Pleasantly Repeatable Photographic Mistakes
Saturday, November 14, 2020
On someday of January 2000 I was having quite a few photographic sessions with my Japanese Canadian friend H. One day she suggested that she be photographed with a woman who did Shiatsu. I was to take photographs that represented accurate Shiatsu applications.
For the shoot I used a Mamiya RB-67 with Ilford FP4-Plus. For fun I also loaded a Nikon FM2 with Kodak Infrared B+W Film. For extra fun I decided to use my Profoto ring flash. This expensive piece of equipment which I had recently purchased by its very nature did not have a modeling light. I found the idea of purchasing an expensive Profoto pack to use this light a silly idea. At the time we had a very good photographic light repair man called Viktor. He modified the ring flash to be plugged into one of my three ancient Norman 200B battery packs. This meant that I could take my ring flash anywhere and not have to depend on having nearby electricity.
During the shoot with H, in my preoccupation of making sure the Nikon lens had the proper deep red filter, I did not notice the camera was crooked. Since many Japanese are polite H thought the camera was supposed to be crooked and said nothing. When I printed the contact sheet and saw this exposure (removed the visible nipple her so as not to offend the cultural police) I realized I had something good going. In my editorial photography for many magazines and newspapers I used this technique to convey with some artists and serious writers that they were avant-garde. It became one of my recipes of my photographic cookbook. The way to do this is to use a short enough lens that the lens in the crooked position is able to “read” the ring when it flashes. Sometimes when this fails you get this other wonderful effect.
When I purchased my first digital camera a Fuji X-E1 and subsequently an X-E3 I did not see why I could not keep on with that successful photographic mistake.
The whole idea of my experience in photography is that mistakes will always be made. If one is methodical in one’s approach, upon finding a pleasant mistake it will be easy to find out where it was made and to be repeated!