Obviously I first need to choose my subjects and shoot some film. If it is 35mm I will shoot a full roll, rewind the film, pull out the leader, and shoot through it again. I enjoy the element of chance and seeing what life and my subconscious is able to come up with!
However if I shoot medium format film, my camera will allow me to shoot a photo, then immediately shoot a second exposure right on top of the first. So in this instance I am able to compose the double exposure fully.
With medium format I currently shoot both exposures from the same exact spot. Same patch of earth and height, but I allow myself to swivel the camera in another direction or to change the lens for a wider or more narrow perspective. I have my reasons!
The next step is to remove the film from the camera, boil some water, and make some film soup. I typically mix together the boiling water with some acidic fruit juice, old wine, hot sauces, chili pepper, spices, kitchen cleaner, and yes I have even put a drop of blood in there once!
Insert film canisters, stir and soak for 12-24 hours!
Now that an assortment of my kitchen leftovers are trapped in a small film canister with my treasured images, I must attempt to dry the film. Which it turns out is darn near impossible. But I try. I typically drop the film into a canister of rice and silicon absorption packets, and leave it in a well-lit / sunny area for two to three weeks.
And when I take them out to spool them, to my constant amazement, the film is always still wet and sticky. But we must persevere!
Another day I’ll do a blog on how to develop film at home, but the first part of the process is to use a dark room or bag to remove the film from its canister (with a can opener) and to spool it and place it in a developing tank.
I mention this now because I do not have a dark room, so I reach my hands into a developing bag (which is fun because I kind of feel like that robot from Lost In Space or maybe a scientist reaching into a sterile environment with those science gloves? Let’s call them ‘science hands’) and the film is slimy, sticky and did I mention you can’t see anything because your hands are in a dark bag?
Because they *are* in a dark bag, FYI.
I personally don’t mind because 1.) I like the word ‘moist’ and this feels super ‘moist’ and 2.) I like anything that gives the film character so if I scratch the film or imbue it with my finger prints (you are welcome FBI CIA and Interpol) well, all the better.
Finally I develop the film in my bathtub and hang it to dry. PRO TIP: take a shower first or invest in a big house with at least two showers. This is because the film will be occupying your bathroom for 3-4 hours. And it is a finicky guest so I just leave it in there. I don’t know what it does in the bathroom and I don’t want to know.
In future blogs I will be discussing scanning, and printing, and also hidden portals to alternative dimensions.