Monday, 12 April 2010

When Photography Goes Bad

Throughout my career in the photographic industry I have found a particular satisfaction in solving problems. Sometimes the problems are mine and sometimes they have been my customer's but looking at the photographic evidence and trying to figure out what went wrong has been a recurrent past-time that I thoroughly enjoy.

I went out the other day to take some pictures with my Holga 120 Wide Pinhole in Milton Keynes, I had hoped to capture some interesting views of the Snowzone, a building that dominates the skyline in MK. I did not quite get what I wanted. The snowzone is really too long and low and I just couldn't frame it right in the format. I did get a couple of pictures of the Station though that I really liked, these will be on the gallery of shortly. What I got of the Snowzone though was this picture. Something had gone wrong. Time to get out my 'Deer Stalker' hat and my 'Calabash' pipe', set aside the opium and the violin and see if I could find a logical explanation for the problems I was confronted with.

There are numerous things going on in the image but the 5 most obvious are:
  1. Vertical banding of slightly different exposure.
  2. A corner of a completely different picture.
  3. A white crescent.
  4. Completely out of focus areas (with pin hole this should be impossible...)
  5. Appalling scratching of the film.

Actually I know what happened but even knowing, I don't understand quite how all of these things were captured on film. I had my first ever dodgy roll of 120 film. When I was processing it I found that the film was folded and it had torn while I was winding on after the first frame. I think that there was a loop of film forward of the focal plane and I captured this exposure on that loop.

(1. I don't know how this happened... 2. This was where the torn piece of film would have been and I guess that it's from the previous exposure. 3. this kind of crescent is caused when the film gets kinked, in this case before it was processed. 4. This is what I want to find out about, it should not be this out of focus. 5. the extra thicknes due to the folded film caused the additional scratching.)

In the end though what I am most interested in is wether it is possible to recreate the rather dreamy quality of the in and out of focus areas which I had thought impossible with pin hole photography. I will have to experiment some more to see if I can get it again or wether I will have to wait for my next dodgy roll of 120 - how long might that take?