Hoarding has its positive side. While digital photography has made it almost impossible to fail, there’s always a percentage of shots which no matter how much you tweak the light and colour, they’re just boring. When I came across this very easy technique for transforming an uninteresting photo, I was glad I’d kept my bad pictures.
The landscape above was not snapped on another planet with a myriad of moons in its orbit, it’s just an uninteresting photo of a corn field that’s been ‘introduced’ to household bleach.
Yes, it’s another technique using household bleach. I know Chlorine is not good for the environment. If you want my justification, you can read it at my blog on bleach printing on fabric. I’ll bolster that argument by pointing out that producing the photographic print in the first place has necessitated the use of a variety of chemicals, so to salvage it for ‘artful use’ has to be better than throwing it away.
The process is extremely simple. You’ll need:
- Two plastic trays (cheap cat litter trays will do)
- 50% solution water/household bleach
- Paper towels
Safety Note: BLEACH IS DANGEROUS. THE TECHNIQUE IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN. WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING AND GLOVES. WEAR PROTECTIVE EYE GEAR. IF BLEACH SPLASHES INTO YOUR EYE, WASH OUT WITH COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF COLD WATER AND SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE AT ONCE.
- Take your photo and dip it into the tray of water.
- Dip it next into the bleach/water tray, for about 6-10 seconds.
- Dip it again in the water to stop the action of the bleach.
That’s the basic process. You can add to this, of course. Instead of dipping, for instance, you can add the bleach solution to the photo or parts of it with a paintbrush. (This is how I arrived at my image above). You could add the bleach through a stencil. You could use stamps or sponges. Experiment!
So don’t throw your ‘failed’ photos away. Make art with them instead. Make new worlds!
Acknowledgement for the bleaching technique:
Note that Karen is also the author of:
Green Guide for Artists: Nontoxic Recipes, Green Art Ideas & Resources for the Eco-Conscious Artist