What are some basic photography rules that you follow? Is it lighting? Is it composition? The rule of thirds? symmetry? Once you’ve got your camera and subject(s) ready, then snap! You’ve got the perfect image, right? That’s the pre-visualization process.
But what if you start to tinker with your image in the darkroom? Say spraying developer onto your photographic paper during image processing? Or you layer one image on top of another?
One photographer, Jerry Uelsmann, pioneered that kind of thinking. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Uelsmann used post-visualization in his photographic process. He “champion[ed] the idea that the final image need not be tied to a single negative, and may be composed of many. During the mid-twentieth century, when photography was still being defined, Uelsmann didn’t care about the boundaries given by the Photo Secessionists or other realists at the time, he simply wished to share with the viewer, the images from his imagination and saw photomontage as the means by which to do so. [Ulesmann did] not seek to create narratives, but rather “allegorical surrealist imagery of the unfathomable.” (Wikipedia)
Our assignment in analogue was to take images shot in previous assignments and to make a new image in post-visualization form. There are several techniques we’ve learned to help us try a post-visualization technique:
We’ve tried photograms, letting light shine directly on photographic paper. This example, my first time image in the darkroom, below shows you how far I’ve come in photography. When thinking about post-visualization, adding objects as part of the negative print can help enhance the process.
2. Negative Sandwich
If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen a lot of these types of images – a silhouette of a face pressed with an image of some type of foliage.
3. Double Exposure Effect
Somewhat similar to a negative sandwich, this type of effect takes place within the body of the camera. Once you come to the end of the roll, you hit the rewind button and crank the film reel back until you reach close to the beginning of the reel, then reshoot new images over the existing roll.
4. Sabatier Effect
Sabatier effect is one of the most perplexing techniques I’ve come across. Can you imagine partially developing your print, then moving it outside for a quick second, only to have to finish developing it? It would look something like this:
There is some debate about whether to call this technique a true Sabatier or solarization technique. But for the purposes of achieving this kind of image, they both require photographic paper to be exposed in direct light.
According to an article on the Unblinking Eye, Ed Buffalo wrote, “The Sabatier Effect is generally considered to be the result of a desensitization of a portion of the photographic emulsion…. Only the seeming reversal (it is really a lack of development), which takes place somewhere in the middle values of the print, may be legitimately referred to as the Sabatier Effect. This is not a reversal one sees as it occurs, but rather a desensitization, which inhibits development, in what would normally become the middle values of the print.”
5. Spray/Brush Technique
Using developer in a spray bottle or sponge brush, you can create a very ethereal effect on your image.
6. Jerry Uelsmann
My professor calls it the Jerry Uelsmann. As we listened to an interview about the way he worked, he goes into great detail to create an image from multiple negatives. But because his process includes using several enlargers at one time, it involved a meticulous use of dodging and burning techniques to achieve his look.
The process of post-visualization has been a very different approach to what I’ve been used to in photography. I still appreciate the pre-visualization process, thinking about creating a meaning before snapping my image. However, it’s been great to push the boundaries of photography and think about how to break some rules to make some new ones.
Which effect do you prefer in the post-visualization process?
From my hometown to yours,