The accidental picture..... / by Neil Genower

 
Original Image with no photoshop © Neil Genower

Original Image with no photoshop © Neil Genower

Retouched Image in Photoshop LAB © Neil Genower

Retouched Image in Photoshop LAB © Neil Genower

So, how did photography evolve? I guess one could say scientifically, experimentation and discovering things by making mistakes. Today photography has infinite possibilities with the advent of photoshop. We can almost do anything with a picture, unimaginable just a few years ago, but very few of this digital manipulations happen by mistake, they are all actioned consciously. This is different if we shoot with film. We can make mistakes unknowingly, we can of course manipulate the image using unusual lenses and filters and in our processing. The photograph above is the result of a mistake. I took this picture, in fact two pictures, on a trip to Los Angeles. I had access to the old Redondo Beach power station and as I had my Sinar 4x5 with me, thought it would be a perfect chance to test my rusty large format skills. Because I hadn't used 4x5 for a few years, my discipline in that format was... well, let's say sloppy. In case you're not familiar with a large format camera, check out this site here but it is essentially a lens and a simple box body with sheets of film four inches by five inches in size (or 10X8) you get to shoot one picture at a time. So, how did I make the picture above? Well, I exposed the single sheet of film at Redondo Beach, then some days later having forgotten to make sure I'd taken the film holder out, or at least identified it as an exposed sheet, exposed it again on a shot of a gun shop back in Culver City. When I got back to London and processed the film, I was annoyed with myself for making this simple mistake. However, having scanned it and looked more closely, it was actually a pretty interesting shot. Now, here is where I really needed photoshop! The original image was flat, very thin and lifeless, but the composition and the way the double exposure had fortuitously fallen, made it a good shot. Could I extract any colour and contrast from this file? I played with the curves for a while without too much success and then thought I'd try the LAB channels. An awful lot of weird bending in the A and B in curves gave me the shot I was looking for. So, from one mistake shooting film and a few experiments using photoshop, I was able to get a picture I was very happy with.