Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lightleaks...You can screw up your film on purpose!

You can also create lightleaks on film after you have shot the roll (or, theoretically, before, but I haven't tried this). When you see really strong, overpowering lightleaks, chances are it's not the camera, but the handling of the film. This can occur as you pull the film out of the camera if the film is loose on the roll, exposing the edges to light...or you can leak up your roll manually. To do so, you want to make sure the film isn't rolled tight. It doesn't have to be really loose, though the more loose it is, the larger the leak, typically. What I do is squeeze the loose roll and hold it up to a light.

You can do this as many times as you want, to both ends, for as long as you want, depending on how much leakage you want. And it really is a crapshoot. I've leaked the film for what seems like minutes, to find almost no leaking, and flashed a roll for a millisecond and ruined the roll.

Leaks are pretty much completely random, and you pretty much just have to hope for the best:

...and expect to lose your image quite often:

One of the niftier effects of leaking film is the burning of numbers, images and text from the paper backing:

These waves were actually from rerolling new film with really old paper backing.

Again, this is completely random. You kind of have to not take things so seriously to do this. If you think you have a one-of-a-kind, this will never happen again shot, you may not want to chance ruining it by leaking your film. It definitely requires a "jump in head first" attitude. You will have plenty of photos like this Fujipet shot, where the leaks are cool, but add absolutely nothing the image, other than to make it messy:

So it requires a bit of the random nature of whatever. I go through phases where I leak everything, then I don't intentionally leak anything. People tend to like leaks, or they hate them (kind of a toycam attitude, actually...some people think crappy cameras are just...crap). They really can make the photo, but I don't think you should rely on them to make bad photos good. I see a million photos on flickr that look like, "Hey, here are a bunch of pictures of my backyard, but look at the cool lightleaks!" You need a decent shot underneath the leaks to make a great photo that has leaks. Though a potentially boring shot can sometimes be made lovely with the perfect leak. This shot is a combo of natural and artificial leaking...

So give it a try! And don't be afraid to destroy all that you love to achieve a perfect leaked shot. Well, maybe not all that you love...just your small pets and youngest child.
kidding. I'm a kidder. I kid. Take the leap! Take a great roll of photos and then don't be afraid to ruin it! That's part of the fun of toy cameras...the unpredictability of it all.

I'll talk about lightleaks and Polaroids another day. True leaks? Mmmmm...could be (so said Bugs Bunny).


  1. Anonymous4:55 PM

    Great info, great images, fantastic work on this leaky tutorial!

  2. Anonymous5:36 AM

    Leak on bro