Photos Created by Coating Negatives with Gasoline and Setting Them On Fire


Lisle, Illinois-based photographer Peter Hoffman‘s “Fox River Derivatives” project is a series of abstract photos that question mankind’s relationship with natural resources. The photographs have a strange purple bubbles and colorations across the surface that are the result of an interesting technique: these images are what you get when you burn your negatives.

After the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Hoffman has been playing with the concept of “Water and Oil.” His experiments have been centered on using water and fossil fuels in the photographic image-making process, incorporating those substances as important components in the photos that result.

Hoffman started out by photographing sections of Fox River, a 202-mile-long tributary of the Illinois River that passes through both rural areas and “suburban sprawl.” As he rode his bike up and and down the river, the photographer snapped various scenes using his medium format film camera.

Once the film was developed, Hoffman sprayed a layer of gasoline over the negatives, put them in a puddle of gasoline, and set them ablaze by throwing a match into the mix. After a short period of burning, Hoffman stopped the process by pouring water onto the negatives.

The photographs in this post are what resulted from this trial-and-error process after the negatives were printed.













You can find more photos from this project in a higher-resolution over on Hoffman’s website.

Fox River Derivatives by Peter Hoffman (via Feature Shoot via Photojojo)

Image credits: Photographs by Peter Hoffman and used with permission

  • Norshan Nusi

    Is this still photography? The gasoline does more of the effects! Overshadowing the actual picture!

  • monteraz

    If you smoke it at the same time I presume the pictures must look awesome and you get the “mankind’s relationship with natural resources” stuff or whatever. Unfortunately I left my gasoline drum at home.

  • Oh_Lucille

    Photography is based on experimental methods. I suggest digging into some alternative practices at some point and having some fun with it all. Try some 35mm film in a 120 Holga, destroy a few negatives by burning them, draw on them with markers, print on aluminum foil – allow yourself some play time.
    I love Hoffman’s concept and the images are gorgeous.

  • Fra Lippi

    The images are interesting, but let’s be clear. The photographs are not questioning mankind’s relationship with natural resources. It’s the photographer who’s doing the questioning. This may seem like splitting hairs. But remove the text and you wouldn’t know what message the images are trying to convey. The photographer is using the medium to push a certain message. But can the images stand on their own and interest the viewer? In this case I think they can.

  • briscophoto

    I like seeing inspirational photo projects on PetaPixel, but the project in the post above ain’t one of them.

  • Michael

    What a waste of time, money and material.

  • Alan Dove

    He should drive a Plymouth over the negatives before igniting them. Then he could call the technique “Dodge and burn.”

  • DamianM

    I agree with it to not being photography but obviously used photography as a base of the art piece. I dont like it though.

  • chubbs

    A superb foray into using diverse elements, adding a random flavor to the medium. Good on you!!!

  • Thomas Hawk

    Wonderful and creative work! Keep going in this direction! Love it!

  • Norshan Nusi

    I see…

  • John Kantor

    I’m pretty sure you’d get some interesting shots if you did that to photographers too.

  • Philip Han
  • Ric Szczepkowski

    i guess you need to do something with all those old reject negatives.

  • Alex

    You don’t like to think about these sorts of things?

  • alex

    exploring an idea (what artists do) is a waste of time, money and material?

  • Nathan Caulford

    Just think… with nitrate film you wouldn’t even need gasoline!