Film on Fire!

My husband would SO disapprove.

Let me explain. He is a firefighter. We faithfully change our smoke detector’s batteries twice a year and don’t even have candles in our house because of the fire danger. In fact, we were at a friend’s house one year for a Christmas party and she had LOTS of lit candles around her apartment. He tried to ‘covertly’ blow every last one of them out. Needless to say, she caught him and the story lives as an illustration of how safety-conscious my husband is.

How the heck does this relate to film? Having recently acquired the coveted SX-70 camera and TZ-Artistic film from the Impossible Project folks, I decided it was time to dive into manipulation head-on. Where else does one go for instruction? Why, You Tube and Flickr, of course.

I found this handy video that explained the basics of film manipulation but was still not feeling confident enough to try it myself. Needing more inspiration, I searched Flickr for SX-70 film manipulation groups. The artwork I found was amazing. What one can do with an instant photograph is amazing. There were photos that looked as if they were watercolor paintings and impressionistic masterpieces, photos that looked as if they’d been unearthed from a time capsule from 1970 and some that were whimsical with lines, squiggles and shapes added to otherwise blank areas in the photograph. The possibilities were endless and I was inspired. Some photographers gave detailed explanations of their manipulation processes, which was very helpful. A few described heating the photo to increase the time the emulsion could be manipulated. Sounds fun, right?

My first photo is my absolute favorite. A simple shot of some flowers on a blue table taken from above. I used a Q-tip to push the emulsion around a bit but wasn’t quite satisfied. I took the grill lighter and held it beneath the picture and found that I got these neat bubbles which created interesting snowflake-shaped patterns. I could also squish the bubbles for a more intense look. This got me thinking–what would it look like if I peeled off the white border? I’d seen some photos with the border removed and they were really gorgeous. After deconstructing my photo, this was the finished project

I love the distressed and aged look I got with this one!!

My second attempt was an indoor shot of a palmy plant. I wanted to try to mimic some paintings that I’d seen where a grid is very lightly painted over the entire picture, rendering a really interesting texture to the piece but at the same time, not distracting from the subject. I messed around with this one and heated it up a little and this was the result

Not quite as spectacular as the first one but still kind of interesting.

This shot seemed a bit dark so for the last picture I went outside in the late afternoon light and snapped a shot of a red hummingbird feeder. While it was still developing I traced the outline of the trees with a pencil and traced around some of the details of the feeder. All that was lost when I held the flame beneath it and it bubbled out. No worries, it was still pretty interesting looking.

I much prefer the first picture to the other two and I’ll be mimicking those results pretty closely.  What I love most about the whole process is the uncertainty of the results. Since I’m so new to the technique my results are even more uneven, making for some crazy results. Look for more SX-70 manipulation really soon and if you have any helpful hints, please leave them here in the comments section.

Oh, and I didn’t set myself or any parts of my house aflame. Thank goodness!

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About ipdegirl

analogue girl in a digital world View all posts by ipdegirl

2 responses to “Film on Fire!

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