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

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

From my exhibition in Pula, Croatia, with love ;-)

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The video and about the show photographs done by Markele Zid

Last few weeks too much stuff happened. But let me share them on my blog chronologically. On 13th of February I’ve opened a solo show in Slovenian Association Club in Pula, Croatia and it will be open for a month time. On the show I’m exhibiting 39 pieces of my series Family Album. With resources that I had, I was using different kinds of frames, so I conceived the show in a dynamic manner. Different walls, different frames, different emotions,…

A selfportrait with my daughters. Done in wet plate collodion negative, format 8x10". Assistant Markele Zid

A selfportrait with my daughters. Done in wet plate collodion negative, format 8×10″. Assistant Markele Zid

Yesterday I’ve made a great self-portrait with my daughters. Do you know the story of Janus? Wiki: In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus (Latin: Ianus, pronounced [ˈiaː.nus]) is the god of beginnings and transitions,[1] thence also of gates, doors, passages, endings and time.

Printing at midnight and toning under selenium moon

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Today I wanted to go early to bed. I had exhausting two weeks behind me, so I took my ipad and on youtube I searched for Paul Strand. I am a fan of his work, who isn’t, but I was not familiar with his life story. I was deeply moved with the part when he was almost blind and was asking his wife to focus enlarger and describe him what is she seeing. I remembered that when I was in secondary school I was dreaming that once I will have a darkroom and I will not have to negotiate with my mother when can I occupy our bathroom, I will get up and make a print for the fun of it! I remember the feeling how cool will that be!
It was 10pm and I did just that! I went to make a print. Here it is. It’s for my next exhibition of Family Album in Pula, Croatia, on 13th of February. I read somewhere that Ansel Adams was fixing his prints with plain hypo (sodium thiosulfate) fixer, because this plain fix is not hardening emulsion and also it does not contain acids on the contrary to rapid fixers. Selenium toner needs alcaic solution to work best.
I’m really pleased with the tone and the effect of selenium toner. It gives more cooler tone and intensify blacks. The contrast on the reference test print is 0.5 grade, but for the final print I’ve increased it to 1.0 grade. I was using Ilford multigrade paper.

Written by Borut Peterlin

26 January, 2014 at 02:32

Sunday is a good and dry collodion day

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A scan of a dry collodion negative. Exposure 25 minutes at f/5.6.  (I could make it faster by 1.5 f stop)

A scan of a dry collodion negative. Exposure 25 minutes at f/5.6.
(I could make it faster by 1.5 f stop)

Today it was Sunday. It still is, but concerning the the speed of my writing it will take me two hours and it will be past midnight. Again… So where to start. Basically I’m using this free time that I have during holidays for researching processes, equipment and aesthetic. Very soon I’m planning to go to Bosnia for a test shoot on a new project I’m preparing. In 2015 there will be 20th anniversary of the end of the war in Bosnia and I want to prepare an exhibition on the topic.

OK, let’s start with the new member of my family. Please read captions of my images, this post will be more in telegraphic style.

Charconnet Petzval:
I bought a petzval lens! Gasc & Charconnet Paris Vintage lens is less known and less expensive than Dallmeyer or Hermagis but it’s in the same quality range. Made in years around 1860′s. So now I’m playing around, see what the baby have to offer. Please read the captions and you’ll see what images are done with the lens. Most of them.

Carbon Printing
I’m so much in love with carbon prints! it’s amazing! I love it.

Dry Preserved Collodion Negatives
As much as I love the idea of not carrying all the chemistry and a darkroom around, the dry collodion is not a shortcut. You spend ten times as much time to process one plate. Just developing of a single plate that I’ve shot today it took me literally an hour! That being said, it’s very useful tool to have in my assortiment of expression.

PS: That chopped down tree was cut by a beaver. It’s amazing, that this animals that are almost extinct are living literally in downtown of Dolenjske Toplice! Look carefully the last image, you’ll see that the beaver chewed whole trunk! So cool!

