jay/jen besemer - gorgeous hybrids and recombinant poetry

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The Querist of Forms

Recovering Overexposed Impossible Project Pics

You know the feeling.  

You set up a shot with your instant camera, loaded with Impossible Projectâ„¢ film.  You've taken every precaution against light contamination in the first few seconds after the shot exits the camera (perhaps purchasing an accessory to aid your efforts in image-shielding).  But for whatever reason--you're in a hurry, you're distracted--you later discover that you've accidentally blown out your carefully-composed photograph.  It hurts. It stings.  You want to stamp your little feet.

But fear not!  That photo isn't lost after all!  In fact, you can get some very interesting results from digitally tweaking these mistakes.  If you have a scanner and an image-editing program, you can transform illegible "wasted" shots into...something else!

  1. Scan your photo. 
  2. Open the photo in your image editing program.  
  3. Adjust the brightness and contrast of your photo.  Here is where it gets subjective--not every image editing program does this the same way, but most of them allow you some control in this arena.  There's no fixed percentage of change, either.  The amount of adjustment will vary with the degree of overexposure in the image, your own preferences, and other factors.  Experiment!
  4. Adjust the shadows, highlights and midtone contrast of your photo.  These options are not always available in every image editing program.  You may have to poke around in your program to see how to adjust these options, or what they're called in that particular program.  Again, this will be very subjective.  Play around with the settings until you see a preview you like.  
  5. If you want, adjust the color of the photo.  Once you have a legible image that you like, you can play around with color to make the results even more interesting.  Two adjustments I frequently make are in saturation and image mode.  For the result below, I changed the RGB color image to grayscale.

Obviously, in recovering a legible photograph this way, you're going to lose the pure analog quality of your instant photo.  But if you save each image at each step of the way, you get three or four interesting variations for the price of one "mistake"--and that's definitely not a waste of film.

Here's the result!

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