I've always thought one of the amusing things about 'special effects' is that there isn't anything 'magical' or 'special' about them.
They are just a matter of using all the techniques and materials available in a "*very* well thought out " way.

Before you plug in the enlarger, and fill those trays?.... you need to 'have a plan', an idea.

Sit down with your proof sheets, and put on your thinking cap....

I shot this forest scene for the perspective of the space (trees around the edge, open and 'rushing towards me' in the center) and also for the texture of the ivy that covers everything in sight.

Both the texture, and perspective contribte to the illusion.






the forest


Elsewhere in my proof sheets was a waterfall.... the texture at the top of the image had similar qualities to the forest floor, but the perspective of the _bottom_ added a real 'twist' .

That looked pretty interesting....

(Now it's time to plug in the enlarger.)



The falls


It ended up being the first print I made that 'worked'.
( If I remember right, it was in 1983.)


It's the "edge of the world".




This is how it's put together:

.The 'black to white strip ' on the left side of the image, is a 'graph' of the amount of exposure the neg gets -
(Black =100%, white = 0%)

A test sheet should look like this:

And when you do a test sheet of the bottom image, it should look like this:



You *do* have to have a decent understanding, and some skill with, 'dodging' and 'burning' techniques to do this - Refer to a good 'basic skills' book - they aren't difficult at all, for this image. All you need is a black piece of paper, and a hand.

The process goes like this -

Set up the first neg, test it for exposure, & blending/dodging, etc. .....
then expose however many sheets you want - do em all the same way!! - (that way, when you develop the first 'final' one, and the 'union' of the two needs adjustment, you know the next sheets will be the same, and you can "adjust" the second exposure, & get a predictable result.)

Put those sheets back in the paper safe .....But not before putting a check mark of some kind on the lower left corner,
so you can orientate the paper correctlyfor next exposure

Then - set up the next neg -
Figure out where/what size it should be, ... test it ( take the time and paper to really look at the contrast and values of both parts of the image - it'll be worth it) .... and then expose the second neg (on sheets with the first neg exposure already 'there' ) - *One* at a time !! - look carefully at what/how you've done, and adjust accordingly -

My darkroom "modus operandi" includes....

1) Registration - Depends on your easel - For this picture, I used an ancient Saunders 11x14 w/ adjustable blades, and the 'slot' on the baseboard works pretty well - just make sure you always insert the paper *completely* into the slot, and if there is a bit more 'slot' than 'paper', make sure your paper is always ' flush' with either the top or bottom.
When I print with a 16x20 on a bladeless easel it has two thumbtacks on the back that'punch' every sheet, at the corners.... amazing what you can do with simple stuff, and *duct tape*...

Just drill two small holes at the bottom of the easel, clip the ends of two thumbtacks,insert them in the holes, and tape them in place w/ duct tape.. from underneath.

2) Make sure the easel *stays put!* ( for the entirety of each exposure, once you have decided on size/postion) - Tape it down, if you have to ...

3) Keep track of what goes on in each exposure on a piece of paper that's taped to that easel -
Draw a 'rough' of the image, and lines that show you where you start to dodge out, and where you finally get to "0" on each exposure. I use bits of white tape(visible under safelight) on the borders of the easel itself , to follow when i actually expose -

4) Gotta keep track of each sheet of paper you expose for the 'final image' - mark each sheet w/ something that designates top(or bottom) - so you don't put it in the second time, *upside down* ....
(I have 'tiers' of paper - separated by a sheet of cardboard, in my paper safe,to keep the 'paper supply' straight - you wouldn't want to shred one of your 'finals', for a test strip, wouldja?....)

Once you can get something simple like this to work( just a 'top' and a 'bottom'), you'll start to see how the process works, and you can improvise from there -

I am sure i went thru over 50 sheets of 11x14, to make this one work.
But the next time, it only took 25 sheets, and the next time, only 20 ......

.. well, now, with less than 10 sheets, i can figure out most anything - and with *many* more than 2 elements(negs), too - "practice makes perfect".

Other than a "filter holder" under my enlarger lense ( more on that one, in the next installment ), I have no secrets or tricks - I use stuff you can get at any art supply store - black paper, matte board( for dodging tools), .... tape(white, for marking spots on the easel borders), ..... totally simple stuff. I also set my timer to expose a neg in 2 or 3 second intervals ( and i end up exposing for at least 7 or 8 of them ) - so that i do not have to count, or guess, at the time lengths i am doing anything for during a long _continuous_ exposure.
(( IE: " 7 x 2 seconds as a basic exposure,...2 x 2 seconds on the top corners,... 3 x 2 seconds on the left edge...etc....))

The most important part of all this, is at the top of the page ----

>>>>Before you plug in the enlarger, and fill those trays?....
you need to 'have a plan', an idea.

Sit down with your proof sheets, and put on your thinking cap....

Text and Images -© B.Bennett - 1981-2003