Tips & Techniques page 1


The place for "show and tell," to learn "how to,"  find ideas and maybe a secret or two... 

Everything has been thought of before.  The hard thing is to think of it again...


Our first article "Imagination" by Jim Pittman, a Life Member of the Twin City Camera Club,
is a wonderful way to inaugurate the Tips and Techniques section of the TCCC website.
More so because it is my understanding that Jim was instrumental in the creation of the
"Color Print" classification in the club's competition by entering the first color prints.
What a stir that must have caused...  Jim's photographic prints in Color and in Black and White
are always a treat to see.  Printing was Jim's passion and his craftsmanship in the darkroom
is rarely equaled.  Couple that with his excellent skills as a photographer, teaching classes in the
darkroom, presenting programs, judging competitions and his willingness to share his time
and knowledge in assisting others to learn more about photography, make him a TCCC treasure.


This is a Show and Tell way to help fire up your imagination, get your creative juices flowing
and hopefully generate some fun while you are at it.       Your webmaster...


By Jim Pittman

Your imagination is one of your best tools for photography.

In a time of Photoshop, Elements, Paint Shop Pro and a host of other image manipulation programs, it’s good to know that imagination is still one of the best tools you can have whether you’re into film or digital photography.

It doesn’t weigh anything, doesn’t cost anything, it is individualistic and it is always with you -- if you can remember to use it.  Even with all kinds of expensive equipment, you still have to be able to recognize a potential picture when you see it.  This has become significantly easier since the advent of digital cameras, scanners and Photoshop type programs, compared with multiple exposures and printing composite photographs with traditional film equipment. Whatever process it is that you use, don’t forget your IMAGINATION.


Before Photoshop and automatic digital cameras:
Here are some examples using film, paper and darkroom processing.


Can you take a picture of a black cat on a black background?  

We had a black cat, but he didn’t always want to pose.  So I set up a black background and put some black velvet on a 4’stool to limit his movement.  I set up a flash on a light stand to keep the flash to subject distance constant, dangled some monofilament fishing line to get his attention and head position I wanted.  After a lot of frames, I finally got something to use.  If you pet him to smooth out the hair, you get some helpful glossy highlights and the cat seems to like it too.




How about a picture of a white mouse on a white background?

Rather than using a white background and get a shadow, I put a piece of glass between two chairs and some white paper on the floor with a flash above and a flash on the white paper on the floor.  Mice move really fast and leave a trail behind, so it takes patience to get the shot.

I used the same setup for the dice coming out of the cup shooting a Lucky 7 on the first try.  This was a setup and not an action shot.  By using the glass, there were no shadows, making the dice appear to be flying out of the cup.





For the “So Long Cruel World” photograph, I took a picture of my hand and a picture of the toilet stool at home.  I printed both at 16x20, then cut out the picture of my hand and glued it onto the picture of the stool.



The picture of the three blind mice was done on one 35 mm negative. I cut the blindfold out of some black electrical tape and cut a hole in a piece of black velvet. Covered my left hand with the cloth and put the mouse’s head through the hole. By holding the mouse, I could limit its motion and keep it from using its paws to remove the “blindfold”.  I set the focus at the distance I wanted for the size of the head. This was before auto focus and auto exposure, so I had to set the mouse down and re-cock the camera without advancing the film, and try to remember where on the frame the last exposure of the mouse was. After many tries, I finally got one frame right.



You go to an air show and take pictures of a biplane, then take pictures of a barn with a windmill, and a sunset.  I made Kodalith copies of the negatives of the barn with the windmill and of the airplane.  I made a sketch on paper, taped it on the easel, to show where I wanted the images so I could line them up and focus between exposures.  Exposed the paper for the sunset, put the paper back in the paper safe, then changed to the negative of the barn, then the airplane to make multiple exposures using the same paper before developing the print.





Here are a few of the other ideas that made it into prints.   Can you guess the titles?




Titles: Egg Beaters; Fertilized Egg; Nut and Bolt; Thumb Screw; Pregnant Pepper; Sexy Symbols.            

Highlight the area above with your cursor to reveal the titles.




Then there is a computer with Photoshop and a scanner for the negatives:

These were done by scanning negatives into the computer, using Photoshop, then out to a film recorder to make 4x5 negatives, which were printed in the darkroom:

The cow jumping over the moon, and the witch and pier were both done in Photoshop, using a combination of scanned negatives and scans from a children’s book of the cow and the witch.  I combined the images on separate layers and then made 4x5 negatives with a film recorder. Then it was into the darkroom to print the color negatives. Combining the images in the computer was much easier than doing multiple exposures in the darkroom, however with traditional film processes you can achieve the same results.




If you have negatives of a white mouse, a black cat, a moon and an outhouse, what can you do?   I scanned the negatives and isolated the subjects and combined them on separate layers to end up with the Cat and the Outhouse Mouse.




Add a digital camera, plus a computer with Photoshop and a film recorder for a 4x5 negative to print:

These were done with a digital camera, a computer with Photoshop, then out to a film recorder to make 4x5 negatives, which were printed in the darkroom.   Can't seem to get away from that darkroom. 


The plate of peppers was done in Photoshop by isolating the red ones and removing the color from all the rest.




The picture of the frog with teeth, glasses, hat and cigar was made by taking a picture of a plastic frog with some old fashioned granny glasses, then pictures of my old fishing hat, a cigar, some teeth and a beer can.  Isolated the subjects in Photoshop, then combined them  on separate layers.  Then made a 4x5 negative to print.




Here are a couple of the other digital ideas that made it into prints.






I hope you enjoyed the images and learned a little about how they were created.  
Your imagination is one of your best tools.   You have seen some examples from before and after digital.  You have to think and plan what you are going to do.  Make challenges to yourself, like the black cat on a black background.  Think of "sayings" or different things that have the same name, like the "nut" and bolt picture, then look for examples to depict them to the observer.  Get the observers to say to themselves, "Wow, that's really neat, I should have thought of that!"   Have fun and good luck!




Additional Tips & Techniques pages:

    - IMAGINATION by Jim Pittman - You are Here


- Test images used to Calibrate Monitors

 - TCCC Wildflower Fieldtrip Guides

- Surrealistic Image Enhancement with Elements 6.0

        - Do It Yourself Flash Projects by Ted Post



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