Before I ditched my smartphone, four or five years back, I used to make hand-lettering composites with it. I would ink out a design in my sketchbook, snap an iPhone pic, invert it, and mash it together with a photo in Photoshop Mix. I could eat a sandwich and pump out a little piece of art before my lunch break was over. But then I followed the creative muse into other pursuits. My friend Reuben Evans got me back into film photography. So, I took a hiatus from hand-lettering and learned to guess exposure on my dad’s old Nikonos III.
That was three years and three cameras ago.
A couple of weeks back I was reclining on the couch after a hard day of pushing around pixels and the idea hit me: maybe I could still do my hand lettering thing, but instead of using iPhone apps, I could just take double exposures on my film camera.
I paid Jeff Bezos for some black construction paper and I paid my local art store for some acrylic paint pens (don’t ask me why I didn’t get it all at the local art store). The afternoon the paper arrived I dragged my 8-year-old to the park and we both drew white ink on black paper. He drew a 3D truck. I lettered the word “CREATE” and I took a picture of it. And then I double exposed it with a picture of my son’s hand holding a rose.
Over the next few days, I tried a handful of other experiments with Kodak Portra 400 and my Nikon FM2n, and sent the roll off to The Find Lab in Orem, UT 84058*1. I waited. The email hit my inbox — a welcomed reprieve from teaching pixels to behave — and guess what? It worked. Like really well.
These are the first experiments from that roll. I’m excited to try more layers and textures. Also very open to tips and tricks you might have to make the white pop more (besides a light table).
Thanks for reading.
*1 EM: Run by past EMULSIVE interviewee, Jonathan Canlas.
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how did you calculate the exposure for the text?
I wish I could give you a scientific rational for my exposure calculation, but I just kind of winged it. While I usually overexpose Portra by a stop, for this project I tried to shoot both exposures at around box speed. Thankfully Portra 400 is so forgiving.
Good stuff! Would love to see some portraits done this way.
That’s definitely in the works!
I love it! Great idea – thank you for sharing
That’s amazingly effective, great creativity. I shall have to try this for myself!