Pinhole Camera Positive to Negative

What is created in the camera is negative images. The more light that has hit the paper, the darker it will be. The less light that has hit the paper, the lighter it will be. To see the positive images before developing, I used the inverted screen on iPhone, which was successful in showing me which photographs looked successful in positive.

To make the positive images, a glass easel was used by placing the negative emulsion side down to the new photographic paper that is emulsion side up. This will invert the image as well as the hues to create a positive image. Before choosing the settings of time and filter in the darkroom, a test strip was completed before developing any of the negatives into final positives. Below is two examples with 5 second steps and using two different filters; a 2 and 2.5. The higher the number of the filter, the bigger the step in tones, which allows you to see detail very well. You are able to see in the left hand image that there is more detail of the building, however the right hand side shows more detail and clarity overall. This process was completed each time before a positive was made to determine the timing and filter that needed to be used for that image.

I was very pleased with the final positive images and my understanding of filters and the use of the enlarger in the dark room. I did find that there were dark streaks appearing across my paper and this was due to an unclean developing technique. I tried to rectify this, however I believe the chemicals were being held in the tongs. I would like to try with a new pair to see if this continues to happen. I enjoyed this project as it was something completely different to what I was used to, and allowed me to step outside my box a little. It was difficult not knowing what I was taking an image of, however that was part of the excitement. When viewing other people’s works, many of us had taken an image of the stairs behind the building, and it was interesting to see the many different perspectives of the one item. I would like to carry on with pinhole photography and the idea of the unknown and the concept of taking an image of the mundane and making it seem beautiful and interesting.
Five of these were chosen for sans camera, the first photography assignment.

Making A Pinhole Camera

Pinhole cameras involve the creation of your own camera. You can use many different boxes or tins to create a camera. The process that I completed includes;

  • Find an almost light-tight cardboard box and cut a hole to fit a side of a tin can. Tape up any light cracks inside the box, including corners and joints
  • Cut a square out of a tin can big enough to cover the hole you have just made in the cardboard box
  • On this square of can, use a pin head to hammer in a hole – the smaller the hole, the longer the exposure time BUT do not make a very large hole as this will be more difficult to work with. Sand down the hole so there is no lip that the light can ‘catch’ on
  • Stick the can to the inside of the cardboard box using electrical tape. Make sure not to cover up the hole
  • Make a shutter/a flap for the outside of the box, so that you can control the light into the box. Test this so you know you can remove it and put it back on safely
  • When in the dark room, place your photographic paper, which is sensitive to light, at the back of the box making sure that the emulsion side is facing the hole. Seal the box using electrical tape. If you are unsure if your box is completely light tight, add an aluminium foil lid which will keep it light tight
  • Put into position outside, facing something that has sunlight hitting it, or in a desired position if cloudy. You will have to do several tests to determine your exposure time. For my box, it was 5 minutes. The faster the exposure time, the more likely you are to get camera blur from people, items or the camera moving. There is a high level of maths that can get involved however, most of the time it is trial and error
  • Once you have captured your image, go back to the darkroom and develop the image in the appropriate chemical baths. As your negative image comes out, you can determine whether you need a longer or shorter exposure time

Kristan Horton

Kristan Horton uses a more experimental approach to his photography, with a heavy ‘need to speculate how photography affects knowledge’ (Frieze). Horton is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in sculpture, drawing, photography and video, while suing layered processes in both material and virtual. His primary source of his investigations are that of everyday objects, often superimposing several images together, in order that they were taken, to create a dynamic and multilayered ‘composite of perspectives within a single frame’.
There is sometimes a nonsense dialogue that happens in his works, keeping him in dialogue with the Modernist past, as well as reminiscent of Futurist, Cubist and Dada works. “However, it is Horton’s insertion of sheets of malleable plastic into the compositional mix that allows for an assertively contemporary and serious investigation of perceptual phenomena associated with image transparency, opacity, reflection and degradation – and with the descriptive limits of digital technology” (Frieze). Horton’s work offer surprising hints of the unexplained while dutifully testing the representational limits of technology.
When viewing two of his works at the National Gallery, Ottawa, each time you would walk by the prints, there would be something new to see and to study. Due to the expanse of layers within the piece, I don’t believe that I have seen each one, and they mould and disperse into one another.