A photography project on fears and delights being a parent

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Dear topshit readers,
I’m awfully proud on the following book I’ve made. I’ve joined an excellent workshop with Klavdij Sluban. Klavdij Sluban is an extraordinary photographer and won so many prestigious photography awards. One of the most important award was certainly European Publishers Award 2009 and this year he was one of the juror for Leica Award 2013. It’s fortunate for us that his parents were Slovenians and although he was born in Paris, he spend his childhood in Slovenia, so he speaks fluently Slovenian (among other half a dozen languages). He made a generous offer to make a whole year lasting workshop and we would meet six weekends across the whole year. His only condition was not to advertise the workshop internationally, but invite only Slovenian photographers. Last week we had an opening of exhibition as the final stage of our workshop.

The presentation of my art zine and a single photograph at Gallery Simulaker, Novo mesto, Slovenia

The presentation of my art zine and a single photograph at Gallery Simulaker, Novo mesto, Slovenia

The book I’m presenting is a fruit of collaboration at the workshop. I’ve learned hugely by just watching Klavdij going through images, picking one, the other, changing the order, putting it back on the pile and so on. We called it Sluban’s magic, because although sometimes images that were on the table were not impressive at all, but his selection of just say 8 images and juxtapositioning them in certain order, did made a huge difference. You can not understand if you don’t witness it. I’ve been at workshops with many many famous photographers, from Martin Parr, Duane Michals, Joel Peter Witkin and many others, but I haven’t seen anything like it. I knew from our first meeting that all I need to learn at the workshop is to tap on his frequency of thinking and the result is evident here in this book. Mark Osterman gave me a great comment. He loved that I used different camera formats (6×6, 4×5″, 8×10″) and also different processes (b&w film, wet plate collodion – ambrotype and wet plate negative) and I blended them all together in a book almost seamlessly. That’s Sluban’s magic, I tell you!

As I’m describing in the video I was aware that the story about the most beautiful children in the world is not enough. I shaped my concept around my fears and delights of being a parent. When I was a child, ten years old, I burned myself with a gasoline and almost died. When I became a parent I experienced fears for my children and one day I was strucked by a thought, what my parents had to go through at the time of my accident!

The book is on ebay (LINK) if you want a copy. If you want a print as well, I’ve just put two prints on ebay and link is listed below.

A link to the gallery of images on my website.

The book on ebay.

The print no.1 listed on ebay.

Print no.6 listed on ebay.

Portraying passion is back

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Sorry for not blogging for a while. You must understand me, I quit my job of photojournalist where I was working for almost 8 years and was working my ass off to provide income elsewhere. And proudly I must say I managed to find a job that is much better paid, so I’m sorted for next 12 months!

Nevertheless I miss weekly portraits assignments so if somebody is interested to be portrayed by my genius in the bottle, just rub my email address.

Few days ago I was playing around with negative wet plate process and I wanted to see if my month old albumen solution got bad and how does it reflect on the plate. It’s important to recognize an error and it’s pattern. Here are two results. I love them both. Not sure if because my daughters are on the pictures or do they have some attraction to you to?

Images that follow are cleaner. I was cleaning my plates with very diluted nitric acid and I doubt that there will be any effect, but it was. I got very clean plates. I also give it a try of Miša Keskenović receipt for a quickclear collodion. Miša started to modify a receipt from Eder and adjust it for quickclear usage. It is based on three salts, NH4I, CdI2 and CdBr2. It’s rich in iodides and very sharp, very contrasty, very thick. Actually it was too thick for this weather, so I got crepe lines. I love it :-) Obviously it’s not forgiving to work with the collodion, but it is rewarding when everything goes well. For more info read the description of an image.

Two good things about recession & Art

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My first 10×12″ wet plate collodion taken with Vageswari camera and lens Voigtlander 300mm f/4,5.

