The Creation of
Also about masking & movement.
(See Portfolio plate 21)
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The Subject a Screen
So far all the techniques described have involved using a screen or
a textured surface as a screen. The fact that fabrics, to add a texture do not
have to remain flat has also been mentioned. Once some experience has been
gained, it is not difficult to move on to other objects that can do more than just act as
a screen. These are items that become an important part of the subject of the
new photograph as essential as the projected image.
Plate 18 may best demonstrate this concept. The original portrait was projected on to the shell, and the contours of the shell
influenced the projected image. The masking was achieved by using a diffused
mask behind the lens, that allowed light to illuminate other parts of the
An extra light was placed behind, and to the right of the shells, to
help illuminate the other shells.
There are a number of other objects (in the Poetic Portfolio) that have been used in this
way; a butterfly with a river scene, an orchid, a ball of wool and a Siamese cat, a coin,
or a decaying holly leaf. Plate 41 (Poetic Portfolio) is really almost a texture
study, but can you see the nude? She is well worth another look!
Even a highly reflective surface can be used see Plate 19.
These coins were fixed to rods out of view behind each coin. The camera was
directly in front of the top coin, so that the projected image from the projector was to
the left of the camera. This meant that the camera lens avoided the very
bright reflection. Had the camera been moved a little to the right, the image
would not only have become too bright, but there would also have been a hot spot from the
reflection of the projector bulb would have spoiled the result.
The edges of the pages of a book were used to create plate 21 'The preacher'
Apart from masking the projected image, other light sources had to be
introduced to illuminate the rest of the scene all without spoiling the projected image.
It can be fascinating to take your projector for a walk! Use an extension lead
and just project a selection of slides on to everything in sight. By focusing
on to a wide range of objects, you will be able to see what happens - expect to be
surprised at some of the possibilities that will no doubt come to light!
Masking is best achieved by using black card that is stiff
enough to stay upright; yet is easily cut into whatever shape is required. It
works well in front or behind the projector lens. If masking in front of the
lens it will quickly become apparent that the nearer to the screen the mask is placed, the
sharper the shadow cast. The ideal is to always use a soft edge shadow so the
mask will not be very far forward of the lens.
If it is possible to work behind the lens then the nearer to the film, the sharper the
shadows edge. The mask is usually approximately 1cm. in front of the film, so
that a soft edge shadow is cast from each projected image. It is then simple
to perfectly blend different images when working with more than one projector.
There have been times when instead of masking with black card a transparent opaque plastic
has been preferred, this avoids a black shadow forming, especially if the second
projection is not adding much in that particular area. Tracing paper has been
effective for this purpose normally placed behind the lens near to the film.
Lastly, where small awkward mask shapes are required, behind the lens, instead of using
black card Blu-tack is useful. It can be applied on to thin glass, as used for
mounting slides, and it is then easy to alter both the size and shape of this pliable
Many intriguing effects of projected images will only be
apparent so long as the projected image is moving. Stop still in any one place
and the effect is lost. Heavily textured or patterned material for example
can completely overpower the stationary projected image, that is, until the projector is
The only way to capture this phenomenon is to use cine or video equipment, but it is not
too easy to achieve good results, due to the low exposure that is often needed.
The author was lucky enough to be invited by a film producer to experiment in the late
1960's with professional 35mm movie equipment. To see if it could be possible
not only to film a moving projected transparency, but to also capture the projected 35mm
movie image. The main problem was to gain perfect synchronisation between the
movie camera and the cinema film projection. It is essential that the camera
shutter opens at the same instant that the individually projected frame of the movie
Good results were achieved. Projected moving images were re-filmed, on objects
that were also moving, without too much difficulty. This is only mentioned as
all the described techniques still apply in this form too. Many film titles
and credits have since been created in this way. The cine or video enthusiast
might well find this of interest too.
Before considering a second projector, with just one, there are now an amazing amount of
possibilities that can be achieved with the projected image. However with two
projectors the additional special effects are quite sensational.
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