Musings on creativity for photographers and artists by Rob Hudson

Friday, 20 July 2012

Songs of Travel: A new project in the making

Songs of Travel is a new project in the making, it was conceived as a project specifically for film photography, rather than digital, something that would utilise films' serendipitous nature in double exposures. The idea is to celebrate the joys of walking aimlessly along our myriad footpaths, the title comes from a Robert Louis Stephenson poem that was adapted musically by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Unlike my Skirrid Hill project it isn't directly influenced by the words or the music (if I'm honest I dislike both) but I have taken the idea of an almost plodding rhythmic romanticism that infused the text and musical sequence, it is after all a eulogy to an almost mystical experience rather than a translation into pictures.

I haven't used film for nigh on 20 years and before the day I'd made the images below I hadn't been out for any landscape photography for three whole months, I just knew I'd be a bit rusty, so like a coward I just took the digital and experimented, as a way of piecing together my somewhat fragmented ideas and expectation. I'm starting to get a clearer idea of what I want now, so may be ready to actually commit some images to emulsion. But the freedom of playing around in digital  has helped frame the finished look more in a way that I think will alter my approach in the use of film.

What I found in the digital edit was a combination of black and white and colour (digital layers rather than double exposure) had a dramatic effect. The ghostlike black and white seemed entirely in keeping with the metaphorical past, the sensory retreat of a long walk and yet the colours, even if subdued stand out like flashes in a dream or memory. Footpaths, like all long journeys are remembered piecemeal, certain aspects come to predominate while others shrink into the background. It is this memory like effect that I'm seeking to replicate, something transient, where one image in the mind sparks or leads strangely into another. It's something that is honestly quite difficult to put into words which I suppose is where the images come to find a purpose.

So instead of a traditional film double exposure I am considering a mixed media approach (sorry!) of digitally combining a black and white film image with a colour film image. This allows greater control over which image to combine with which and the relative density of the layers. I guess I'm still too driven by my digital workflow to see any other way. Although I'll admit it lacks the serendipity of a direct film double exposure, you'll have to allow me my 'breaking in' period with film.


  1. Hi Rob,

    If you have a scanner you could always scan two negs on top of each other rather than doing a double exposure in camera or in photoshop? You could get sproket holes or fuzzy edges that way too if you so wished.

    Sounds like a good idea for a project and the results so far are very interesting.


    1. Thank you Mike, I just knew one of you analogue 'artisans' out there would find a different solution! I don't have a scanner at present, but I'm sure there are ways around that.


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