Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stray Light

Ben Huff posted on his blog recently about the disappointment of realizing that a few photographs from an important project were slightly altered because of a light leak somewhere in his system.

© Ben Huff

Like him and, I suspect, most other photographers, I also have had unexpected light hit the surface of my film. This is among the most frustrating occurrences in photography - to have gone all the way through your process and discover that it's less than perfect because of technical problems. It especially hurts when you know that the photos were good.

Below are a couple of my own "altered" photographs. In my case, I was processing my film, taping the tank lid closed, when the tape pulled the lid off for a split second. I was quite upset, even after looking at the processed film and realizing that I could at least make a print from it if I wanted. And after grudging acceptance, I grew to appreciate these photos and their imperfections.

© Brian Widdis

It helps that Ben's photos are quite nice to begin with, but the unexpected addition of the slight fog/discoloration gives them an organic feeling that is really nice. With digital technologies, it's still possible to ruin your photos after you've taken them, though not in nearly as beautiful a way.

In his Buried project, Stephen Gill took photographs in Hackney Wick and later buried the prints that he had taken there in an act of "collaboration" with the earth.

Here is part of what he says of the project:

"Not knowing what an image would look like once it was dug up introduced an element of chance and surprise which I found appealing. This feeling of letting go and in a way collaborating with place - allowing it also to work on putting the finishing touches to a picture - felt fair. Maybe the spirit of the place can also make its mark."

Maybe these light leaks are an unexpected collaboration with the light. And I hope it never happens to me again.....


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