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Today, we’re featuring a wonderful film swap project from film photographers Taylor Blanchard and Ron Smith. Ron shot a roll of 35mm b&w film in Detroit, and then mailed the film off to Taylor. Taylor shot the roll again in New York, creating a wonderful set of double exposures.
Scroll below to view the images and read more from Taylor and Ron about their blind doubles film swap.
Blind Doubles. That term alone is an exciting proposition. Scary, too, because you just don’t know what you’re going to get. When the idea for a film swap for blind double exposures was suggested in the Shoot it With Film Insiders Facebook group, I quickly added my name to the list wanting to push myself with new ideas and having a reason to go shoot a roll of film. I was paired with Taylor Blanchard, and after a couple of messages, we decided I would shoot first and send the roll to her to shoot over my images.
So, decisions had to be made. What camera and which film to use? I decided on a recently acquired Nikon F2 and a roll of Cinestill BWxx. Taylor and I agreed we wanted to use a black and white film stock, and since I had used this film before with great results, it was a go. Being a variable speed film, I decided to rate it at 200 ISO.
There are so many factors that come into play with shooting a roll of film and having someone else shoot it again. Frames lining up, camera orientation, subject matter, etc… are all random and unknown. Remember that term, Blind Doubles? Anything can happen and sometimes it can be magical.
I work a short distance from Downtown Detroit, and I often like to walk around Woodward Avenue trying my hand at street photography. There are so many opportunities for photos in a city. The architecture, people, and activities are endless. This is where I shot most of the roll.
I wound the film back being sure to listen for the leader coming off the take up reel, leaving it out so Taylor would have an easy time loading her camera. Little did I know she was shooting the roll in New York. Two cities, one roll! Our frames didn’t line up, and she shot different orientations, but that is where the magical part comes in. The images we made together were perfect and magical in their odd and unique ways. I found the overlapping frames and various orientations to be amazing and so interesting.
We hope you enjoy the photos we’ve shared here, one of a kind images created from the simple idea of Blind Doubles.
Shoot it With Film Insiders facilitated blind doubles film swap with someone in our cohort, and I was paired with Detroit-based photographer Ron Smith. Ron and I decided we wanted to shoot black and white – figuring many other pairs would shoot color. We didn’t discuss what we were shooting or coordinate on subject matter; Ron simply mailed me a roll of Cinestill XX (with the leader out, thank you Ron!) and told me he’d rated it at 200.
I live in Charlotte, N.C., and was traveling to New York, so I loaded the film into my Minolta Maxxum 7000 and rated it at 200. It was late spring/early summer, so the weather was nice, and the days were long. I walked from Penn Station to Hudson Yards and then down the High Line – taking photos of the magic of New York on a lovely day. I had no idea what to expect. When I returned home, I developed the film in Ilfotec DDX for 200 ISO, and was blown away when I saw the results. We’d taken photos of many of the same subjects – rows of chairs, buildings, street scenes, greenery, clocks.
Our doubles didn’t line up perfectly, and I flipped the camera orientation between portrait and horizontal, but that made for an even more perfect story. Rows of French bistro chairs in the Shed at Hudson yards? An upside down clock at the bottom of the Vessel? Women standing and chatting over larger than life beach chairs set up for a movie night? Skyscrapers in horizontal and vertical? Elevator buttons behind greenery? Yes to all of that.
The only downside: Now I’m worried if I try blind doubles again that the results won’t be as great!
One final note: I printed two of many of our favorites in the darkroom so that Ron and I could each have prints to remember the experiment.