Anton Podbevšek Teater will have tomorrow a premier of new theater show,
AMOR OMNIA VINCIT* and I’ve made digital documentation of the show, but I couldn’t resist not to take a snapshot in collodion technique of my friend Branko Jordan, one of the most prominent actor of his generation in this corner of the world. The plate has some fog, but concerning the timing and working condition I love it. In fact the fog, stains and everything else is just ideal for my taste!
For the promotion of theater shows I also developed a form of video teaser for Internet and social networks. It’s a mixture of video and photography, accompanied by a statement of the director followed with a scene from the show, to illustrate abstract words of the concept with an example from the show. This form of a teaser I perfected over two years and now I think it’s best that I could do. It also attract a lot of attention and popularize theater among iGeneration.
Blažka Müller Pograjc: AMOR OMNIA VINCIT*
Director: Matjaž Pograjc
Actors: Katarina Stegnar, Gorka Berden, Marijana Brecelj, Branko Jordan, Pavle Ravnohrib, Vito Weis in Enya Belak, Tamara Polanc, Kristina Rozman, Veronika Valdés
Produkcija: Anton Podbevšek Teater
Photography, video and editing: Borut Peterlin
Alenka Slavinec is my friend and colleague photographer, but she is also film producer. Lately she is fully engaged as an editor of Fashion Avenue Kuwait magazine. She is globe trotting all the time, but a week ago she called me and expressed that she would like to have a portrait in wet plate collodion, so she came to my house and on Sunday. All three portraits are ambrotypes format 8×10″. On the first plate I realized that although it was a bright day, green leaves were filtering all blue and UV light (that’s their job), so exposure was taking too long. Luckily in my past life I was an incarnation of a digital photographer and all expensive equipment is still in Da Houze, so I pulled out my Elektrona’s Flash Feeder and two studio flashes of joined power 2250Ws.
The second plate was perfect. Really perfect. Black dress is defined against black background and if you do ambrotype or tintype process, you know how contrasty this medium is. It has a dynamic range of a cat after a massive meal. Then we made another one and we went for a lunch at Kolesar restaurant. It was really cool Sunday.
Side note: I know how to do fashion photography, I’ve been assisting Oliviero Toscani (UC of Benetton) among other things, but the truth is I don’t have a talent for fashion – that’s fashion as how to dress and mostly (!) care how you are dressed, as is evident on behind the scene pics. Perhaps I’m making a mistake. Am I?
Shane Balkowitsch bought dozen gas masks and shipped them to artists around the world with only one task, to make a wet plate collodion image with the mask. In a year or so the masks circled the globe and few weeks ago came knocking at my door. Yesterday I’ve made the image I wanted. It’s inspired by Röyksopp’s video spot What Else Is There. I wanted to get a haunted kind of dreamy creature. I ask my daughters to dress as princesses and consequently they used all mother’s make up. I explained them that no make up is needed because of the mask, but that didn’t stop them :-)
On the video you can see Lučka is jumping. I wanted unnatural body posture and the best way I could think of is while being suspended in the air. I thought I will see that she’s flying, just as Marianne Schröder is flying in Royksopp’s video, but now I prefer it like it is. It does look very unearthly, which is what I wanted in the first place!
The collection of wet plates of the mask is ON THIS LINK.
Tonight I wasn’t sleeping very calmly. Yesterday I started to plan my trip to Rochester for a workshop of dry gelatin plates, but I realized that a plane ticket in August is about 50% more expensive than in November and that whole expenses would be about US $3000. If I would get a loan and sacrifice family holidays (I am ashamed to admit, but it’s true I was thinking that) I could take the workshop. Then I saw on my bookshelf a book Tell the World You Don’t Suck by Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua. The frustration of canceling plans steared in a new direction.
I opened my calendar with dates of festivals around the world and I’ve checked if I missed portfolio review in Arles, arguably the most important Fine Art Photography festival in the world. I did miss the first wave of registration, but still there are many, many great reviewers. I will book maximum, 20 sessions and that will cost me 540 EUR. Too much I know, but I never ever left empty handed from portfolio reviews like these. And beside that it’s a perfect opportunity to meet with my friends and colleagues from all over the world. I decided that even if we will miss family holidays I will go to Arles. Luckily my wife never reads my blog, so I can write whatever I want, if you will keep quiet, she will never know!
And later the day I’ve received an email from Mike Crawford with this reproduction of a print Black & White Photography! So super proud, I can not describe. You know the feeling when door get’s shut in front of you and you look around and you see many many doors you can take. You know the feeling that life is good that is OK even if it doesn’t flow like you’ve imagined?
PS: Here is a link of my blog post from Arles Photo Folio 2009.
HERE is a link from Vienna’s Portfolio Review 2010.
HERE is a link from Arles and Perpignan festivals 2011.
The first week of May I’ve joined European Collodion Weekend in Eindhoven, NL. It’s an opportunity to meet collodion photographers from all over the world. Tarmo Virves drove all the way from Estonia. That’s 2100 km drive in one way! In comparison to him, I was lucky, I had only 1250 km of road to drive one way. Still it was super exhausting, but it was worth all the trouble. It’s a perfect opportunity to at least once a year meet many of my wet plate collodion colleagues and do together what we love to do, wet plate collodion photography. Thank you Alex Timmermans for organizing and I look forward of seeing you again next year! And thank you for fascinating »Howgh, ich habe gesprochen« portrait of me! Next year I will make one of you ;-)
Melanie Fraser made this video of me taking a portrait of Sherpa. It’s published only on Facebook so I hope you have access to it. HERE is an album from Henk Peters. And HERE is a link to an album done by Ferry “The President! van der Vliet.
