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borut peterlin, slovenia, ambrotype, Portrait photography, Wet Plate Collodion, Analog Film photography

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The revival and the modernisation of woodburytype process – I DID IT!!!

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About a year ago I went to George Eastman House for a workshop of Carbon print process. To be honest before my arrival to Rochester, USA, I didn’t know what carbon print process is but if it was described as the king of all printing processes ever invented and I thought I might try it out. My main goal was to do the pilgrimage to George Eastman House and take a workshop under tutorship of Mark Osterman.

As I’ve expected the visit to GEH did blown my mind, I’ve seen original authentic prints of Julia Margaret Cameron, Eadweard Muybridge and many others. Mark Osterman shown us many gems of technical and aesthetic heritage from the history of photography. One of the things that stuck with me for the whole year was woodburytype process. Please take a look of the video at the bottom of this post, I’ve seen it so many times, I could repeat the words by heart!

Anyhow, down to the point, for the whole year I was thinking how to revive the woodburytype process. I have this vision to make my book in woodburytype process. The question why (almost) nobody (?) have done it in the last 120 years is obvious, it’s the most complicated process ever! For an 8×10″ print (20x25cm) you would need a press that would produce a pressure of about 500 tons per 8×10″ format! In 19th Century there were only two woodburytype presses in the world that were capable of making woodburytype prints size 8×10″.  I will not go into technical details, it’s beautifully explained in the video below.

When I told to Mark Osterman what is my vision, he advise me to stay away from authentic woodburytype process, but rather go for Stanotype process. What is Stanotype process I wondered? It’s another invention by Walter Bentley Woodbury (British, 1834–1885) with the same result, just it does not require those huge press to make a mold, that I’ve mentioned before. I’ve read everything I could about it, even Mark Osterman and Nick Brandreth were so kind to send me a digital copy of Stanotype manual written by Woodbury himself!

Last half a year I was working a lot. I knew that authentic Stanotype is not the answer, I knew I could modernize the process. And I did! On the images above are four (modernized) woodburytype prints and a carbon print on glass. The carbon print on glass has very little pigment and it’s made in a way to maximize the relief from which I’ve made a mold and from that mold I’ve made those prints.

Before you will make a judgement about my prints, let me explain that you need a press to achieve a good print from a woodburytype mold. The press that Mark Osterman is using in the video below. I don’t have one. At the moment I was just testing different materials and different processes. I’ve made one mold and today I was playing around with it. I didn’t had the press, so I’ve used these clamps, what’stheycalled. As you can tell I was speculating, changing parameters and the forth print is perfect! Well, it’s perfect, much better than I could ever thought in given circumstances! Because I was not using a press, but clamps, the pressure was not even, so the resulting print has patches of highlights and patches of black. But that doesn’t matter! What it matters is that I’ve made a modern woodburytype print from scratch and the result has blacks, it has highlights, it has contrast and it does have sharpness!!! I’ve learned all the crucial steps how to manipulate the process and created a modern woodburytype print!

I totally understand that perhaps you do not see anything special in these experiments of mine, but I’m just as excited as I was when I was 11 years old, learning photography with my dad’s russian Kiev camera, which light-meter was showing very wrong meterings, so every photograph that I took and I could recognize a motif being photographed, I considered a triumph!!! And that’s the case here! Perhaps you just see a bad print, but I see woodbury process revived and modernized, I see a printing house that will be the best printing house in the world and the first book printed in that printing house it will be my The Great Depression project. I even see an option how to do woodburytype prints from a digital file and furthermore in color and that is why in a month or so I’m flying back to Rochester to bring my modern woodburytype molds and compare them with authentic woodburytype molds from 19th Century.

Oh, I’m so happy, my buttocks are applauding!

PS: It’s too early for explaining how I’ve made the mold. I have to nail down the process entirely and finish with testing. I have three more concepts to test how to make a mold and then pick the best one. This was my first attempt.

