Special Effects in Black & White Film Photography

May 16 2008 0 Comments

Coming into photography during the digital age I’ve never known a thing about shooting film. It has always been an intriguing subject to me and i’ve always wanted to try it at least once. So this is about some techniques that i use all the time and i have recently learned about in the world of film photography.

If you don’t know.. Pam works for the Pasco County Library Cooperative so information flows easily around here. not that i couldn’t just look it up on the internet but a good book every now and then will teach you a lot. so one day last month while killing time i decided to check out a book titled “John Hedgecoe’s Complete Guide to Black & White Photography” (ISBN: 1-4027-2812-3). If you are a Black and White enthusiast i would suggest reading this no matter what you shoot. Digital or film.

anyways on to the the good stuff…


Dodging and Burning in Film

I had no idea you could do this outside of the digital darkroom and i was amazed to find out it was as simple as holding a card over part of the paper during part of the exposure and it will lighten that area in the print. i guess this is referred to as shading in film and dodging but it’s the same thing. To burn in part of a photo is really simple as well.. just cover all of the paper except for the part that you want darker and expose that for part of the exposing process on the enlarger. pretty simple i thought and definitely way cool.


Multiple Printing

Known as compositing in the digital realm we use this a lot. Amazing to find out that it can be done with film as well but it could be a little tricky depending on how complex the composite you wish to create is. To do this you would take your first original and cut out a mask from some black construction paper to the shape of the area that you want to composite into the print. Expose the second original on the enlarger with the part where the first original is to be exposed covered by the mask you created. Expose this and one it has been exposed for the amount of time needed, remove the mask and using the the original mask paper with the cut-out piece, cover the paper and the areas that have already been exposed, switch negatives in the enlarger and expose your first original into the spot that was covered by the mask in the first exposure.

These are only 2 techniques used in film photography that you probably have no clue about. I for one know i did not and i was really interested in it when i found out that these digital darkroom tricks that we take for granted were originated in a real darkroom and took a little bit of creative effort to pull it off. It’s just interesting to see where some of these things evolve from.

I will post one or two more techniques that i learned later on but i thought that these were really cool and i wanted to share them with you. Enjoy!

PS: if i have gotten any part of this wrong, please inform me. I could have very well mixed up something and i would never know. so just drop a comment or use the contact us page to send us an email and let me know so i can fix it.

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