View Towers Montage
My latest roll of film from the Olympus Pen half frame camera could be considered a disaster but I prefer a wonderful accident. Such as the shot above, which is an in-camera montage of View Towers seen from Fort Street, from within a passage way that leads to Meares Street, and a shot or two within the passage without View Towers at all. Both portrait and landscape formats are involved, and a fliptych or two in landscape mode as well. Below is one of the diptychs I was shooting (with a sliver of the above image on one side as well).
I had meant to try a shot of this side of the building for some time – you will see from the link in the previous paragraph that I have stuck with the ends of this building, or closeup views. I have been a bit daunted by how much of a slab, a cliff face, this building is from the north and south, and it is hard to fit in the frame of all but the wider angle lenses, so I have never got a good shot from this side. You can see what it looks like from the north in this link, a local photography blog which I only just discovered and which is well worth a good look through.
Seeing Gary’s shot inspired me to try something from Fort Street where I used to stand for the bus most days staring at this edifice. I thought I would do it in a half-frame multitych format. However, I think the above shot is better than what I might have accomplished in that style. I think the jumbled overlays represents this large block of flats and the lives lived within quite well, and in a way that I would never have thought of. Which makes it food for thought, and a seed for experimentation. I like it that the view from across the street is embedded, and the relatively affluent existence of the lawyers offices, pricey restaurants and yoga studios stand out around the edges of this low rent and locally rather notorious accommodation.
While on the subject of windows, this morning I was reading an interesting post by one of my followers and occasional commenter on these pages Angelina Hue. Her post, Facing Windows: Voyeurism or Art, delves into the sometimes extremely fine line between voyeurism and art when photographing buildings and what people are doing as seen through the building windows. She provides some thought-provoking links on the subject and it is worthwhile spending some time browsing her listed sources. Those thoughts go well with this post, or at least with the photos I intended to take and post. One of the interesting things to do while waiting for a bus at this spot, at the end of the day, is to watch the lights come on as people arrive home from work. To see the things they do at their windows or on their balconies and how that changes when, for instance, there is a glorious sunrise to look at. From the vantage point of the bus stop it does not seem like voyeurism, but it does feel a bit nosy. Seeing this monolith come alive as people come home is interesting, and in many ways it is just a vertical part of the street scene with people going about their lives. Is it nosy or voyeuristic to stand at a bus stop and watch people walking or interacting on the sidewalk?
So, how did this image come about? Midway through the roll the Pen stopped advancing properly – just a partial advance with each cock of the shutter, unnoticed by me until the counter well exceed the expected 72 frames. I suspect this was linked to something I did when loading the film; I thought I would experiment to see if I could take double exposures – testing the mechanics of the camera to see if it was even possible. It seemed doable, but I did find it difficult to get the film advancing properly again and thought I would set that idea aside for a while. The first half of the film was fine so I must have got things properly reset, though perhaps not firmly seated because something happened and I got a lot of multiple exposures happening about 1/3 into the roll.
You might ask where I as the photographer come into making this accidental image, and claiming it as my own. And it is a good question. These are my excuses for calling it my own:
- recognising / seeing something of interest in the negatives instead of just throwing away that part of the film;
- choosing what to scan as a single image (you could say I framed the scan like looking through a camera) since this part of the negative strip has few clear separations between one image and the next – you can see this in the overlap between these two shots which is a segment of the film I have framed into both the images.
- that I was doing something a bit unusual with my camera (flipping it 180 degrees between some images) and otherwise shooting carefully framed diptychs that pay particular attention to alignments also contributed to how this ended up looking, even if not exactly as planned.
Naturally I am a bit apprehensive about running another roll of film through the camera. Fortunately I have some expired colour film I got in a thrift store for 36 cents a roll and it needs testing – it is quite fast, but I recently bought a 2 stop ND filter so I can use that film now. Besides, I am not unhappy with some of the multiple exposures I got, and you will see more of them. The top one is the best of the bunch, but others are interesting too.
Olympus Pen, Half Frame, 28mm lens, Ilford Pan-F Plus 50, ISO50, Epson V700 Scanner