I thought I knew pretty well every technique there is in photography ... bleach bypass, solarization, lomography, cross processing, HDR ...

I was wrong.

I've just stumbled across 'redscale' photography (also known as 'redbird', apparently).

This is a technique used in film cameras, where the film is exposed the wrong way around. In other words, it is used inside out.

For those of my readers who are unfamiliar with it, photographic film consists of a light-sensitive emulsion bonded to an acetate base. Normally the film is wound through the camera with the emulsion on the side of the film facing the lens, so that the light falls directly on to it.

In redscale photography the film is reversed - a bit of a complicated procedure - so that the emulsion is on the side away from the lens and the light only reaches it after passing through the acetate base.

Because of the way in which the different colour-sensitive layers of the emulsion are arranged, this causes a very strong red-shift.

The result is ...

Why on earth would anyone want to do this?

It's all part of the lo-fi photography movement, which is a reaction to the apparent ease of taking technically perfect images nowadays. With modern cameras you can get an exact representation of a scene - pin-sharp, colour perfect, undistorted - with the push of a button.

Reversing the film, using old Russian cameras such as the LOMO (a camera that smelt strongly of machine oil), altering or omitting steps in the film processing, or replacing your expensive lens with a piece of pierced cooking foil, all give unexpected, unusual and sometimes highly graphic results.

It's one of the reasons why I dabble in pinhole photography.

Of course, you could do all this stuff digitally if you wanted.

But that's not really the point, is it?

A word in your ear

Usually I don't like photographs where the majority of the image is out of focus - they just look like mistakes.

But every now and again one works.

I was experimenting, trying to set up an image which said something like couch potato when I caught this one:

It doesn't say 'couch potato' to me, but it says something else. I'm intrigued by the way the kid on the television seems to be speaking into my ear, as if asking me not to turn him off.

If there's one thing I regret about the image, it's that the background on the TV is dark. It would have worked much better had it been a lighter shade. As it is, there is not enough contrast between the zapper and its background.

However, the upside is that it seems to the sort of image you have to look at for a moment to work out what's going on. It doesn't immediately reveal its meaning to the viewer like a chocolate-boxy landscape, bundle of cute kittens or a bouquet of flowers does (do they have 'meaning'?).

Incidentally, I use myself as a model a lot. It's much cheaper and less hassles with model releases. I just need to be creative with remote releases or the delayed-action timer.