I’m working really hard these months. I know that December will be more easy going and that January will be dead month in commercial work, so I work literally triple jobs. Anyhow, I still take an hour here and there and make something for myself! I finally made my first 10×12″ (25x30cm) plate! It’s not that difficult at all! Actually it’s easier because a dust dot looks really really tiny, comparing to the same size dot on a 4×5″ plate. I’m really happy, a step forward! Actually this wetplate was a birthday gift from me to myself. I know… weird…

This are hard times if you want to make a living from art. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that nobody buys my art this days. I got frustrated, but then I realized that if nobody will buy my art and I need to fund it from my own pocket, I can make the art that I like and don’t care what others think! Ha, that’s really liberating. I thought I don’t care what others feel about my art, but that can’t be true, if I got frustrated because my art-work wasn’t funding it’s self. Nevertheless when I do commercial work I feel a strong motif, because I know I will fund my art with this commercial work!

Another good thing is also that I can forget big production costs and once again I can afford without a shame to be modest again! I mean few of my shows in London’s Host Gallery (link) and in Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana (link), costed a fortune and since I set the benchmark of presentation on quite a high level I got frustrated because I couldn’t afford to exhibit anymore!

Well now recession is here and I feel liberated! I don’t feel embarrassed anymore that I don’t have 2x3meters lambda prints mounted on dibond aluminum boards! I just blame it on the recession and not on my art-career failure, thank you very much!

I’ve made this print as a gift for my aunt. I’m a bit rusty, but I still can do a good print.

New level of my Wet Plate Collodion portraits

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Yesterday my family had a family lunch and a celebration of my father’s birthday, so I used this opportunity to make a new set of family portraits. Recently I reset and readjust my chemicals, so I was anxious to see how my pictures will turned out and here they are!

Technically I used Palubel 5×7″camera with Voigtlander Heliar 300mm f/4,5 lens at aperture 6,7 and illuminated by one flash burst of two flashes of joined power 2250Ws. Flashes were about 90cm away from the subject.

This plates along with others will be exhibited in Kulturni dom, Gorica in Italy. The opening will happen on 29th of September 2012. You’re invited.


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Homage to Paul Graham

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Paul Graham at the workshop in Fabrica in year 2000

Last week I was on a vacation and I’ve read a book review of newest project by Paul Graham at Aphotoeditor by Robert Haggart. I’ve first encountered Paul Graham’s work at an exhibition at Month of Photography in Bratislava, year 1994. It was an exhibition of New British Documentary Photography. When I was in Fabrica, Benetton’s communication research centre, year 2000, he had a two days workshop there. Until then I didn’t fancy his aesthetic, but I understood his topics and I loved his early works especially Beyond Caring and Troubled Land. His work you don’t understand on a first glance, it took me a while of reading and contemplation to get familiar with the idea that war photography can be done with medium format camera from far and it’s OK, that your pictures aren’t good enough because you’re not close enough.

While we had a workshop together he asked from us to go out and make pictures, that we wouldn’t otherwise, we were asked to make mistakes, rigorous technical and compositional mistakes. We went out and each of us shot a roll of film and I took it as a joke, throwing camera in the air and taking pictures with a timer on and of course nobody took an effort to look trough a viewfinder. And accordingly that’s how our pictures look like, a one big mess! Paul came along and start shuffling pictures and out of this mess of unsharp, blurry, over&under exposed pictures made a series that actually looked really cool! Then he was talking about possible connotations that this kind of aesthetic could be applied to. I was astonished! What a good workshop!

So when I read the book review that I’ve mentioned before I clicked through the book and as always it’s not on a first ball as we say it, but as all Graham’s projects it takes some time to get familiar with his new “invention” in photography. To be honest my belief was that diptychs, triptychs and other typtichs are for photographers who can not make a good picture, then they do some distracting maneuvers with juxtaposing several images together. In 99% it’s like that, if you ask me, or even more if the theme of the series is dealing with identity of a photographer (grow up!).

