How to Make Photograms

everybody my name is Ted Forbes welcome

back once again to another episode of

the art of photography today we are

going to talk about a process known as

photographs but before we get started I

want to make two quick announcements

first of all we have redesigned the

show's website so if you go to the

public broadcast comm and you click on

the show link for the art of photography

it'll take you there and basically

there's a couple things that have been

added we've redesigned the way you

search through previous episodes that

makes that a lot easier and we've added

a couple new things there's a search

function also we're going to do

tutorials every now and then I'll add

those those might have additional video

content things like that and then also

we have added a news section there's a

blog on there so if you're interested in

any kind of photography news or what's

happening with things today you can you

can go and click on the blog link and it

will it will show you all that wonderful

stuff the second announcement that I

want to make is that I'm going to be in

London in September so if anybody is in

the UK and would like to stop by for

either a meet-up or a photo walk or

something like that stay tuned we don't

have the details worked out just yet but

I'll announce it again on the podcast

when that does get firmed ups but you're

welcome to email me or if even better

way to keep up with it is if you go to

the Flickr group which can be found at

Flickr comm slash groups slash art of

photography and you can follow along

there's already a thread in there that

we've been kind of discussing it on a

preliminary basis so far but anyway if

you're in the UK in September we'd love

to have you stop by and see you then so

anyway but today we're going to talk

about a historical process known as

making photograms

photographs photograms now what is a

photogram and how does it apply how do

you make them well let's step back a

little bit a photograph is one of the

oldest historical processes around it's

had various incarnations over the years

guys like henry fox talbot used them in

the 1840s and they had kind of had a

resurgence in the 20th century with

photographers like Man Ray who were

doing surrealist things with them but

essentially what you are able to do is

is you don't need a darkroom to do these

you just need or a darkroom proper you

just need a darkroom

you don't need an enlarger you don't

need to deal with negatives you don't

need to deal with with with a camera

even a lot of the things that you need

for traditional photographic process are

abandoned and basically a photograph is

is is it's made by applying the object

directly on to a photosensitive material

and flashing it with light and then

developing like you would a photograph

now basically this works like this this

is just a piece of photographic paper

that you can buy off the shelf and what

I did is I exposed this whole thing to a

bright light and developed normally the

paper is white on both sides and the

front side which is now black because

it's been developed but it is basically

white but it's coated with a silver

based emulsion and what happens is when

those silver particles are exposed to

light they are light-sensitive so when

they're put in the developer it turns

those to this black color but it will

leave in obviously this one was

completely exposed to light it would

leave the shadow areas white and that's

what a photograph is and I've got a

couple here that I want to show you so

you can kind of see what I'm talking

about on this this first one is a

eucalyptus plant and you can see that I

literally just laid it right down on the

paper flashed it with a bulb and

developed it any part that was in a

shadow this does make a negative

anything that was a shadow is stays

white which is the color of the paper

anything that was exposed to light ends

up turning black as you can see I've got

a couple of these you can also do it

with kind of some interesting things

this is a composition made with grass

blades that we're just basically set

directly on the paper and the exposure

was made I took it off cleaned it off

and stuck at the developer and this is

the print you get in the end and then

finally I'll show you this one this one

is a this is a fork but it's awfully

distorted this is a giant fork if you

will and I actually have the fork that I

used for this and this effect was done

it's kind of surrealist looking thing

but the effect was made by laying the

fork on its side and actually flashing

the light from below so you can actually

see the light was coming up down here

you can actually see that this was made

by using the the long part of the shadow

rather than playing it directly to the

surface so there's a lot of neat things

you can do with photographs

compositionally one of the other effects

as you can see that this one isn't

entirely black this was done with kind

of a weak light that was moved away from

the print a little bit because I wanted

a gradient going from the black up here

down to a lighter shade of grey down at

the bottom

anyway so there's a lot of cool things

you can do with these I typically will

take an 8 by 10 sheet of paper and cut

it up and make smaller photographs one

of the really cool things about this is

that even if you wanted to make multiple

prints of these photographs each one of

them will be different like this for

probably wouldn't be placed in that

exact same location twice so you get a

kind of a uniqueness about these I did

make several eucalyptus plant and

they're all pretty different I move the

lights and stuff like that but even just

placing the plant down it didn't go down

the same every time

the grass would be impossible to

replicate because you put the grass

blades down directly on onto the

developing paper in this instance

there's a lot of neat things you can do

with this and it's really easy to do

next time we're going to go into the

darkroom I'm actually going to show you

how to do them but I'm going to put a

supply list in the show notes so go to

the show website if you want to see that

if you want to work along you very you

need very little to do this and that's

my point

and also I've kind of come up with a

supply list that keeps things very

affordable so I think you could probably

get into this whole thing for under $100

the first thing you're going to need

obviously is a pack of paper a

photographic paper that you can buy and

it would the price varies on how many

sheets you order I would recommend

getting probably 50 sheets to start out

with because you'll make some mistakes

early on and where you may end up really

liking it and you'll want to order more

paper later and so you get a little

better deal if you do that I think they

come as few as 10 or 25 I would keep it

8 by 10 that keeps things sane as well

beyond that as far as chemicals and

again we'll talk about chemical safety

next time so don't do anything foolish

with chemicals don't eat them don't

leave them out for children to play with

pets to play and things like that that

would be bad but anyway be very careful

with chemicals but if you watched the

episodes where we talked about

developing film a while back you can

kind of use some of those same chemicals

the developer is different you need to

get specifically a paper developer it

won't cost much you dilute it with water

and so I recommend also getting some

distilled water at the grocery store

just because tap water tends to vary

depending on where you live and can have

stuff in it and that is not good and can

be on your prints it's hard to rinse out

and things like that but anyway go ahead

and get some paper developer beyond that

the stop bath and the fixture you can

use the same stop etham fixer that you

use with photographic negatives and

again we're going to go over all this

next time

put a shopping list here so if you're

interested in purchasing these kinds of

things also I would recommend and I

think I got a pack of four of them for

$30 but some trades that are big enough

and made for developing that you can put

your chemicals in because you do need to

soak these in the chemicals for a few

minutes apiece it's not something you

pour over the top and that keeps things

clean too beyond that you're going to

need two light bulbs I would recommend

getting both of them safe lights I would

get an amber light bulb you buy these

from photography suppliers also I would

get an amber bulb and I would get a red

bulb the amber bulb I use as a safe

light and you actually can turn that on

in the darkroom and it gives you enough

dim light to work in but won't expose

your paper when you take it out and then

I like to use the red safety light up

close onto the page to make the exposure

it's dim enough to give you enough time

to work with a lot of these or 15 to 30

second exposures and so I really like

that about using a red light you could

also use a flashlight if you wanted to

but your exposures get really short and

they're hard to control so if you want

any kind of radiation or anything like

that a flashlight is not going to work

as well because it just simply is too

bright I would not recommend if you're

just going to make photographs in buying

lamps that are sold through photography

shops you can use household lamps these

are just regular light bulbs they screw

into any fixture I actually use a work

light for my exposure light that I put

directly over my subject and then I have

a lamp that I use as my safe light that

I put kind of behind some boxes so don't

over expose things but anyway like I

said we'll show you how to make these

next time but until then this has been

the art of photography and thank you

again for watching