Overlapping Images with a Film Camera

With a manual-wind film camera, you have the potential for some overlapping images. Just what are overlapping images, why do they happen, and are these a good or bad thing?

First, let’s start with the basics. Film inside your film camera is one long roll of blank film. There are no “spots” on the film where images are supposed to go. It is an unbroken light-sensitive concoction of plastic and chemicals.

With an automatic winding camera, the camera makes sure that each image goes into its own untouched area. You take a photo, and the camera moves forward to the next pristine area of film so your next image is perfect.

The result is that each image is laid down with a bit of white space buffer on either side of it. Sort of like this.

However, with a MANUAL winding camera, like the Holga, things get a little tricker. They get more fun and creative. I suppose it also means that you have the potential to ruin a perfect shot opportunity. That is because YOU are in charge of winding the film to that next available area. If you don’t wind far enough, the image you took previously overlaps with the image you are taking now.

See how the first image overlaps slightly with the second image? This is because I did not wind fully enough turns. I stopped short. And therefore the second image partially landed on top of the first image. It created this result.

When an overlap occurs, generally the lighter area wins. That’s because light coming in to the camera will cause that area to expose. It’s the light that impacts the image. So if you have one area which is very bright, it will brighten that area. The dark that used to be there will get brightened up.

In some cases this situation can be a mistake. You can have overlaps on two different images which means you lose information in both images. However, there are times where you can make some very cool effects by doing this. For example, you can make a panorama image by overlapping the edges of photos with each other.

So definitely give it a try! Get a sense of how much winding you need to do to get to the next image. See how the overlaps work. It can be a fun trick to add to your list!

Shooting Panoramas with a Holga

The overlapped image was taken with Lomography 120 film ISO 100 Color Negative by Lisa Shea. This film was developed by https://oldschoolphotolab.com/