Music And Movement

While in University of Ottawa, I was able to take a 1 credit workshop on music and movement and the Dalcroze model. This workshop was not what I expected, as we used our bodies, and other equipment, to become more in tune with not only the music that others and ourselves produced, but also with our instincts. Much of the time we used improvisation, and building upon previous exercises, including quick reaction and rhythm exercises.
Within the two day workshop, one of my favourite parts was an improvisation with chairs, in which we chose a partner to improvise with, along with the chairs. There was an exploration of the chairs, developing your relationship with them. Within this exercise, we were able to move with, against, or in contrast with the music. This showed me that there was a deeper relationship between body, movement and sound than I originally anticipated.
I also found the singing exercises very useful, as we moved our bodies on instinct with the tune of the singing and accompanying piano. The movement and singing allowed a more intimate interaction with the melody, bringing me a further understanding of how movement, melody and instinct can play an important part within works. I found that I was able to push some of my limits of where I was comfortable within the workshop, allowing me to pursue more of the knowledge that was available.
I would find the application of what I have learnt in the two day workshop to my own artwork interesting, especially if I continue to work with digital mediums and performance. The movement and accompanying music can completely alter the ambience of the piece produced. I would enjoy the exploration of different movement, and different sounds to produce my artwork.
Below is some of the piano music that we used within the workshops:

Relief Mould

  • Collect the items that you want to use in the relief mould. These items can be any shape, size and consistency. The hard objects will make very direct moulds, whereas soft objects may appear unclear.
  • Roll out a large amount of clay into a desired shape. Depending on the thickness of the clay, will depend on how far in you wish to push your objects – the more projecting you want the design, the thicker the clay will need to be.
  • Once the clay is the desired size and thickness, start pressing your objects in. A pattern may not be necessary here.
  • Use a rolling pin and your hands to firmly press the objects in.
  • When they are a desired depth, take all the items out. You may need tweezers for this, especially when getting smaller items out that may be stuck in the clay.
  • After all objects are out of the clay, build a tall, thick clay or cardboard wall around the outside, ensuring it is at least double height and liquid-tight.
  • Mix some thin plaster and pour into the mould, ensuring to cover the clay with a layer to get all the detail of the relief. Keep pouring plaster until the cast is at least 3/4″ thick. This will allow for a sturdy piece that will not break too easily.
  • While the plaster is setting, make a hook out of wire, twisting it for extra strength. Add the hook when the plaster is able to hold it, without letting it sink. This is optional
  • Once the plaster is set, take off the clay. It can now be cleaned with water and a paintbrush to remove the clay.
  • And you have a relief cast.

Making the items flat in the mould was considerably difficult, especially while using a rolling pin. For the mould to be very prominent, you had to push each item in further, which was sometimes difficult with the delicate leaves. I also had problems getting some of the ghosts out. Although these problems occurred, I still found the project enjoyable, and I was pleased with the final result.

The final cleaned relief mould of ghosts, fall leaves and flowers.

Richard Learoyd

Richard Learoyd uses a home-built camera obscura to create a large scale image of humanity, and to be an experience, rather than just an image. With his photography, you are able to see eyelashes and dust on the surface of fabrics from the high level of sensitivity of the camera that he uses. The result is completely grain-less. Learoyd takes his ideas and inspiration from visual culture and images, to continue his photographic lineage that he has created.

“A photograph should have the ability to communicate a sense of humanity, especially if it’s a picture of a person, and it should have an internal narrative that allows you to walk away with a question or two in your mind.” – SFMOMA

Each image that Learoyd creates aims to encompass the sense of humanity that portraiture can often forget about.

Pascal Grandmaison

Pascal Grandmaison uses film, video, photography and sculpture to explore and investigate the relation of the part to the whole, and ‘how the experience of viewing a work is mediated by the act of capturing an image’. Grandmaison often works in portraiture to reflect this, and displays the interest to the inner self.

“My work I about the power of thought that one can have over things, others people, on the world around us and our own internal universe.” – National Gallery of Canada

At the National Gallery, Ottawa, a portrait from the “Glass” series is displayed on its own, showing the viewer a snippet of the large scale portraiture and the impact of Grandmaisons’ work. The series has a total of nine portraits in which a ‘young person holds a glass panel that extends over the entire surface of the image, except for the right side’ (Grandmaison), where the subject’s hand holds the edge of the glass. Within these portraits, there is a focus on the image making, reflection and flat surface. There is a repetition in all; they all hold the glass with the same hand, arm at a right angle, head down and eyes lowered to the floor, with body aligned with the camera’s plane. There is a small reflection of the camera in each, making the photographer and subject united and separated through the glass.

