352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Second “Double Exposure” Experiment

Very similar to the “Blurring” experiment you may have seen in the previous blog post (entitled “352MC Professional photographic Practice – Second “Blurring” Experiment”), on Thursday 22nd January 2015, I decided to take out the Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7, and Canon 5D Mk II for a test shoot to allow me to decide which of the cameras I was going to use for my project. Although I underwent this test-shoot to primarily gain an understanding as to which equipment held more practicality and photographic quality for my project, I also decided to experiment with a couple of techniques (including deliberate blurring ad double exposures) due to the research I had undergone regarding Alfred Stieglitz’s “Camera Work” and Pictorialism (please see my blog posts entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Academic Research” and “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research”). Within the reflection of this particular test shoot, in regards to the techniques that I had briefly experimented with, I also said that, although I agreed with what David Moore suggested (in the group tutorial – please see the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 3 (Practitioner Talk and a Group Tutorial with David Moore, and a Self-Learning Workshop)”) regarding photographing the landscapes in a more documentarian style (rather than a creative style as, although I am looking into the past through the use of the landscape, I am still documenting them in the present), I may plan on revisiting these techniques further along in the development of my FMP (as the project was very much in its early stages at the time).

On 11th March 2015, after having a one-to-one tutorial with Anthony Luvera (where he discussed my very static use of the “middle-of-the-road” composition I was using to document the landscapes in the Lake District – please see more information in my blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 8 (Practitioner Talk by John Blakemore and a One-to-One Tutorial with Anthony Luvera)”), I therefore decided to undergo another experiment with four different, “creative”, photographic techniques, including the “Double Exposure” technique, in order to see if, through the development of my project, it had suddenly become an appropriate technique to use for my FMP (through it’s symbolic referencing to the merging of an individuals numerous memories), and that I could therefore use it on the fourth trip up to the Lake District the following day (please see the blog post “352MC Fourth Trip to the Lake District (Thursday 12th March – Saturday 14th March 2015)”). (Please note, the write-ups for the other three experiments have been included in separate blog posts)

Below you can find the notes about the “Double Exposure” experiment (including the equipment and methodology that I used), followed by the photographs from the shoot and a reflection regarding the use of the technique within my FMP:

 


 

Equipment:

  • Canon 5D Mk II
  • Canon EF 24-105mm lens
  • Tripod
  • Sekonic L-308S Flashmate (light meter)

As suggested in the previous “Blurring” experiment blog post, for this particular experiment, although I had already decided on the use of both the Canon 5D Mk II and the Mamiya 7 for the creation of my FMP images (the Canon 5D to gain an understanding surrounding the correct settings, and the Mamiya 7 for the “official” shots), I decided that I wanted to experiment with this technique solely on a digital camera so that I didn’t waste precious film throughout this self-funded project, as well as the fact that I was still slightly unsure as to how to successfully achieve a double exposure on the medium format camera. However, I knew that if after the experiment I did actually want to use the technique for my FMP, I would obviously, conduct some brief research into how to create double exposures on the Mamiya 7 equipment before, riskily, using the fourth trip up to the Lake District as my experimentation for the technique on the medium format camera.

 


 

Methodology:

The methodology of this experiment was relatively simple and only really required me considering a couple of different variables throughout the use of this particular “Blurring” technique. However, below I have included bullet-pointed information regarding some of the factors I considered:

