Photography tips by Kat Hannaford.
Duran Duran must’ve known a certain something about film photography hacks when Simon Le Bon warbled Girls on Film. While I wouldn’t advocate using cherry-coloured lipstick for smearing up a lens, Vaseline does work a treat for those soft-focus shots fashion bloggers love so much.
Whatever effect you want to achieve when shooting your next acetate memories, give the following tips a twirl:
1/ Soft-focus. Smearing a dab of Vaseline on the outer edges of the lens produces a lovely vintage softness, but if your lens costs more than your camera body, apply it to a clear lens filter instead. Some film-fans swear by using clear nail polish, or even glittery polish. I’d suggest only doing a pedi ‘n mani on the cheapest of lenses though.
2/ Light leaks. Thanks to the recent popularity of Lomography cameras, light leaks have become more fetishised and sought-after than an original Ansel Adams print. Percolate a roll of film by going the long-haul (drilling holes in your camera body) or simply open the back of your camera briefly to let the light in. It’s that simple! Or, while wielding pliers, hold the negatives an inch above a candle flame and melt slightly, before scanning or printing them.
3/ Tilt-shift. Modern-day digital cameras often have a tilt-shift mode in the menu, which helps your photos resemble a toy-town with skewed proportions. Tilt-shift lenses, such as Lensbaby’s Composer with Tilt Transformer, do the hard work for you (as does Photoshop), but try building your own miniature world following the instructions here: A Beginner’s Guide To Tilt Shift Photography.
4/ Vignettes. Darkened corners draw the eye into the centre of the frame, producing a wonderful pinhole effect. There are many ways to get this look, but my favourite is turning the ISO up a notch or two faster than what you’re shooting on, if you have a camera with an adjustable ISO range. This works particularly well when aimed near the sun (but not directly at it.) Otherwise, try a slow-speed slide film, and get it cross-processed.
5/ Very different “special effects.” For extreme deviants, there are many tricks to getting crazy results. Try throwing your film roll into the washing machine after shooting it, or pull all the film from the cartridge in a pitch-black room and bend or scratch it, before winding it back in. Revolog.net sells 35mm rolls with insane tweaks built-in; try the Volvox for luminous green speckles across your shots.
Whatever your photos turn out like, try and find the beauty in each of them. While they might not be pleasing to your eye at first, others may kill to create the same effects you just encountered.