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Karl Bailey preserves history via baking and cross processing film

Karl Bailey's vivid tones in some of his photos come from him literally baking his film in the oven. He also experiments with Xpro, which produces amazing colors. His love of authenticity fuels his experimentation with analog.

"I am a 27 year old photographer living on the southcoast of England. I take photos of things that I think look nice, something which may have escaped the gaze of thousands of people in it's life time. Through my work I try to record places and memories of past and present to ensure that through the physical medium of film photography that they will never be forgotten. I want to be able to tell stories with my photos but I also want my photos to speak their own words. In the future, I hope to expand and evolve my body of work through travel and life's experiences. Every day is a new story."

ALTER/ANALOG: You baked your film for the last 2 images! Can you spill your recipe or is that a secret?

KB: 100 ISO film (always use low ISO film for baking) on low heat in the oven (50 degrees) for 10 minutes. You can go longer if you're feeling brave but I wouldn’t push it past 15 minutes. After 10 minutes the leader will have curled; you can let the roll cool with the oven door shut or closed. The roll may be melted a bit around the top but it shouldn't affect function. Though it's all a matter of experimenting and seeing what you like from the results.

ALTER/ANALOG: What film did you use for your cross processed images? They colors came out so vivid!

KB: Fuji Velvia 50 Slide Film which was expired (not sure on the date) shot on an Olympus AF-1. I've just bought a handful of different expired slide film to do some more work with it. The plan now is to shoot some double exposures and then cross process in the development stage.

ALTER/ANALOG: What inspired you as a photographer?

KB: I have a deep fear of the idea that something can just be forgotten or lost in the memories of people who never had the chance to share or record them. This drives me to commit moments in time to eternity, to preserve and archive pieces of history both past and present. There is a beauty in looking at old photographs, and I hope the people of the future look back at the photos we’re taking now in the same way we currently look at the photographs taken over the last century: with fascination and a desire to learn.

ALTER/ANALOG: In the age of digital, why did you take up film?

KB: I first shot film during a photography course ten years ago. The college loaned me a Minolta SLR and taught me the darkroom process. After that, from the ages of 19-23 I shot purely on a DSLR doing wedding, commercial and events photography. I also photographed a lot during my teenage years, but back then we never had any kind of iCloud storage or internet-based back up. Everything was manually moved from phone to hard drive, and over years of changing computers I lost hundreds of photos through pure error.

It's a bit harder for that to happen nowadays, but the move to shooting film this time last year was an easy one. I wanted a creative outlet, something methodical in its process, something I could use to preserve a piece of history and something physical that will never be lost in our ever increasing digital world. Shooting analog forces me to be critical about choosing my shots and ensuring the right composition and settings. Digital has its benefits (even to me at times) but it's too easy to walk away with a couple hundred sub-par shots rather than 36 good ones. I also hate the over-processed skyscape/landscape shots that appear to be the staple photo of someone who calls themselves a 'photographer'. For me it's about keeping it real, and although processes like baking your film perhaps explores an analog version of post process, I am not trying to make it out to be something that it's not. By shooting film I pay tribute to keeping the process as close to its original form as possible, and hopefully through my photos I will be able to encourage people to do the same.

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