  • As you will see from the images that have been included below, similar to the “blurring” experiment, throughout this investigation, I only decided to use this technique in 5 different locations
    • This is because, although I originally set out to achieve 10 images from different locations, as I was experimenting with three other techniques throughout this particular shoot, I soon found that it was a lot more time consuming than I had anticipated, meaning that the natural light was beginning to fade in this location (as you will see from Todd Hido’s “Roaming” experiment, I wanted to complete that particular shoot in the late afternoon/evening with relatively cloudy skies, meaning that the other shoots were clearly affected)
    • However, although I wasn’t able to achieve the 10 shots I initially wanted, I soon found that, as this was simply an experiment, practicing with 5 shots still allowed me to gain an understanding surrounding the techniques and the problems that came with it
  • Also, once again, similar to the “blurring” experiment, although I had obviously decided on the use of a “middle-of-the-road” aesthetic within my FMP images (please see the blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Project Development (Using a “Middle-of-the-Road” Technique to Document the Pathways)”), as you will see from the images below, I decided to experiment with different landscape shots including close-ups of landscape features (such as trees), and more expansive landscapes
    • This is because, although I hadn’t visited this particular technique within my vast amount of research and therefore mainly gained inspiration for the experimentation of this technique through Alfred Stieglitz’s “Camera Work”, I noticed that the landscape images included within the Pictorialist movement that he selected tended to vary in the type of landscape that they captured, and I therefore wanted to experiment with this in order to see if I could apply it to my FMP
    • Also, as suggested above, as this shoot included the experimentation of four different techniques, I therefore decided to shoot each of these techniques in the same locations, in order to save time with regards to their successful experimentation (due to the fact that, as stated previously, the light was fading throughout the photo shoot, meaning that I had less time to capture the images)
  • For this particular photographic investigation, as you will see from the photographs I have included below, in order to create my double exposures later in post-production (discussed in more detail below), I decided to use a photograph of the more expansive landscape that I was shooting, as well as a photograph depicting a more specific feature within the landscape that I personally thought was relatively interesting in terms of it’s texture
    • This is because, throughout my extensive research that I have conducted for this particular project, soon came across individuals, such as John Gossage and Paul Gaffney (to name but a few), that not only photographed the landscape they were experiencing, but also more specific features of the landscape that the personally thought were relatively interesting – within the inspiration that I gained from this very specific included aspect, I then went on to say that this allowed the viewer to gain a greater understanding surrounding the reality of the landscape, which in turn enhanced their contextualization and accessibility of the project
    • I therefore thought that this would be good aspect to experiment with and decided that the inclusion of these personally interesting, landscape features would not only aid the aesthetics of the double exposure image, but would also provide the viewer with more visual information surrounding the landscape I have documented
  • Finally, for the editing of these images that I had created during the experiment, similar to both the “blurring” experiment and the original “double exposure” experiment, I simply decided to open both of the images up in Photoshop (that I was going to use for the creation of the double-exposure) in order to crop, straighten and slightly adjust the levels of them before merging them together in order to create one image with two photographic layers (creating a double-exposure affect)
    • With regards to the manipulation of simple photographic aspects (including cropping, straightening, and the adjustments of levels), this is because I wanted to create an image that would allow me to successfully analyze the use of the double exposure technique, without distracting me in terms of incorrect technical aesthetics)
    • However, in relation to the merging of the two images to create this double exposure technique, I took time experimenting with the opacity of the “top” image in order to try and create a “double exposure” that balanced the visual information provided by both of the images (i.e. one did not overshadow the other)
      • This was incredibly difficult to do, and although in some cases one photograph may appear to be slightly more noticeable than the other, in this instance I simply decided to adjust the opacity in order to enhance the aesthetic quality of the image

 


 

Experiment Photos:

Contact Sheet:

Second “Double Exposure” Experiment Contact Sheet

 

Final Photographs:

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After-Thoughts and Reflection:

Similar to the reflection written for the “blurring” experiment in the previous blog post, after taking the time to experiment with this particular “double exposure” technique again (in order to see if it had become a more appropriate photographic style to incorporate into my FMP through the projects development), I personally feel that I want to create the more documentary style landscape images rather than the artistic creative images. This is because, although, as suggested above, this technique could be used to represent the psychological concept where an individuals imagination may merge two completely different memories together in order to create an alternative version to the reality of the event, I personally feel that this is only a background concept that I am very briefly exploring (through the inclusion of an oral interview that I have with my Dad regarding the memories that we recall in association to Grandpa and the specific places I am looking at in the Lake District), and therefore think that this isn’t a big enough concept to reference in terms of the aesthetics of my images.

Also, as previously suggested in the “blurring” experiment reflection, I also still feel that I completely agree with what David Moore suggested in the group tutorial (please see the blog post entitled: “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 3 (Practitioner Talk and a Group Tutorial with David Moore, and a Self-Learning Workshop)”): that although I am looking into the past and memories through the use of landscapes (which could be represented by the more creative techniques), I am actually using a present landscape as a gateway to the past and so should use a photographic aesthetic that represents the documentation of the now.

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