PPS: I’m sure there are few individuals who are still doing woodburytype nowadays, but beside Oliver Barret, whose book was a help and inspiration in my research, I haven’t found anybody who would nowadays produce woodburytype kind of quality images. If you could help me finding other contemporary woodburytypes, I would be greatful.

Written by Borut Peterlin

29 October, 2014 at 01:19

A monster tree with a swing! Photographed in wet plate collodion and printed in carbon print and albumen print

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With my daughters at ArtMarket Budapest with my photographs in the back.

With my daughters at ArtMarket Budapest with my photographs in the back.

Here is a new video. It’s pretty long, 10 minutes, I went through few times and edited out as much as I could to make it shorter, but there is quite a lot of information included, so I hope you will find it worthy of your time.  The prints I’ve made I’m not putting them on ebay auction, since last two auctions didn’t went that well, to be honest. Plus last week my work was being presented at ArtMarket Budapest, an international art fair, by Photon Gallery. I am on the right path, my work received good attention, I’ve met some very important curators and collectors and I’ve realized that all I need at this time is just a little more patience and I reckon one more year to catch up with boys & girls from the first art league. I know I will get there, but I’m not there quite yet. I will stop with Ebay auctions for now. The prints are still on sale, of course just send me an email of inquiry CLICK.
Music by Robert Jukič

The spirit of pioneers can not be outsourced!

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This is dried casein protein which I’ve extracted from milk (link to the tutorial) might be a solution in my research of modernizing woodburytype process. As a digital photographer you never think that you could improve the process, you only can wait for the next new camera model from Japan, because we are foremost consumers! Whereas if you make everything by yourself, you start experimenting alternative ways to achieve better photography process! The pioneer’s spirit of photography is alive, it’s still alive and on top of everything, it can never be outsourced!!!

Written by Borut Peterlin

17 October, 2014 at 10:10

Corn fields of my childhood (wet plate collodion, carbon print process)

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I grew up in this valley and every September I loved to photograph corn fields. It’s something elegant and tranquil in a field of corn. It was a sunny afternoon and I had three plates ready and subbed with albumen, so I give it a go. The negative was done in the first attempt and although the density was not as thick as it could be, due to loosing quite a lot of developer (containing silver), but that was easily compensated by the second development after fixing, the redevelopment. I just had to redevelop longer, increasing the layer of silver and busting the contrast.

Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.34.49Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.36.12Here are two beautiful prints, I hope you will like them and as it is a tradition on this blog, I’m putting these two prints on ebay auction, starting from 0,99 US$. The auction will end in three days, because I’ve learned that my customers are readers of this blog and it doesn’t matter if the auction is listed for a week or only for few days. As a professional artist (and a father of two daughters) I need to sell my work or get a “proper” job, so thus the aggressive promotion. Things are going good, great, much better than I’ve expected.

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This week Art Photo Budapest fair is happening and this fair is the only international fair in Eastern Europe dedicated to art photography. Gallery Photon is presenting me in a very generous way. I’ve been told that this event is a milestone in my career. Tomorrow at 3pm I was invited in the panel to discuss art market in East Europe. As one of my presented cases it will be also this blog and my experience with ebay auctions.

I have this feeling that I’m on the right track and although I know I will not do these ebay auctions forever, it’s a brilliant marketing tool!

733_01_borut_peterlinMartin Parr gave me the best advice ever! Do whatever you do and keep on doing it until people could not afford to ignore you any longer!
…COULD NOT IGNORE YOU ANY LONGER!

Isn’t that a brilliant advice? We artists have a very long history of being ignored and some of us even cut their ear off! Well I’m not cutting my ear or getting a “real job”. I enjoy what I do and thank you for all the attention. It truly helps to know that people have a harder and harder times to keep on ignoring me!

PS: My email box if stacked with questions about the processes I’m doing. I’ve answered some, but most of them I just can’t. SORRY! Please write the question here, as a comment and I will do much better job clarifying some details of the process. You can write a question anonymously, no problem.

