My baby's back!!!

No my kids didn't go anywhere.  I got my baby back from her second overhaul and I have to say that there is something really wonderful about shooting film with a completely manual camera.   27 years old and she works like she was new.  

I have to say that I do love the digital age.  The technology has created opportunities that were not available, or were out of reach, in the film days.  What I see though is a tyranny of choice or an over reliance on the digital adjustments and the computer to make the final image.  We start to interact with the technology and futz with the image more than we interact with the world and see our subject.  Seeing the subject, creating a vision of the final image, and trust in your skills takes you out of focusing on the camera and places you with your subject.  For me, shooting film is an exercise in awareness training.  Because of the minimal nature of my camera, the most important tool is my eye and my mind.  

Intention and attention, am I focused on the camera operation, viewing the world through the screen on the back of the camera or am I out in the world with the subject.  A number of years ago I was attending a seminar held by a nationally recognize commercial photographer.  When asked by a participant what one thing could be done to improve the quality of their photography, he answered, “cover the back screen of the camera with black tape so you cant see it anymore.”

There was a short period of time, when we moved to digital cameras, where I stopped shooting film entirely.  When I picked up the film cameras again I realized that I was missing out on one of films greatest gifts…. Serendipity.  The chance to make a mistake that turns out to be a great success.   The more you eliminate the chance of mistakes or failures the more you limit your chances for success.  Now Im not talking about the game ending failures where you come away with nothing, those are not what I look for.  It’s those little ones that can create the most interesting possibilities and open doors to new ideas.  Digital in many ways encourages shaving off the rough edges, its those rough edges that makes the possibility of what we do interesting.

Pandemonium Run

Its that time of year when all good habits need to come back.  The kids are almost all back to school and this crazy upheaval of a summer comes to a close.   There is still summer left and I'm hoping that the reports of the tree's color changing in Michigan is greatly exaggerated.


A few images from the the work I did for the Villages of Orland Park and the Pandemonium Run a week ago Saturday.

The Paper Neg is Back

More playing with paper negs.... the texture in the photo is from the paper fibers in the negative. 

and Ry from earlier this summer.

Still workin on getting the wet plate going... its just taking time with the crazy summer schedule.

In The Moment

Being on vacation is always double edge sword.  I love the going away part but the getting out of town and (worse) the getting back in the swing of things is a killer.  It was a great time away with E and the kids, time to let the hair down, I take my fun seriously.

I also had fun working on being present and aware... its amazing how many times I go somewhere only to realize I'm not there, busy in the past or the future.  When you at Disney, there is so much to see if your looking.   Its one of the fun parts of photography, aware of my surroundings then using the camera to record how I see it.  Now, to plow through the all the images, here a few

Ready, Set, Attack!!!! Cyborg Mickynaughts away.  The digital wrist band that tracks you through the park combined with the finger prints scanner required to enter the park is a little disturbing.

Now to refocus.  I hope to have my wet plate gear and chems up and running by the end of next month.  A lot of work to put it together, but Im excited to start making some images with the process.  Other projects in the works, hope to share as they develop... no pun intended.

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Renee  commented on  June 29th, 2014

You raise a good point... We are often anywhere BUT the present moment. Even on vacation, I find myself thinking of my next task, or plan of attack. Thanks for the reminder to live in the present and capture each moment.

I found a new love

Yes..... Wet Plate just might be my new love.  It takes a lot longer to do that shooting with large format, I like slowing down.

I had a great time in Indy and a wonderful teacher, Dale Bernstein.  Dale has many years of experience in the process and showed some really beautiful work he created on black glass which has a very deep dimensional feel.   There was one other attendee for the class who is a professor of chemistry at University of Illinois and has been involved in the process for a few years now.  It was great to have him in the group, though the conversation between he and Dale sometimes went right past me due to my lack of experience in the process.  

One of the more fascinating aspects of the process is that the collodion is mostly sensitive to ultraviolet light.  This is challenging because the colors being photographed are rendered differently than with traditional panchromatic films.  Blue things, like the deep blue beads in the last image or blue eyes are rendered as light objects and the wood table I was photographing on absorbed UV light.  Also, light meters don't work for determining exposure.  When I asked Dale how you figure the exposures he said “Years of experience”.  Well here we go, I got years,… I hope.  The exposures for the images here were between 10 and 16 seconds with the lenses wide open.

My next step is to start putting the pieces together.  I have a camera and lenses but the rest has to be built from the ground up.  This includes a plate holder for the camera, developing equipment, and the chemistry (which I will mix myself).  Oh and clearance from the lady of the house to have the chemistry in the house.  Remember, this process is from the 1850’s - how safe do you think chemistry was back then?  

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Neil Schierstedt  commented on  June 11th, 2014

Nice work...... a technique that is needed to be kept alive. Digital can't do everything.

Categorized In: | collodion | wet plate

My First One...

Yippeee, I did it

a few more from today.  The in studio coating and developemnt tent.

What happens when you get some collodeon on you... It turns brown when you go out in the sun, its going to be with me for a while.

Heading to Indy.

I know that bragging that I'm going to Indy is not what most people would envy.  But I’m excited as all get out!!!!  

I'm heading off to take a two day workshop on Wet Plate Collodion Photography.  This is a process that was developed by  Frederick Scott Archer in 1851 and uses a glass or metal plate as the negative and is hand coated just prior to photographing.  The photography and development must also be done while the plate is still wet.  Mathew Brady used this method during the Civil War but also use Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes.

I'm hopping to have some sample work from the workshop to show you next week.

The image below is closer to a Calotype which was developed by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1835.  Of course Renee is not that old, I made this photograph of her last week.