Also this year there were with us models Sabrina, Wilma, Sherpa and Ruth. I took their portraits and enjoyed every second of working with those guys. I was shooting only negatives, although the first test plate was so underexposed it turned out as a decent ambrotype. I’m publishing three out of five photographs I’ve made. I’m doing albumen prints and this process takes time.
On Sunday we did a group portrait and with a generous help of Christian Klant I’ve managed to prepare one plate and took a group portrait. I was lucky to guessed the perfect exposure time and when I was developing I haven’t lost ten drops of developer, thus keeping maximum silver on the plate and resulting topshit density of the negative. This weekend I’ve made three albumen prints. The HIRES of the albumen print is available on THIS LINK. You can download it and print it for your own collection. It’s free to use it for non-commercial use. There are no model-release form signed, so it’s intended for only personal archive.
If you want to buy an original albumen print I can print it for you. The size of the contact print is 10×12″, that’s 25x30cm. To achieve archival quality of the print it’s toned with gold-chloride and washed with Ilford Washaid (among other steps of the process). I’m selling it for 70 EUR + 10 EUR shipping. If you are interested, mail me on email@example.com.
At the event I was selling my prints and I’ve sold four! I actually covered all my expenses of the trip. Further more, when I was driving south I stopped in Nürnberg at Peter Kunz and give him a crash course on dry collodion. Although we had only few hours and deliberately we’ve chosen impossible motive to photograph, we’ve made a good dry collodion negative! It’s a step test, on the left it’s underexposed on right it’s overexposed, but the dynamic range of collodion negatives is V.A.S.T. so you have Spotmeter was showing on the darkest part of the black shoe 8.5EV and on the metal part of the camera was 15.0 EV, sky was 15.5EV. Everything was there. Considering that we had few hours to do it from scratch, I call that a success. Peter Kunz is infected with collodion negative fever ;-)
I’m planning five days workshop on wet plate collodion negative, dry plate collodion negative, albumen and salt printing in Berlin. More details will follow, but you are the first to know ;-)
Swimming in a river, breaking focusing glass, bloody elbow, photographing in underwear,… Anything for a good wet plate negative
Last week was a beautiful weather and I’ve decided to make some landscape plates. I live surrounded by very fascinating landscape so it’s hard to decide what to photograph but this time I went down to the river. This winter was wet and we had icy rain that made huge damage on trees and infrastructure. On THIS LINK you can see images of Iztok Medja from Postojna region where every single tree was damaged! So this icy rain made that many huge oak trees felt in a river.
The tree was stable enough to hold a camera and a tripod, but as you can see it was really hard to focus and compose the frame. After I’ve made a good negative I set myself a new frame. I went in a river, carrying a tripod, but I slipped and fell in the river fully dressed. The river Krka is very cold and wet even for a wet plate photographer! My tripod sunk and I had to find it, touching muddy riverbed with my feet. It’s Manfrotto, don’t worry. I’ve climbed out of the river, undressed and solely in my underpants I went back in the river, setting the tripod on the position. When I stretched to get my camera I was hanging with one hand on a branch while with the other I pulled the camera down and the camera swung and with focusing glass crashed in my elbow. U PIČKU MATERINU!!! I didn’t care much for the focusing glass or the cut on my elbow, but how will I make a photograph without a focusing glass? I took the largest piece of focusing glass adjust it in the approximate position and focus. I close down aperture to f/32, so I knew I’ve sorted the focusing problem. I didn’t know what is in my frame, but who would want to know that!?!
The result is pretty good. I’m publishing also a carbon print that I’ve made from it on glass and on Fabriano F5 paper that I’ve seized it with hardened gelatin. The carbon print is showing the potential this negative has, but I will make it better. You will see it in European Collodion Weekend, this weekend!
Oh, the story doesn’t end there. When I finish and packed everything and was ready to drive home, I was reluctant to dress wet cloths and drive home. On the end I did dress my wet clothes back and drive home. Luckily I did so, because as it happened our street was being asphalted and it was closed for car traffic. Imagine that I would walk beside them barefooted wearing only underwear and apron? I know East Europe is much more relaxed about nudity then West Europe, but not that much :-)
PS: if you are wondering how to make a focusing glass, I’ve made a post HERE. It takes 15 minutes.
PPS: Here is another version of carbon print. It’s from the same wetplate negative that I’ve published few days ago, but now I’ve made new glop and followed all the instructions of Mark Osterman how to boost contrast to the limit. I’ve decreased amount of gelatin by 25%, increased pigment to 50ml of India Ink per one litter, cut sensibilization time by 50% and voila, the result is here! It’s even too contrasty. I’ve sensitized new tissues but with longer sensitizing time, so it’ll be more sensitive, but less contrasty. More to come, more to come…
Two years ago, at the start of my wet plate collodion path, I set myself a project to document state of bankrupt companies. Imagine the moment when the last worker at the last shift, turned the lights out. The moment when it became dead silent.
Now when I’m looking back at my videos (LINK) even blind would see the progress I’ve made. Nevertheless I love imperfection on my plates, so my plates don’t compete with flawlessness of film. This plate that is published under is about as perfect as I want it to be.
Last Thursday I went back to photograph Novoles company and Marcos Núñez Cid was recording a video about my project. He made a true masterpiece. I’m sure you will enjoy it.
Let me highlight that this project is getting quite some attention. First I had a beautiful exhibition in Gallery Photon, Ljubljana, Slovenia, then it was published in DOC! Photomagazine, issue #21, from pages 140-169 and in May, it will be featured in one of the UK’s leading photography magazines. The project was chosen to be presented on a group touring show under organization of European Month of Photography, so if I understood it correctly it will travel across Europe. Last but not least, I also sended this images to Slovenian Photography of the Year competition and the project did not pass even the first round of selection of 30 artists! If that’s not an achievement, then I don’t know what is!