Back to the darkroom (possibly not safe for work)

I was hoping that I might wrap A5 up yesterday, but it wasn’t to be. I’ve switched to working with two layers of garment rather than one resulting in less simple exposures, but equally giving results with more depth. I was keen to explore some ideas generated by feedback from the OCA South West group.

Working without the glass wasn’t successful – too much definition was lost, and also the frame that the edges of the glass provided wasn’t there, and somehow that frame adds to the image for me.  The two layers of fabric added more depth though and I was keen to try things out. I had a mixture of garments, some from home and some from ebay.

Some garments were harder to work with than others. The diaphanous net pants almost disappeared on a standard exposure and required a mix of narrower aperture and darker magenta filter settings to actually show up on the photogram. Gussets are inevitably thicker than the rest of the garment, as are bra straps. Although I had trimmed out the linings from these in my first pass at work, I decided that I was uncomfortable with removing them and decided just to remove the opaque foam from bra cups rather than any of the fabric that was skinside. A very frilled pair of pants was too opaque, though I will try again with a longer exposure as there was detail starting to emerge on a longer exposure and this one might work as a contact photogram (see below).

The work remaining for me:

  • remake the photograms that have unexposed white strips at the edges. To do this I need to make card templates to allow more accurate positioning of the glass on the paper (as I won’t be using the marks on the enlarger frames.
  • remake the image that has a mark from the glass
  • remake the image that needs to be higher on the paper
  • make photograms with the garments that I didn’t get to on Tuesday. I am still waiting for one ebay purchase to arrive but that is so late now that I don’t actually expect it to arrive.

I would like to try making contact photograms from these too, which should result in a black on white image rather than white on black. The dark room owner had tried this process on one of his images and it looked very striking. So I will need another day at the darkroom.

I am wondering again about presentation. I love the images at life size, so many people are surprised by the size of a relatively small female bottom in two dimensions. I am also wondering about scanning them and taking them smaller, to present in a small handmade book with a tactile cover and a ribbon tie. Or perhaps keeping the size the same and presenting in a black portfolio.

Here are phone images of the photograms that I made. I will also add in some of the test photograms once I’ve photographed them.



10 thoughts on “Back to the darkroom (possibly not safe for work)

  1. Catherine September 12, 2018 / 5:04 pm

    My first thought was that here they look so flimsy for protecting and supporting delicate parts – so much scope there for metaphors.

    • Kate September 12, 2018 / 7:37 pm

      I am enjoying the ethereal quality of these. There is some more structural underwear in my bag of ebay wonder, but on the whole it’s too dense a fabric to give a satisfying photogram.

  2. Julia Salisbury September 12, 2018 / 5:59 pm

    Wonderful stuff. The second one looks oddly similar to schoolbook drawings of the female reproductive system.

    • Kate September 12, 2018 / 7:36 pm

      Thank you Julia, you’re not the first person to say that!

  3. sarahdandrews September 12, 2018 / 7:24 pm

    Super Kate. Fbascinating how this work is developing. I agree with Catherine that the room for metaphor is inviting. I also wonder about the role and function of this type of lacy garment. Not simply protection I would suggest.

    • Kate September 12, 2018 / 7:39 pm

      Thank you Sarah 🙂 It is making me wonder too about the different roles of different underwear. Certainly that last garment was probably not designed with protection in mind.

  4. johnwreford September 13, 2018 / 7:44 am

    These are brilliant, I could never really come up with an original subject for photograms. Maybe I will try my boxers.
    Have you considered Lumen printing?

    • Kate September 13, 2018 / 8:01 am

      hi John, thank you, and all the best if you do try boxers 🙂 Lumen printing was suggested to me last weekend and I’m going to give it a try, back in the darkroom tomorrow so sometime after that. best wishes, Kate

  5. Emma September 16, 2018 / 5:12 am

    Love these! Presentation wise there’s nothing to stop you doing both. I’m beginning to realise that it’s worth having a couple of different versions of a project for different purposes. They remind me of x-rays too, that feeling of being ‘appraised’ (by both sexes) when you enter a room.

    • Kate September 16, 2018 / 9:27 pm

      Thanks Emma, plenty to think about there, especially the idea of being “appraised”. I am also thinking about making a Viewmaster disc of some of the images, although as Holly pointed out that could be slightly voyeuristic. I think I have to try it anyway.

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