these was a little more complicated and long than the other types of analog photography. I ended up not really liking a lot of the pictures I took, so I ended up going with one I took of some flower right outside the institute. I’m really happy with how it came out.
The last thing I want to talk about is cyanotypes. I’m not sure that these count as analog photos, but I’m putting them in with this post anyway! For these, we chose a photo and edited it in Photoshop to make it black & white and then inverted it so it was negative. We e-mailed that version to one of our instructors and she had it printed on special paper. In class, we painted this really thick paper with some chemicals (apparently cyanide was involved?) and waited for them to dry. To make the prints, we placed our photo on top of the painted paper and put it in a special frame. The chemicals react to UV light, so the paper has to stay inside until you are ready to make the print. For the photo to transfer to the paper, you just take it outside and expose it to sunlight. It was overcast the day we did this, so it took about 15 minutes of exposure for it to get to the right point. When exposed, the chemicals turn blue (which makes sense, because cyan is blue and they’re called cyanotypes) and your photo is printed!
The analog photography has been one of the coolest experiences here. I am very excited to bring all of my prints home and hopefully frame them or something. They’re also printing a poster of our favorite photo for each of us to bring back, which I’m really excited about. I’ll be able to have a poster in my room next year of my own photography! I picked a picture of wisteria that I took in Copenhagen. I can’t wait to see it printed out full-size!