h e Q u i l l I n F o c u s
How To Make Photograms
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A photogram is the simplest kind of photograph to make. You
don't even need a camera or enlarger. All that's required is a room that gets
dark, photographic paper, developing chemicals, trays, and your
Of course, a regular darkroom with an enlarger will give you
more flexibility, but it's not really necessary.
How do you make
photograms, which, as a note of interest, have been around since the mid 19th
The process is so simple even a child can produce them. Under
safelight conditions [you can use a safelight bulb in a table lamp] lay out a
piece of photographic paper. Now, using your imagination, arrange objects on the
paper such as scissors, keys, cardboard cutouts, etc. You'll find many everyday
household items that can be used.
Turn on the normal room light for just
a few seconds to expose the paper. Whatever you've placed in the path of the
light will create a white silhouette once the paper is developed. [A brief note
on developing: all that is required are three trays of chemicals developer, stop
bath, and fixer used in this order].
You may have to experiment to get a
proper exposure time but this won't be hard to do.
For those with,
darkrooms, use your enlarger as the light source, exposing with a time long
enough to produce a rich black on the uncovered areas of the paper.
sharpness of the edges of the silhouettes depends on the thickness of the
object. Flat objects such as a key, will produce crisp, easily recognizable
shapes whereas a more three-dimensional item will result in a softer image
perhaps adding more mood to your photogram.
Many amateurs will make a few
photograms as a means of introduction to the darkroom but will not continue
because the process appears too easy and too limited.
This need not be
true. By allowing your imagination and creativity to flow, you can come up with
many exciting photogram ideas. For example, use translucent or transparent
objects to give you varying degrees of gray tones in the finished print. Also,
anything that reflects, refracts, or diffuses light is worthy of
experimentation. Broken glass or crumpled cellophane can make photograms of
unusual interest. If you have an enlarger, how about superimposing a negative
right onto the photogram?
I made the photogram of this "automobile" by
using such simple objects as washers, metal filings, a ruler, film reels, and a
piece of string for the roadway.
Whatever types of photograms you elect to
do, you'll find that the spirit of imagination and experimentation is the key to