Distortions
 
Nude (easel trick and plastic lens), c.1953-6
"Weegee's Women," Showplace [First Edition] (July 1956)

Marilyn Monroe (plastic lens), c. 1960
Weegee began to produce a series of distorted photographs, based on the lens he had devised for his 1948 film Weegee's New York, and from his experiments begun in the Acme darkrooms.

There were three basic methods Weegee used to create these distortions. Weegee's first experiments were made by placing a textured or curved glass or other translucent material between the enlarger lends and the photographic paper. This effect would alter the image of the negative to varying degrees depending on the density pattern, or texture of the material he used. He also tried manipulating or mutilating copy negatives by placing them in boiling water, or melting them with an open flame. The third method he employed involved making multiple exposures from the same or various negatives. Given his darkroom talent, he sometimes combined these techniques. Weegee later added a system by which he would affix a kaleidoscope to the end of the camera lens, or use it to replace the camera lens, letting the refractive designs multiply what the camera would have recorded as a single image. From this period until his death, Weegee concentrated on what he alternately called his "distortions," "caricatures," "creative photography," or most often, his "art."

Photographic images 1994, International Center of Photography, New York, Bequest of Wilma Wilcox.
Text 1997 International Center of Photography, from Weegee's World by Miles Barth, A Bulfinch Press Book, Little, Brown and Company. All rights reserve