Tag Archives: alternative processes

My submission for the OCA Edge-zine, Summer 2019

Dreams of Alternative Worlds

Figs. 1-6 Mistakes and interventions (2019)

One of the unexpectedly enjoyable side effects of doing a photography degree is the opportunity for experimental play. I am fascinated by the idea of re-versioning, and how an image changes and degrades as it is rephotographed and printed in a variety of different digital and analogue ways to a point where it no longer resembles the original at all.

This particular series is based on two accidents which occurred during printing processes, both as a result of the properties of water, and all originate from the first image (1). Firstly, I mistakenly printed the image onto the back of a sheet of digital transfer film and so the inks could not take. They had nothing to stick to, and so over the course of the following weeks, the inks ran out over the film to make the second image (2). There is a fascination in examining the edges of the image to see the tiny fractal patterns and in particular I liked one section which I rephotographed to make a new image (3). The next one was a darkroom mistake, when I accidentally held the same digital film too close to a wet black and white print which I had made from it. It stuck to the print and sadly I could not remove it. Over time, the chemicals in the print have begun to crystallise and to make beautiful fractal patterns (4). I am photographing these with a macro lens and testing them on different print media and No 5 is a version of a tiny part of the crystallised image, printed onto digital film and then backed with gold leaf. The last is one where I have begun to bring back in elements of the original.

Two elements of these images are of particular interest to me. Firstly, the originals are not stable and will continue to change slowly over time as the chemical alterations continue. And secondly, one has no idea of the scale or subject of the work. Images 4 and 5 could be from Google Earth, but they are in fact photographs of tiny sections of an A5 image. The same shapes and patterns created by water are repeated at both scales and they hint at alternative worlds where the laws of physics apply differently.


Figs 1-6 Woodward, H. (2019) Mistakes and interventions. [Photographs, digital film transfers] In possession of: the author.

Anthotype experiment

Yesterday, I was driving back home from photographing the bluebells at West Wood, near Marlborough and happened to hear a segment from BBC Radio 4’s Open Spaces on making anthotype images from plant material. What particularly appealed to me about it was that the interviewee said she loved doing these because they are ephemeral (they fade over time if not fixed) in the same way that dance or music is ephemeral.

Anyway, I determined to have a go at making  an anthotype using bluebells. The instructions tell you to make a paste of crushed petals and a drop of water, with the possible addition of a bit of alcohol to keep the colour from going brown too quickly. I did so, but the colour achieved was very pale and so I added a small handful of blueberries. I then painted this lightly on to some art paper in a couple of layers and left it to dry overnight.

This morning, I spent an enormous amount of time trying to produce a digital positive of a single bluebell. I’ve had problems before with printing on transparencies, and this time, again, the ink flooded the print and then ran, making it unuseable. I wasn’t deterred and decided to sort out this issue once and for all, and spent some considerable time searching the Internet for solutions. Eventually, I came across this article by Robert Hirsch – http://masteringphoto.com/how-to-make-a-digital-negative/ which explained how to deal with it, and Huzzah! it worked. It seems that one needs to change the contrast in Photoshop Curves to make the image much lighter. Below, I have the original, my first b&w attempt (the failure) and the re-Curved one.

This last is now sitting on my study windowsill waiting for the sun to come out. I will let you know how it goes, but suspect it might take a week or two to work fully.