Thursday, November 16, 2006

Multiple Printing

In the late 1960s Jerry Uelsmann changed photography in a fundamental way. He created a series of seamless altered black and white photographs that at first look like a traditional photograph. Upon closer inspection, it quickly becomes evident that these photographs are not images of the everyday world. He has skillfully combined two or more photographs together on a single sheet of paper using two or more enlargers, being exposed multiple times before being placed in print developer. Each enlarger has it's own carefully placed easel, and the process has a shared single sheet of paper.

The first and most basic level of combining two images is to take two negatives and put each one in two adjacent enlargers. Each enlarger needs it's own easel. Make some basic test strips of each. Take a full sheet of paper and expose part of it under the first enlarger. Transfer the exposed sheet of paper to the second easel and re-expose it to the second negative. Do not try this with one enlarger shifting negatives in and out of the negative carrier during the process. This severely limits the possibilities of this exciting process. There are many possibilities here. You can have the two images overlap in full or in part thru selectively burning and dodging. Exposure times can be varied on the two exposures. This is a very basic multiple print with limited potential. With more experience add more enlargers to the process staying with a single sheet of paper. Explore the many possibilities rather than trying to mimic Uelsmann. The world does not need two Jerry Uelsmanns.

With Photoshop the process is as follows. Uelsmann's photographs are not made with Photoshop. All of his photographs are made in a traditional darkroom with multiple enlargers.

In Photoshop take two files and fully edit them but do not sharpen them. Move each file to a new canvas. Try placing them next to each other or try overlapping them with different opacities. When done sharpen the final image before printing. The options here are different than with an enlarger. Darkroom options can be closely mimicked plus there are a new set of options that are difficult to impossible to explore in a darkroom. A great example of creating multiple images in Photoshop is Andreas Gursky.

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