But, I’m also great fan of Duane Michals and his way of transcending an image with a sequence and Graham’s diptychs are sharing a some sort of rhythm that I like. Furthermore this is actually a street photography, a contemporary modern version street photography, that I adore. Robert Haagart wrote:

“But, inch by inch, I realized that the book’s locale is strictly allegorical. It could have been London, or Barcelona, or San Francisco, or almost any city on Earth. The title of the book is not “NYC,” it’s “The Present.” Mr. Graham is asking us to take him at his word, and look beyond the obvious.”

At the moment I was reading this I was at a vacation at the sea site in Nerezine, Croatia, so I wondered if it could have been NY, London, Barcelona, why not Nerezine as well? I took my camera and the very next day I’ve made a jackpot of an image that I’m publishing bellow. I’m continuing with the mining the concept…


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How to get a maximum swirl lens effect

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I was testing how to achieve maximum swirl effect. Open aperture, focus on a subject at a distance, objects at corners must be closer then subject in the center. And this works only with lenses that aren’t compromised by a mirror between lens and film. No single lens mirror reflex cameras in the club! Only view cameras, range-finder cameras and twin lens reflex! Taken with twin-lens Mamiya C330, 80mm, blue-dot series. Of course Petzval lens is the king of swirl effect :-)

PS: pardon, readers warned me, that some special lenses are doing beautiful swirl also for 35 SLR cameras. Like Russian Helios 40 85mm f/1.5 Lens
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Testiral sem kako bi poudaril swirl efekt, ko se na robovih slika začne rotacijsko pačiti. Recept je: popolnoma odprta zaslonka, subjekt mora biti relativno oddaljen, objekti ob robovih morajo biti bližje, kot subjekt v sredini. Aja, pa to deluje na pravih objektivih, ki niso kompromitirani z zrcalom med lečami in filmom. Se pravi zrcalnorefleksni aparati odpadejo, le mehovke, range-finder in pa dvooke kamere. Na fotografiji posneto z dvooko Mamiyo C330, 80mm, blue-dot serija. A seveda, Petzval objektiv je car swirl efekta.
PS: PArdon, bralci so me opozorili, da imajo tudi posebni objektivi za zrcalno refleksne kamere SWIRL efekt, kot je na primer Helios 40 85mm f/1.5 Lens.

Written by Borut Peterlin

2 September, 2012 at 15:37

Family summer time in 6×6 format

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Few days before with my family we left for summer vacation to a seaside I’ve bought a “new” camera Mamiya C330, so I was excited to try it out. I never liked the square format, as a student and as a young professional, but I guess it’s because square format was a trade mark of Hasselblad, that I couldn’t afford :-)

I looked at my bookshelf, thinking who is a master of square format photography. My first pick was Mary Ellen Mark and her book Indian Circus, then I checked The Hasselblad Masters awards. The Hasselblad awards didn’t inspire me (I can do better), but with Mary Ellen Mark I found some good clues how to deal with the square format.

I was thinking… Square is a stable, boring format and to make the image interesting I must brake this stableness with composition. My first rule was to fill the image with the subject all the way to the borders and even across the border. That was the idea for the picture published above and on the left side. OK, I admit, I didn’t discover America, but playing with concepts and aesthetics is inevitably leading us to new “discoveries” as I call personal micro revelations :-)

Second inspiration was the book On Photography by Susan Sontag. I’ve read it twice, but that was some time ago, so why not follow the Atheism 2.0 commandment to repeat the lessons over and over again. It’s the basis of every religion so it must make sense. While reading Sontag’s words on how photography is surreal, the most appropriate medium for modernistic art, I understood everything. World make sense if viewed through a lens of a camera.

Last but not least, this adventure back to black and white analog photography is bringing good old memories from Prague’s Famu Academy where I earned my BA in photography. I know I’m repeating some lessons from history of photography, but I don’t do it because of the love towards the history, but I’m doing it for the love of photography and to the love to my family. More of my Family Album project you can see on my site www.borutpeterlin.com.This is not the end result it’s just warming up! I’m inspired as Apollo 11 rocket!

PS: Under comment leave a link to a site of a photographer who work in an inventive way with a square medium format camera. I want to grasp as much info as I can.

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