What happened?

Back in 2006, I built some pinhole cameras out of coffee cans and shot some photographs with them directly to photography paper. Concurrently to that, built a foam core cap for the 50mm lens on my K1000 and shot a couple of rolls of film. I shared those not too long ago, but the paper negatives stayed in an envelope, tucked into the front flap of my negative storage binder until very recently…

I’m still playing with the negatives, but I wanted to share this one straight away and wonder some about it…


I’m not sure what happened here… two things, really: one at the time of developing (I think), and another at the time of scanning…

At the time of development, or shortly thereafter, I think maybe I didn’t fix or wash it enough. Here’s a version as it was scanned (the final version, above, had the curve flipped to convert it to a positive image, in hopes of pulling some sort of image out of it):

I’ve flipped both versions this way and that, back and forth, looking for something recognizable, and the only thing I’ve thought of is maybe I shot one of Marshall’s pots up close or something. (There was a guy named Marshall a couple of years ahead of me who threw these tall, gorgeous pots, let them dry to leather hard (or harder), picked them up, climbed up on a table, and then dropped them. Once suitably destroyed as functional vessels, he would glaze and fire them. When I was a student at the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2003-2006, there were (and still are) a half dozen or so of these scattered around the Art Department.)

The black bits in the blue one are probably my emulsion-stained fingers swishing the paper around in the fixer… If the reticulations and striations and all are Marshall’s glaze, then that answers it, but then what’s the square in the middle? These prints were in a portfolio with some copper plates for several years… maybe the photo came into contact with one of them? Some of the striations appear to change around the edges of that square, but that’s just unfounded speculation, and I really have no idea what happened, or what this picture depicted.

Allahu Alim.

Then, there’s the color. Believe it or not, the photograph itself looks nothing like either one of these. It’s much lighter, flatter, sort-of cream colored with a slight brown stain in parts… I had a fair amount of trouble learning how to scan these. I used Image Capture to scan these, and I scanned them, two at a time as black & white tiffs originally. Lightroom could see and edit the first scan of a pair, but not the second; Capture One could see the first, but not edit it. I randomly changed some settings and got the scan here.

I switched to color scan instead of black & white, set Image Adjustment to ‘Photo,’ and I think I employed the ‘Fading Correction’ setting, on Low, and this was the result… I think it’ll be fun to play around with some of that more in the future.

Anyway, I like this picture, sort of. There’s enough going on to make me wonder, and it really doesn’t look much like any sort of photograph I’ve made. I think there’s a coffee can in the recycle bin… maybe I should convert turn it into a pinhole camera, pick up some traditional photo paper, and start experimenting some, or maybe I should pick up a pinhole plate for the 4×5 and ditto on the paper. There are some fun possibilities, and it would be more fun if I really knew what I was doing or how to get a particular result, so if you have any ideas on what happened here, please pass them on!

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