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Tip & Trick Thursday: Double Exposin’ & Negative Sammiches

I recently came across this really awesome photo submission to a photo blog I love called I Still Shoot Film and I felt I had to share because of all the photos shes posted, this one is my favorite and it was a total accident.

Joshuapb wrote of the photo: “Hello there! so i accidentally(who knows how) put a roll of film through my camera twice, but 5months apart and had put other rolls through in between putting it through again. and this is what came out. hope you like :)”

Canon EF using a 50mm 1.8. on Fuji 100iso colour negative film (@istillshootfilm)

Now, being realistic, the chances of double exposing your film like this (by rolling it through twice, but seperately) and ending up with a great photo are slim, but with certain cameras it is possible to achieve this effect. Certain cameras (holgas, some older SLRs, and TLRs) allow you to take another photo on the same frame without being forced to advance your roll of film, allowing you to double expose your film. However, there is a less risky way to get the same effect which is what I wanted to touch on today. Enter: the negative sandwich.

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Tip & Trick Thursday: Cropping

One of the best things I learned early on about editing my photos is cropping.  Ideally, one would like to shoot the perfect shot every frame without any distractions around the border, or have the right idea about a shot…but sometimes, a lot of times things just end up differently on film or on your computer than you pictured in your head while you were shooting.  Enter: cropping.

Cropping is great for things like…

  • you shot a landscape (frame goes horizontally), and maybe decided while editing you wanted it portrait style (vertically)
  • accentuating features by trimming unnecessary information in the background, foreground, etc.
  • emphasizing a subject by cropping in closer so they take up most of the frame
  • creating visual interest by cropping the frame to fit the subject (like a square crop around a square object, etc.)
  • cropping out any objects creating visual tension (when somethings too close to the edge or to the subject that distracts your eye), or cropping out distracting objects

Below are some examples of my own work where cropping was necessary to end up with the best end result.


the original - pretty lights, right? (Nikon D40)
cropped, the skyline is accentuated

When I first uploaded the pictures from this night onto my computer I didn’t really like it because even though I had to scour the hills of Berkeley to get a good enough spot to shoot from in the freezing cold at night on a VERY steep hill in front of someones driveway on a very busy street corner, the tree was still really distracting in the original photo and I was pretty bummed about not getting all of the harbor area I was hoping to get.  With gift of cropping I’m still able to salvage the beautiful San Francisco skyline.  Problem solved.


the original, shot portrait style (35mm color film)
cropped, squareish landscape style, and now no more distracting huge tree!

Even though I utilized some selective focusing in the original, the huge cypress tree in the background was really distracting, it made the entire shot feel a little unfocused and draws your eye upward when my original intention was to draw your eye downward to the headstones.

Try cropping some of your photos you may have previously disregarded as boring or trash and see what you come up with.  In fact, link me to them!!  I’d love to see your original vs cropped photos! :)

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Whoa, already? Tip & Trick Thursday

I apologize for letting the last couple days slip right through my hands, its been a work-filled week with friend hang outs in every possible moment and definitely no real work on my photography going on. Anyway!

Who here likes those cool pictures where the lights are blurred into straight lines that seem to wizz around the frame, or the ones taken in the dead of night and pick up everything?  I know I do.  Those infinitely awesome photos are called “long exposures” and these are some of my favorite kind of photos.

NB i5, one of my favorites, ever

When I was still a first-timer I was still heavily reliant on the guides provided for me- metering and relying on suggested shutter speeds from my camera.  I can still remember my first night time long exposure, it was of an intersection near my neighborhood.  There was this really pretty old red barn and some horses right next to these stop lights which I found to be kind of ironic- my hometown is made of irony- combining hicksville with modern suburbia.  Anyway my idea was to catch cars wizzing through the intersection and the barn behind it and voila, beautiful photo, right?  The way I wanted to frame everything in my head forced me to rough it and set up my tripod and camera in the middle of the street- thank god for the planted lane dividers or I really would have been in the middle of the street at night.  Anyway since I was still new to this I made the typical rookie mistake, first off, it was pitch black out and late and there were like all of 3 cars out that night, and I ended up only exposing for 15 seconds or so, maybe a little more.  It definitely wasn’t significant enough to catch anything more than a short blur of headlights and none of the backround.  You live and learn, right?

Since then I’ve learned many new things regarding long exposures and I feel like I’ve gotten pretty decent at them, and just writing about them makes me wish I did them more.  I went through this phase where I did a lot of night time photography and that’s where I really learned what to do and how to do it- which I’ll be sharing with you of course.  Now that I know how to do it, its actually quite simple and I can’t believe I messed it up so easily before.  So here are some things I have learned by way of my errors and feel you need to know too… Continue reading Whoa, already? Tip & Trick Thursday

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Tip & Trick Thursday

I want to drop a little knowledge bomb on you every once in a while so I’m going to be sharing some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way that generally make my life and photographs better, I sincerely hope that they are of use to you.

On metering (assessing the light and selecting the correct exposures):  For those of you less fortunate souls (like myself) who can’t afford to buy all kinds of photo goodies like a hand held light meter and instead use the one built into their SLR camera, here are a couple techniques/tricks I use to ensure the best possible exposure.

  • Many people don’t know/realize that instead of using a grey card (which is totally inconvenient by the way), you can use the palm of your hand.  The light reflected from your hand is nearly equivalent to the 18% grey cards used by many photographers, and comes in way more handy (pun intended) when you’re out and about without your bag of gear.
  • A really good way to become comfortable selecting proper shutter speeds for the best exposure with “difficult” shots (anything with interesting lighting basically) is to always bracket shots that are giving you weird meter readings.  Say a night time shot, or a weird shadowy shot that would normally be washed out due to your light meter wanting to make everything neutral- you can bracket up or down, which means exposing for a stop more or stop less than what is suggested. It’s a really good way to get a feel for your camera and how to correctly identify exposures- in the long run the more you train your eye the less you need to rely on light meters. I like the least amount of crap with me when I go shooting- some photographers are the opposite and want every gadget available, it’s all a matter of preference.

Lighting & composition (outdoors): it’s really easy to fall into the pattern of photographing something already “perfectly” lit (even & head on) and then just upping the contrast in the darkroom (real or digital) so here are a couple reminders about lighting.

  • Take a minute to look at your subject and note the direction of light, if it is head on, change your angle by at least 90 degrees, shadows create a much more interesting photo than one that has only middle tones.
  • If you want the good shadows and not the bad and you’re getting funky shadows on someone’s huge honker bust out that ghetto reflector card (I’m all about budget photography)- grab anything with a white surface (scratch paper works) and use it as an on the spot reflector to bounce some of the light back to fill in those shadowy areas on the face.  (this is probably best with b&w film)
  • Play with your lighting options, look at every angle through your viewfinder and don’t be afraid to get low or high or even sideways, shoot. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your lighting options either, I once shot portraits out in a field in the middle of the night using only the light from my cars headlights on bright- I actually got some pretty interesting shots that night.

I know I’m not a pro, but I feel like these tips are good things to know for anyone interesting in taking photos.  I really do hope they help you all because they sure have helped me.

Oh and those pictures I was talking about…these would be with the assistance of a very beat up 96 camry and my headlights on high…(disclaimer, they are digital- le gasp!)

PS. Are all 2 of my readers sick of my alliterations yet? Haha.