Psychedelic prints without LSD!

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Think back to the Beatles and the days of psychedelic art.  Some amazing images were produced, mostly while under the influence of illegal substances.  This week I will show you some old technology, so you can produce your own amazing images without any LSD.

You do not need any special equipment at all – other than an ‘old’ film camera.  Now I know we have all gone digital (including me), but there are plenty of film cameras lying around, and it is still possible to buy slide film.  Not straight off the shelf these days, but your local photo shop can get some in for you, if they haven’t got some in stock.

The good news is that you do not need to know anything about filters, let alone use one.  The next piece of good news is that you also do not need to know anything about f stops, shutter speeds, zoom lenses, reciprocity failure or the like.  Any film camera will do – even a cheap point and shooter!

The first step is to pop down to the local photoshop and buy that slide film.  Don’t worry if you haven’t got a projector, never used slide film before or any other of the excuses.  If you normally used 100 ASA print film then get some 100 ASA slide film.  Do not get the Kodachrome type that you have to send away for processing, just get ordinary slide film that can be processed here.

OK, load the camera with the slide film (it’s just the same to load as print film – for most cameras, put in the cassette, pull the tail across and shut the back of the camera!)

The final result looks best with landscapes – include some sky, or seascapes where you include a yacht or similar close up, or a river scene, and finish the roll of film. Don’t worry too much about the picture itself, it is relatively unimportant.

Now take the film back to the shop for processing and here is an important part.  You ask for E6 slide processing, but do not mount the slides!  Leave the slides either as a roll or cut into strips of six and put in sleeves like your print film negatives used to be.  Impress this on the girl behind the counter.  You do not want them mounted.  Repeat the instructions!

When you get the slide films back, just hold them up to the light and select any one shot that you like the look of.  You can choose the image in the shop even.  You don’t have to be super-selective.

Now talk to the girl behind the counter, saying “I want you to print number X as if this is a negative.  I know it is slide film, but I want you to print a picture, using this slide as if it were a negative.”  It will probably take quite some repeating before the technician will reluctantly take the job on, with much warnings about it will not look right, etc.  Ignore all warnings, just have faith.  While you are at it, tell them that you do not want the usual small size, but get an enlargement done straight off.  10″ x 8″ is sufficient and costs around 100 baht.  The photoshops generally call this size 8R.  Repeat your instructions, tell them you know the color will be wrong and leave them to it.

You see, what happens with color prints is that the processing machine recognizes certain colors in the normal shades of brown negative and converts that to green for grass, blue for skies, etc., in a photochemical way.  By giving the autoprocessor grass that is already green and skies that are already blue totally confuses its auto brain (and the girl in the shop usually) and it will produce a print with the wildest psychedelic colors you will ever see.  Expect orange trees and yellow skies – you can get anything!  It is almost impossible to predict, but the end result will certainly have that Wow factor you’ve always wanted.  Try it this weekend.  You will not be disappointed.

  • Steve

    I expect the end result is something similar to Infra Red,either colour or B&W film.
    This can be achieved on a modern digital camera as long as the camera sees IR as often a blocking filter is present.
    I used to do IR with an old Pentax SLR with some stunning results.
    Now using a Fuji and a deep red filter to achieve the same results