Light Painting Masters

Ive become quite taken by light painting recently and have been looking about for inspiration. Most of the great examples I can find are taken on digital cameras and there are limitations when using analogue. The greatest inspiration I could of got came from the very unlikely source of the Daily Mail! My wife showed me an article in there on Gjon Mili. (Lucy assures me she only reads it for the gossip)

Gjon Mili (November 28, 1904 – February 14, 1984) was an Albanian-American photographer best known for his work published in LIFE. This guy is all kinds of crazy good and it has put me on a trail to see some abosolute painting masters. This has inspired me no end and im going to be trying some shots out tonight.

He also did a lot of work taking inspiration from Picassos paintings.

Some other great masters are

Andreas Feininger

A friend of mine has a boyfriend with a helicopter so I’m hoping I get the chance to try it out.

David Lebe

Eric Staller

Jozef Sedlák

I had to post two pics from Jozef as I really like his shots. Apologies for the willies.

Kamil Varga

So who is your favourite? Do you know any others? Would you like to show me your own light painting attempts?

HRH

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Dishwashed Film

I have long been an admirer of distressed film techniques. There are various ways of distressing film such as dishwashing, soaking in salt water, silicon gel, rice. All can lead to great shots but what I love is that it is a massive experiment and the results are bespoke and unknown. You cannot guarantee what results you will get as you are playing with the chemical balance of the film and the reaction will be different each time.

I have recently purchased an Olympus OM1 and I decided the first roll to go through this awesome camera would be a distressed film. There are a number of people who have written about these techniques with deliberately misleading information and missing out vital steps. I had tried this technique before without success due to following someones recipe who thought it was clever to not tell people the full story. Analogue is not always a great community, some people do not want you to succeed contrary to what some marketing schemes would have you believe.

So here it is the Dishwashed Soup Technique (DST).

1. Get a film, any film would work but remember what you are going to shoot with it and in what camera and adjust your speed and type accordingly. From what I have seen they will come out darker than what you would if shooting without DST.

2. Load into your dishwasher! Take it out of its canister and its best to load it into a cutlery tray to avoid it flying about.

2. Once finished leave the film for a couple of days to relax. Somewhere nice and dry and out of the sun unless you wish to distress the film even more. The reason for leaving it to relax is because step 3 is applying a lot of heat and that may just tip the chemical reaction over the edge.

3.  Find yourself dark room and a hairdryer. You will need to pull the unexposed film out of the can and carefully dry it. Use nice big sweeping motions to avoid prolonged heat contact. When you pull the sticky film out I found it curls up a lot so a top tip is to attach a clothes peg to the end of the film, this will keep it nice and straight.

4. Shoot it.

I knew that with this film it’s not great for creating detail so I wanted to try to shoot some shapes. So I rang up another aspiring photographer, Mike and asked if he fancied coming on a photo walk through the countryside. We decided upon a nice 10 mile walk in Lower Crawley following an old disused railway line. The route is called Worth Way and I highly recommend it. Details of the route can be found here. Mike  (@Mikey_AbsentElk) was great company and walked at a good pace which was nice as I like to walk fast! He was shooting digital but don’t hold it against him. We saw wild deer, llamas, pigs, pheasants, squirrels, pigs and various birds. Was all going swimmingly until we met the main road and didn’t know the right way to go so asked an old lady which way. She pointed us in the (wrong) direction. It started raining. We walked about a mile down a really busy 50mph road which was a bit sketchy. After deciding the old lady had sold us up the garden path we turned round and did the mile again. We decided to escape the rain and headed to the nearest pub to sample the local ale. (God I’m old).

So here are some of my results from that day. If Mike is kind enough I will show you some of his shots later.

Would appreciate any feedback on the shots. I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea. The rest of the shots can be viewed on my flickr page. A word to the wise putting these types of film through a commercial lab is naughty. It can ruin their chemicals so either ask permission and be prepared to be shot down, send it away to a mass lab or give it to a lab you are not fussed about using again. I won’t disclose where I got these developed.

X-Ray Machines

The question about whether X-ray machines damage film is as old as Bruce Forsyth.

There are quite big devides and wars have been started over it.

*no wars have been started over it.

Well lets ask the professionals. Gatwick Airport kindly had the following to say.

Don’t worry – our x-ray machines won’t harm your film or equipment. The British Photographers’ Liaison Committee (BPLC), have given the all-clear to our hand-luggage x-ray inspection systems saying that it is safe for all normal film types (up to and including ISO 400) as well as for digital storage media.

Specialist film (ISO 800 and above) can sometimes be affected – but the effects are barely noticeable to the naked eye and do no become clearly visible until film is exposed around 32 times. But we can make special arrangements for photographers carrying professional film (ISO 800 and above) – just contact us our your airline before travel.

Professional photographers requiring more detailed information can contact the BPLC on +44 (0)20 7739 6669.

So there you go, take it in hand luggage and take 400iso and under and you will be fine.

Leningrad Optical Mechanical Union

Meaning of LOMO – “Leningrad Optical Mechanical Union”, or Leningradskoye Optiko Mechanichesckoye Obyedinenie, is an optical manufacturer in St. Petersburg, Russia which manufactures optical scientific, military and consumer products.

They made gun sights during WWI and produced the first Russian camera in 1930. The company exports world-wide and produces night-vision products and telescopes make up 30% of their exports.

The company was founded in 1914 as the Russian Optical and Mechanical Company and became LOMO PLC in 1993.

“…The LOMO camera — a kind of Russian update of the Instamatic, originally developed by the KGB for spying — has exploded in popularity over the past few years, appearing on wall projects in the New York City subway, in blogs and, most recently, as an aesthetic template for bank and car ads.” [Eye Weekly] 

It was established as a French – Russian limited company to produce lenses and cameras. It manufactured gun sights during World War I. In 1919, it was nationalised. In the ensuing years, the state optical industries were reorganised several times. In 1921, the factory was named the Factory of State Optics, G.O.Z. In 1925, camera production was resumed, and several lens designs tested between 1925 and 1929. In 1928, the factory was ordered to manufacture a 9×12 camera, known as the FOTOKOR.

Further reorganisations of the soviet optical factories in several stages finally resulted in that the factory at Leningrad became GOMZ, the Russian Optical and Mechanical Factory.

In the transition period 1932 to 1935 a copy of the Leica camera was developed, the VOOMP I. It was followed by the VOOMP II or the “Pioneer” that was manufactured in small numbers. Simultaneously designers began the development of a single-lens reflex camera for 35mm cine film, possibly inspired by similar work in Germany, especially at Zeiss Ikon in Dresden, since the lens mount is quite similar to that of the Contax cameras of the time. Zeiss themselves were not allowed to pursue their ideas, due to the German armament. The new camera, called the “Sport”, was introduced at about the same time as the Ihagee Kine Exakta in 1936.

Today LOMO makes military optics, scientific research instruments, criminological microscopes, medical equipment, and a range of consumer products. It produced the first Russian camera in 1930.