Kill your Darlings....
"KILL YOUR DARLINGS..."
"kill your darlings" is basically about ruining your pictures - either the print it self or the negative..
Normally, scratches - dots of chalk - dust and fingerprints are the worst a photographer knows....but sometime accidents happen - and what do you do if you ex. have dropped you film on the floor..?
Maybe you curse a bit...but you have the chance to turn your luck..
Use it!! The random scratches and evt. fingerprints actually can help a picture to an other level - maybe better - maybe worse..But often the "killing" can transfer a almost good picture to a very good picture..
There are - of course lots of ways to ruin a negative, and you must find your own way..TRY IT... it is a very special feeling just before you start "killing".
A painter once said:"You must be prepared to destroy your picture in order to get a better one...."
and sometimes it is true...
Suggestions on how to……
First of all: if you use a normal negative (24x36), the control over the “killings” is difficult!
A fine line, done by a needle or even fine sand paper, will obviously be very enlarged when printed. And thus loose the fine character – being rough to look at..
That it self doesn’t have to be a problem – just so you are aware of it…
I always use big negatives to this.
I prefer Polaroid 665 which is a brilliant film, that give you both a positive AND a fine negative in a decent seize..
One thing to consider before action…
To ruin a negative means mainly to remove some of the emulsion from the negative…
That means that emulsion has to be there….
A light background and subject is much easier to manipulate than a dark one….
(it is difficult to make a dark line in an area that is dark beforehand…)
Ways of ruining..
1: curling the negative.
Take the negative in your hand and curl it! Or curl it and throw it on the floor. Stamp on it!
The uncertainness of the result is one of the points here….
2: scratching the negative…
Anything goes to scratch the negative..
A thump rule is that if you are scratching the emulsion side, you’ll get dark lines.. and scratching the blank side will give you light lines… .
(Obviously – if you scratch heavily, you’ll always gat dark lines, as the tool will remove all stuff on the negative…)
A needle can be fine, as long as you know, that it is DIFFICULT to control ..
The shaving blade or equivalent can be used to take larger areas away.. (Be careful)
Sand paper is great!
Make sure that you have it in different grain seizes…
IF you make the emulsion side a little wet or damp, then the sand paper will have more and rougher effect!
And it will normally leave some wet “lumps” of emulsion residue on the negative…
If you will, this will give you small very white “dust” on the image when dried…
Cutting and other heavy measures…
I often cut my negatives in pieces. And then try to tape them back together in a casual – not precise way…
I use normal blank tape – and often I make it dirty with my fingers (finger prints..) before taping..
Some times I take a cigarette and burn a hole in the negative with it…
You will get a black hole with a white border from it..
If I tape the place, where I want to burn, and then only melt the area, I’ll get a white space that looks a little like a shooting star – or a “blood cell”….
Melt the edges of the negative, and you’ll get white borders..
Bleaching and fixing…
You can bleach the negative as if it was a normal print…
But it will not be as evenly bleached..
I always use a little brush, and add the bleach where I want it…
You will see that the negative will turn yellowish and milky….
Now you have three choices…(at least….)
1 If you rinse with water, and then fix it in a normal fix, the bleached areas will make the negative quite transparent… (and the result will be total darkness)
2 If you leave it – the print will show the different stages of bleaching, and therefore in many cases be more interesting to look at.
3 if you leave the bleach, and then add the fix directly on the negative – also using a brush, the chemicals will tend to “fight” one another, and surprising results will appear…
(this is my normal procedure)
By the way: IF you have added too much bleach, or it is too strong, you have a way to “go back”…
As long as the areas isn’t fixed yet..
Rinse the negative, and then put it in normal developer! Then it will redevelop… (almost, that is…)
(you can also use this “feature” as a way of manipulating – if you let the three different chemicals “fight” at the same time on the negative..)
if you leave the chemicals untouched on your negative, a further process will take place over time…. So if you want to make your prints – and then “save” most of your negative, then it is important to rinse the negative well after printing…
(and loose your killings!!)
I have mentioned the tape.
But if you take some tape and curl it a bit, and then put it on the back side of the negative, you’ll have a possibility to manipulate the emulsion side, if you want to…
The tape will often look as if the picture is taken through broken glass….
If you make the negative wet, ex. Cigarette ashes or other kind of ashes are easy to add – and thereby making the areas lighter…
Coffee can actually also be used successfully. Out strong coffee on, and let it dry… the tone of the coffee will react as a filter, and also make the areas lighter….
dilute some salt in water. this solution can be added to the negative with fine results.
furthermore it can easily be removed again! (which might go against the "rules" of killing, but who cares..
This was a little about the killing process…
If you want the recipe for the bleach then mail me…
(or I’ll add it to this article later – have to translate the words correctly!)
Comments from the previous article system:
By mikepry - 01:19 AM, 05-14-2005 Rating: None
you're creeping me out, man.
By Noah Huber - 05:02 AM, 08-13-2005 Rating: None
Loving it Emil . .. I trully hope to meet you some day... maybe even own a print of yours... (if I can afford it) . . .
I allways look forward to seeing more of your work.
I too love to destroy my photographs.
Do you make a copy of your negative before destroying it? I have found my destuctive efforts to not work as well as I would've liked, and I would like to try again. It seems if I had several go arounds at it that would work well.
Also, try this. Print the photo you wish to destroy as normal. Then, using a negative that is dmax all over (ie: overexposed open sky, or light table) print in the artifacts and destructive qualities you desire. This allows you to have an "unkilled" negative to use in any other way you please.
Maybe these aren't true to the rules of killing, but who said there had to rules, right?
Emil, thanks for the post. Perhaps you'll share some of your bromoil wisdom with us here :)
Glad I found this. I love your examples.
"Kill your darlings" was an apothegm supposedly coined by Faulkner. It does not mean "inadvertent mistakes." It refers to the need to brutally edit out all the detritus that does not contribute to a story.
Good advice on reviving damaged negatives though.
Great images, I think you are very good at killing your darlings.
You can kill them as you say and then make them better with Photoshop!
what is photoshop? what can I buy there??
Originally Posted by NormanV
I think it is a store that sells photographs? Maybe it's a chain of shops because I keep hearing references to it from all over.