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Marie Ashley Nelson   September 26, 2013

Multiple Ways

There have been a great number of attempts at making "time stand still" that date all the way back to the 1850's, initiatives born of the collision between humans' natural impulse to capture life's moments and age old chemistry. It is the beautiful and interesting chemical reaction between light and silver halide crystals that made photography possible. The most familiar photographic film developed was introduced by Kodak almost 100 years later––135 ISO 1007 film, which we commonly refer to as 35mm. A plastic film is covered with the microscopic crystals thanks to a gelatine based emulsion. Depending on the type of film, there can be one to over 20 layers of silver salts, each coated with varying types of dyes, allowing them to absorb and react to light differently. These layers give us a wonderful range of films to use depending on the desired sensitivity to light, contrast, black & white versus colour and resolution we may want.

Multiple exposure photography is an image that results from the collision of two or more images. Outside of regular considerations about lighting, aperture and speed, the real formula for creating a multiple exposure image is to strike a fortunate balance between the following variables:

Framing: with each new image layered on, you must consider its position relative to the one before as well as to the one after and so on.

Zones of light and darkness: Colliding images with consideration to zones of light and darkness is like an equation where you can cancel out certain regions and isolate others. Ex: A brightly lit object will overtake any dark zones on a previous images while superimposing a dark area over a luminous zone will make the darker area vanish or appear as a ghostly version of itself. This can be used very creatively.

Unpredictable elements: When working with old cameras, you do not have the luxury of instant gratification by immediately viewing the image you’re building. You must foster patience and accept that many things can go wrong. Light leaks, mechanical problems with the camera, the scanner misreading your strangely textured images, low light, over exposures, fog build-up, limitations in terms what type of pictures you can achieve only using natural light and so on... An appreciation for the unpredictable must always be a part of the equation.

After going through hundreds of rolls of film, experimenting with countless variables and occasionally giving life to a few dreamy visions, it is the process behind multiple exposure photography that makes my heart beat and it has given me so much more than the images you will be viewing. It is a process by which I am reminded of the value in taking the time to calculate an action before executing it, where patience brings immensely more satisfaction then instant gratification, where creating something is about being in the moment, where taking a pause from your hectic schedule to notice something lovely becomes a part of your everyday life and finally, how I found the ability to let go and view errors as a part of all things beautiful. It is my pleasure to share with you a few pictures from my collection called Multiple Ways.

About the Artist

Marie Ashley Nelson is a self employed multi-disciplinary artist working in the field of Special Effects for almost a decade. Her passion for problem solving, communications and a love for sciences is what explains her commitment to getting involved with projects that promote interdisciplinary exchanges and ethical thinking. She believes in the constant kindling of curiosity and the practice of everyday kindness. Presently back in school to acquire a background in Sciences, she hopes to bring her passions and skills together to contribute in building a more sustainable world one day.

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    November 2, 2013

    This is so interesting! I practice photography as a hobby and, like you, love the process of working with an old camera. I’ve never really seen multiple exposure photography executed well like this, its fascinating! The juxtaposition and colliding of images really does create an affect you simply cannot obtain with one image. It provokes different perspectives and forces the viewer to think twice about what they see and how they see it. I particularly love the typewriter piece; it really shows movement in time with the transitions between dark and light. I also really appreciated your mention of having to take time to notice something beautiful in life everyday, and seeing the beauty in error as a completely necessary part to all things. Its nice knowing that the process itself is almost just as valuable as the finished product.

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    November 4, 2013

    That was very well written! I enjoyed how you started with the concept of photographs as time-stoppers. It’s neat to think of photos as such. The contrast between the technical aspect of photography and the artistic side was nice, as well. It reminded me of how much of an art photography is. Some people don’t believe it is, but when you use phrases like “the image you’re building” and “creating something is about being in the moment”, I can’t help but think of it as an art form. It’s a creative and expressive hobby in which you are capturing something beautiful or emotional. It’s a powerful and important art form.

    Well done! This was a very interesting piece. 

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    December 3, 2013

    I really enjoyed reading your article and viewing the gallery images. The article was both well written and informative, and it allowed me to learn how a single image can be collided with another to create a brand new image. I had several favorite images shown throughout the gallery and it was fun yet challenging to attempt to find the two images and see how they are layered together and to try an imagine them separately. I have never come in contact with this type of photography but after reading this article and viewing the images I now have a new found respect for this form of art entitled multiple exposure photography. Good job.

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