Plaster and Alginate

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Sketchbook spread outlining process and ideas of alginate and plaster casting

I have previously worked with alginate before in Plaster Workshop, as well as throughout the plaster project. Because I previously completed a design of my hands, I wanted to adventure into a cast of my foot, or toes. The containers that we had use of only fit my toes, but I felt that this was sufficient for the cast that I wanted to get out of it. The alginate is a one time mould.

  • Get items ready for casting – tubs, water, item for casting
  • Add water to alginate. Different consistencies have different purposes;
  • THICK ALGINATE: this can be used on areas such as the face, ears, and vertical surfaces. Apply to the area with a paintbrush, getting into all the nooks and crannies for detail. Keep still, and once dry take off the cast. Make a mother mould using plaster bandages dipped in water. This keeps the alginate in shape.
  • THIN ALGINATE: place the object in the desired position in the tub and pour the alginate around the item. Tap the container to get rid of air bubbles in the alginate and allowing it to settle around the object. Keep still, and once dry take the item out of the cast.
  • Mix up plaster – pour a thinner mixture first to capture details. Keep adding until the mould is full, tapping the mould to get rid of air bubbles.
  • Once the plaster is dry, take off the alginate to reveal the plaster cast.

I was very pleased and surprised with the level of detail that the alginate and plaster were able to capture, as it even grabbed the dirt that was sat on the bottom of my foot. There is a certain delicacy with only doing the toes, and showing the sole of the foot which is often covered and protected. The added base keeps it routed the wrong way up.

Arnaud Maggs

Arnaud Maggs uses a multiple-grid technique with serial photographs of faces and miscellany to display his fascination of systems, classifications and historical documents. Through this technique, Maggs was able to reveal the distance between symbols and their representation.

“…what I really wanted to do was to use the camera as a documentary tool – Just as Atget had. And I realized you didn’t have to resort to any visual tricks to do it. I wasn’t after a style. I just wanted to act as a recorder. I realized that all I wanted to do with the human head was simply to let people see it.” – National Gallery of Canada

His photographs give the viewer the opportunity to look at our surroundings to see ‘the unusual beauty in the commonplace’. This is everything from the markings on old books, to the shape of people’s heads. Maggs was not afraid to display his production throughout the exhibition process, recording the people, places and lived experiences that not only he found significant, but also those that have marked him. They can be seen as portraits of the artist.
When viewing his work at a recent exhibition in the National Gallery, Ottawa, the initial viewing of the pieces looks familiar, as it is something that many artists have adopted. Faces, from the centre of the display, looking in a more outward direction as you get to the edge of the display. When viewing this work closer, however, you start to see the imperfections of each photograph, where it may not have been developed fully and blurriness of movement. This makes the work seem more human, and brings you a closer connection with not only the piece, but also the development of it. I wish to allow the viewer to have this connection with the development of the piece when displaying my own work.

Ken Nicol

Ken Nicol often uses foul language in his work, writing in grids and pattern to overlay text in different orientations. His work also includes drawing, making, collecting and counting, and explains that “if you are offended by foul language, you’re probably not gong to like a lot of my work and you’re probably not going to like me…” (Toronto Guardian).
There is also a sense of the observation of an international and intellectual obsession of collecting within his work. No matter the medium that Nicol works in, it is always meticulously structured, creating a humble and mesmerising piece of work which makes you question whether he made it himself. His penmanship displays this the most, with repetitive words written in exactly the same way, thousands of times. Through the works, there is also a respect for the analogue and old-school practises through a juxtaposition of such practises and the smart, humorous and elegant practice that Nicol also uses.

“A practice that is deeply rooted in conceptualism. Nicol’s obsession with repetition results in work that demands our contemplation and attention forcing us to take renewed notice in the order and structure that surrounds us.” – Gallery Stratford

I was surprised when viewing Nicol’s work at the National Gallery, Ottawa, as it took someone else to point out the repetition of ‘fuck’ throughout the piece, that reminded me heavily of Josef Albers. I was in awe of the precision, care and detail that was evident throughout the pieces, and wanted to take this to continue into my own work.