Vintage: Dramatic self portait 1989

Inside out sweats and ratty sneakers. It was 1989 man!

The entire year of 1989 I was always trying new things with my camera and flash. This particular night I did a triple exposure in the garage.

In 1989 my high school eyes saw how cool it was to have a triple exposure to show off to my friends. 21 years later I see so much more. I see clues to memories and stories.

The bench behind the left exposure was removed from our 1976 Dodge Maxivan that was both our family vehicle and my personal Recreational Vehicle. A great photograph of the Van is here. My buddy Brent and I had removed it earlier to create some clear floorspace for our “spotlighting” hunting trips.

“Spotlighting” is a repulsive activity. We’d drive out in the desert south of Boise at night with a bunch of spotlights (hence the name spotlighting) and drive along tank roads scanning the desert for eyes looking back at us. When we’d see the glint of eyeballs, everyone unloaded their .22’s at the innocent varmit. We loved it then, but it makes me sick to think about it now.

The walls in the garage are speckled with dark spots. Those are from the evening when Brent and I spent hours photographing an exploding egg. How did we “expode” an egg? It’s simple really, you just set it on a short table and shoot it with a .22 rifle. I was about 6 inches from the exploding egg with my camera, trained on the sound of the rifle.  It seemed normal at the time.

The hose on the wall to the right was my Dad’s point of organization in the garage. With 8 children in the household he had his simple vestiges of order scattered here and there. The hose is one of them. The hose is also a practical way to keep the basement from flooding. If a child were to turn the water on and wander off then…flood. It’s unlikely that one of the children could have the patience and dexterity requred to remove the hose from the garage and hook it up correctly to the hose bib outside.

Why was I wearing inside out sweats? It was 1989 man!


Photo tips, philosophical information and technical information

I borrowed Brent’s Dad’s tripod for this and many other shoots (including the exploding egg shot).

To make this exposure you have to set the camera a f8 and shoot 1.5 stops less than f8. That is f4.5. The camera is set at 1/60th f8. The flash is set at f4.5. Three flash pops at f4.5 equals f8.

It took me nearly an hour to figure that out using Ansel Adam’s book Artificial lighting. I bought it at a garage sale, along with a king sized waterbed. (another story)

-Jon Ball is a photographer living in Boise Idaho. Thank you for reading photo tips.


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