A carbon print , format 10x12" (25x30cm) in a mat, size 40x50cm (16"x20"). Edition 1/12.

A carbon print , format 10×12″ (25x30cm) in a mat, size 40x50cm (16″x20″). Edition 1/12.

An albumen print toned with gold, format 10x12" (25x30cm) in a mat format 40x50cm (16"x20"). Edition 2/12.

An albumen print toned with gold, format 10×12″ (25x30cm) in a mat format 40x50cm (16″x20″). Edition 2/12.


Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.20.52

Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.20.39

A presentation of an ambrotype for an art fair

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An ambrotype packed in a box for Art Photo Budapest. The plates is from my project The Great Depression. The plates will be represented by Photon Gallery. Hopefully they will be sold.

An ambrotype packed in a box for Art Photo Budapest. The plates is from my project The Great Depression. The plates will be represented by Photon Gallery. Hopefully they will be sold.

Next week there will be an art fair in Budapest and my work will be presented by Gallery Photon. I was thinking how should I present my ambrotypes in a way that could be purchased. So here it is. The box is from Hahnemuhle acid free material. On 11th of October 2014 I will be a guest of a discussion panel how to survive as an artist. Guess what will I talk about? YOU! My topshit followers that is bidding on my ebay auctions. See you in Budapest on Saturday at 3pm!

New plates from The Great Depression series

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Screenshot 2014-09-30 13.52.30


Last week I was again working on my project The Great Depression. This time was a bit different motivation. I wasn’t looking for new motives, but I was repeating shots I’ve done before. At the moment all my plates are exhibited in Lithuania at Kaunas Photo Festival, but two galleries asked me if I can exhibit The Great Depression plates, The Gallery of Contemporary Art in Celje and almost at the same time, Photon Gallery wants to exhibit my plates at ArtMarket Budapest.

What to do, what to do… No problem, I went again to Novoles company where I started my project almost three years ago and repeat few frames that I took in the past. Surprise, surprise my wet plate knowledge advanced and I’ve made such a beautiful plates, I can not believe it! Well, here they are, you be the judge of them.

Today when I was varnishing them, I’ve received an email from a very important museum, that I can not name just yet, that they want to buy few plates from the project for their permanent collection. YES! After all the hard work and I’m finally beyond the tipping point! Mom, I’ve made it!!!

Great Depression 1912-13 Great Depression 1912-13 Great Depression 1912-13

Video about split toning with sulfide and selenium toner

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Ciao tutti,
As I’ve announced last week, I’m going to publish more videos about my workflow and list more prints on ebay. It takes so much work to do a video, make a print, edit the video and everything that comes along. It took me the whole week to do this video and that’s why I’m listing three prints. Perhaps the price will not reach as high as it would if I would sell only one print, but I am a professional collodion artist and I will try to make a living out of this! Plus my storage room has about half a ton of prints in boxes. I know, because I was moving it recently and it was too heavy for a car transport. I’m printing since age 11, so in 29 years you can imagine how many boxes piled up.

Anyway, here are new prints. I’ve explained everything on video. I want to add that this split toning technique I’ve learned from Mark Osterman and he is the best address if you want to dive into alternative photography. And oh, you must check this out, George Eastman House published their program of workshops for year 2015! I’m going to take at least two of them!

One last, but very important note. I’ve you’ve seen this video after the auction is finished and you would want to buy a print from me, check my EBAY SHOP or if you want to buy that exact print, copy number 5, you certainly can, just send me an email. As a professional collodion artist I have a motto:

EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE, EXCEPT MY KIDNEY!
(officially)

Ebay listings:
Edition 2/12, a silver gelatin photograph, from a wet plate collodion

Edition 3/12, a silver gelatin photograph, from a wet plate collodion negative

Edition 4/12, a silver gelatin photograph, from a wet plate collodion negative
Ebay Shop / Borut Peterlin

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