This is a very quick photo project from a quick trip that I took today.

My film cameras have been sitting for a while; I haven't had the time and space to finish a roll or develop film. So instead I'm exploring low-fidelity photography through black and white in-camera double exposures. Thoughts on that after the photos.

Untitled photo

Starting out on the streetcar, we've just pulled out of St Clair station.

Picking up more passengers. "Coming Soon - Spring 2022". I know how you feel, little sign; I know how you feel.

Off the streetcar their underground St Clair West platform, down the stairs and through all the doors to catch a train.

Untitled photo

I'll take the next one.

Off and on and off again. This time it's only a one-stop trip.

Untitled photo

Please Hold Handrail. Multiple exposures can't replace long exposures here, but I still can't resist.

I have a text file of quotations that I read for inspiration and guidance. The one I was looking for here is:

I shared some of my 35mm photography, expressing my dissatisfaction with my attempts. These images looked just like my subject and that had seemed pointless to me.

(Sharon Harris)

And while looking for that one, I found another along the same lines that has been informing my thinking recently:

Take photos that are about things, not of things.

And I've also been thinking about minimalist art – in La Monte Young's terms, art created with a minimum of means, and in the general sense, of art that's just about itself, with the minimal amount of inherent art-ness – something that we wouldn't recognize as art unless someone tells us that it is, and then isn't anything other than what it is.

This is what I aspire to, generally speaking, these days.

Think about it for a moment.

If you see a gilded frame around a painted canvas, it's recognizable as an art-thing, whether it's on a gallery wall or leaning up against a dumpster. The same cannot be said for a paint-splattered square of plywood. On a gallery wall it's minimalist art, art because someone trustworthy said that it's worth our consideration. Beside the dumpster it's construction waste – but potentially just as interesting. Or as not-interesting. Like Steven Shore said: context changes content.

Photography is as much an act of gatekeeping as curating an art gallery. To show a photo is to take something and present it for consideration; the photographer is trusting that the viewer will see value in it, and the viewer is trusting the photographer to work with discernment.

It’s a challenge to look at the obvious and see something more. Not every common object will rise up off the page just because you take its picture.

(Michael Levin)

So, to sum up:

Photos that record a response, or an experience, not record shots.

Photos of things that don't just look like the thing that was photographed.

Photos created with minimal means, including camera, technique, and fuss.

Photos that stand on their own, without needing to be about something more.

That beautiful landscape photo where the mountain is reflecting in the lake – you know the one, you've seen it – is about the mountain and the lake, no matter what skill and talent the photographer brings to it. Same with that one of the flower. That's great if it's your thing. I've tried to take those myself, and haven't been able to pull them off.

So here I am instead. If I can pull off a photo that's just a photo, about how I experience a thing that's just a thing — or maybe not even that — I'll be happy for it. (Or, more likely, quietly content about it.)

Untitled photo

Because this post has already gotten away from me and has gone on too long without a photo, here's a paint-splattered piece of plywood.

I was going to throw it out. Now I'm not sure.

And after all that, I still haven't specifically mentioned what I said I would talk about: digital double exposures.

My Convolution project is multiple exposures taken without reference to what has been recorded before. I have to trust my own reflexive subject selection for consistency and trust in Eris that its arrangement will work out. The Difference Between is created from three sequential exposures through a pinhole, where I have some idea how it might work, but no ability to visualize the composition. This shouldn't work, but does surprisingly well surprisingly often. It's paradoxical that I consider this lack of control to make it more artistically pure, as if that's a thing and it matters, but I do.

A digital in-camera multiple exposure ("multi-DIC" for short) adds the ability to see and fine-tune the process, and removes the commitment cost of using film. Compose the overlay for as long as you need. Don't like the results? Take the last shot again. Still didn't work? Move on, no big deal. Capitalism tells us that something that's low-risk should also be low-reward, so maybe that's why I hold this method to be less meritorious, even if it's only the results that matter.

And what about those results? My approach to studio / commercial photography is that the more control I have, the more demanding I should be about the results. So in theory multi-DICs should be more polished, more optimized, just plain better, than with film.

These… aren't.

The Fuji XF10 that I'm using will only let me layer two photos, and its screen quality is a de facto limit on my compositional ability. Could I take more care, more time, and produce clinically-better results? Of course. But that's not this, either. My favourite photo from this set is the one I took as I was walking toward-then-through the doors, and both exposures were no-look shots from the hip. It's a photo taken with minimal means that's about a thing, not of the thing, and to me it feels like the experience of being there. Outside of this set it would be nothing. Inside its context it rings true.

I should examine some of my prejudices and assumptions, because valuing film over digital isn't an isolated thing. I don't treat phone-photos as seriously, or appreciate them as much, as I do from "real" cameras regardless of their appeal. But I'm also a hypocrite, or at least self-serving, because I don't appreciate a photo more if it's done with a More Serious Camera than what I choose to use / afford.

Using an iPhone Pro Max Ultra? Too easy, to ubiquitous, too frivolous. Using a Hasselblad MF Digital? Of course they're going to be good, where's the accomplishment? Sort of like how every driver on the road is either a jerk or an idiot – jerks are travelling slower than me, and idiots are going faster. Or vice-versa.

So I use bad cameras casually, and good cameras badly.

Figuring this out, and getting over it, seems like it might be important. If nothing else, it will give me a sense of why I prefer the tools and their creations in the way that I do.