Friday, August 29, 2014


Years ago, long before bits and bytes painted pictures on screens not much bigger than a postage stamp, I learned to take pictures.

A photograph then was an investment, so I spent a great deal of time on setup. I'd check the light on the subject, check for stray hair, or wrinkled clothes. And then I'd spend a few seconds thinking about things like, shutter speed, f-stop, depth of field, and focus. Shooting a spontaneous picture was rare for me.

Then came developing and printing photographs in a small cramped darkroom with a dim orange-yellow light which was the only color light that wouldn't harm photo paper. 

I'm sure the smell of those toxic chemicals were the cause of the third ear I had removed from the middle of my forehead back in the late 70s. (OK, I'm kidding but I couldn't resist.)

I didn't take a lot of color pictures in those early years, mainly because I couldn't develop and print them myself because I didn't have the supplies and equipment.

When I did take color pictures, it was rare I'd take a full roll at one time so I'd make a mental note of the number of shots I took. I would then roll the film back into the small canister and write the number of shots I took on the roll. When I got ready to shoot more color pictures, I'd put the used roll into the camera, leave the lens cap on and shoot off the number of photos I'd already taken. That way, the pictures I'd already taken would be double exposed. And then I take the new pictures at the end of the roll. I know that seems like a lot of work, but color film wasn't cheap, and I was broke most of the time then so cutting corners was routine.

Once I had forgotten to make a note of the number of photos I'd taken when I loaded a roll of color film into my camera. 

Thankfully the photos I shot were for fun, because shot over about a half roll of film which resulted in about 18 photos that were unintentionally double exposed.

Most of them were throw aways, but as serendipity goes, a few of the pictures were stunning. I still have them stashed in one of my picture boxes.

The process changed with digital photography. Now you snap of a half a hundred pictures at the drop of the hat and simply delete what doesn't work.

The downside to the new way is that a lot of people take pretty good photographs, but they don't really know how they did it. Or if the light is tricky, they don't know how to compensate.

Below is a picture I shot with the double exposure app on iPhone. It took less that 10 seconds.


  1. My Dad used to develop his own pics too...he loved photography and was so proud of his 35mm camera! It still works Sister has it. Nothing like a "real" photo taken with "real" film! I enjoy photography but you're so right about not knowing the hows and whys of it. I'm a professional deleter though! Your double exposure is pretty cool. I did laugh when I thought how I would react if I went to pic a flower and saw that specimen. Now that would make an interesting bouquet! Enjoy your weekend!

    1. :)
      Yaya, if your sister only uses that camera infrequently, you might suggest that she take the light meter battery out. If it goes dead, it will break down over time and cause internal corrosion that would be hard to fix.The voice of experience here.

  2. Very interesting picture indeed! I'm taking a photography class online, but sometimes I wonder if it helps or hurts my process.

    1. I think a basic knowledge of how shutter speed and apature work together to expose a picture.
      What would help would be to shoot on manual so that you have to look at the light on a subject and figure out what combination of shutter speed and apature render the best results. When you get to the point that you can shoot at the right settings without depending on the auto function, you be a better photographer.

  3. I usually just use the automatic setting on my DSLR and I get some decent pictures. I'm thinking about taking a class so I can get more out of my camera. I think I need another zoom lens too. I will be taking cheerleading pictures soon. Football season at my daughter's school starts next week.

  4. I loved my darkroom and all its smells. I still have the first color picture I developed hanging on my wall, and some favorite black and whites. I abandoned photography for years when I sold that house and darkroom, and eased back in twenty years later with a small point and shoot. Fascinating how much it could do. But my mind has always seen pictures in an aperture priority fashion, and I moved along to more controls. I believe it will see me to the end.

  5. I must admit, I would have never thought of using the color film as you did. Clicking off the # of shots with lens cap on. (sneaky that.) I thought I wanted to be a camera bug but I wasn't studious enough to figure out the f-stops and exposure times and what ever else it involved, but I sure learned to appreciate the guys who did. i didn't even know there was a double exposure app?? Good read, making me appreciate more the instant pictures rather than send the roll off for developing and printing...

  6. I wish I could take a good photo, and also wish I looked good in photos. My pop used to develop his own pictures as well

  7. We love the convenience of the digital age, as we are collapsing beneath the boxes of photo prints. The only problem is that there will be no hard evidence that we were ever here--my grandmother's photos of her past pique my interest.

  8. I remember those expensive mistakes. At first we had to pay for every photos good or bad, later on we only paid for the good pictures. We also had to send the rolls of film away to be developed and received the prints in the mail. Then we got a Polaroid camera with instant finished photos. We still have our old 35mm camera and lots of slides. I like the action feature on my Canon.

    I love the digital camera and wish I had some more spare time to learn to take great photos.

    Pretty neat trick with the double exposure. I'll have to go in my garden and check my flowers more closely to see if I can find a specimen like that. ha,ha.

    Have a great Labor Day weekend.


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