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

Contemporary art project in wet plate collodion negative and carbon print

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Ciao ragazzi, I’ve listed a new print on EBAY, starting as an auction of US $0.99.

The story about this print is:

Beside 19th century photography processes I love contemporary art just as well. By Wikipedia the definition of contemporary art begins with a sentence: Contemporary art is art produced at the present period in time.

I am not an art historian, but I think that’s nonsense! If I create the same kind of images that were made 100 years ago, how can that be a contemporary art work? By my definition contemporary art has nothing to do with the current time that was created but with the attitude to create something that wasn’t done before. Contemporary art (by my personal understanding) is taking reference from art history but involving in the concept contemporary issues and by doing that the artist get across a certain personal view, a certain personal message. Because contemporary art is always a sort of an experiment, that is why contemporary art is so experimental, so unique and without one leading concept or aesthetic.

And this is my artistic credo in creating this photograph. Most of the story is told in the movie. In the movie I’m making a reference to the book Looking at Photographs by Szarkowski. I want to add that in 1995 I’ve seen an exhibition of Andreas Gursky in Georges Pompidou Center, Paris and one of the most impressive images was a huge picture of running shoes. I can’t find the image on Internet, but let me describe that visually the Gursky’s image was looking like a perfect product shot printed as a C-Type print size about 2×3 meters. I didn’t like the image at the time and to be honest I’m not fan of his work even now, but that does not mean I can’t learn something from his work.

The point of Gursky’s running shoes is basically the same as mine. I know, you’re seeing that kind of shoes every day, but look again! In the contrast to Gursky, my running shoes are really mine and I did run many hundred of kilometers with them and wore them out totally. My feet are imprinted in the shoes and so are thoughts… The first lesson I draw from Gursky’s work is that the trivial object can look extraordinary if presented in such a way.

The second visual reference is the book One Third by Klaus Pichler. I bought it at Anzenberger Gallery bookshop. The book is fantastisch! The little visual element that I needed for my image was the elevated object on black canvas.

The carbon print is made from wet plate collodion negative and it’s a part of a limited edition of 12 prints. I’ll donate one to George Eastman House, where I’ve learned this beautiful technique and I’ll donate one print with the running shoes to the SONS Museum for the collection of shoes by artists. But the copy number one goes to ebay as an auction starting from US 0.99$.

With the work I’m making an artistic statement about our consumer society, about how public relation image is cherished more then the real thing or a real person itself.

Because readers of my blog share with me a passion toward technical solutions of these antiquarian techniques I feel obligated to write about that as well. I was using Vageeswari 10×12″ camera with Voigtlander Heliar 300mm lens, closed down to f/32. I’ve illuminated the shoes with four flash heads of joined power 7000Ws and to achieve good density I had to flash 54 times. Wet plate collodion negative loves flash light, but as a lazy medium needs a lot of light! I was developing the negative for 3 minutes.
For carbon print I was using Indian Ink as a pigment and for temporary support of carbon tissue I was using the back side of cibachrome paper. You can see brown emulsion of the paper in the video. For final support I’ve used fixed out gelatin paper.

On the end let me thank Marcos Núñez Cid, my assistant from Spain for making this wonderful video.

PS: By the way, that’s already second print from the project. You can see the post about the first salt print that was sold to China for something more than US $300 (with shipping).

Borut Peterlin claims that digital photography is not dead…

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During carbon transfer printing process a carbon image is transferred from a temporary support sheet coated with a layer of gelatin mixed with a pigment to a final support with the help of weight. Borut Peterlin claims that there is still a room for digital photography in the future as a deadweight during carbon process. More about his views tomorrow, 7th of February 2014, B5 time. Where? Here, on your favourite topshit photography blog!

Written by Borut Peterlin

6 February, 2014 at 23:39

Just a teaser about my new photograph

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Here is a teaser about my new photograph in wet plate collodion negative and carbon print. Video was done by Markele Zid and Josué Tebas. I hope we will finish it by tomorrow, Friday 7th, 2014.

Written by Borut Peterlin

6 February, 2014 at 10:59

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

For a wetplate workshop dial B5!

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An ambrotype by Benjamin Lind

An ambrotype by Benjamin Lind

Last few months people from all over Europe are coming to the small town of Slovenia, to my home, to learn alternative photography techniques. Pardon my French, but I’m really proud on that!

Like in October Benjamin Lind from Switzerland was here for a weekend basic wetplate workshop. Last weekend Davide Nesti and Giuseppe Toffoli from Italy were here. They are experienced wetplaters and they were interested in wet plate collodion NEGATIVE, salt print, albumen print and silver gelatin printing from a wet plate collodion negative. Really too much program for two days and we did struggle with some troubleshooting, but on the end we achieved goals. I also learn one thing from the workshop. Davide had one nice camera, but the plate holder was fogging like english morning. I really didn’t believe that the plate holder can be used for wet plate photography, but then Giuseppe took my clear acrylic varnish and sprayed all parts that were in touch with a wet plate and the next day fog was totally gone. I couldn’t believe my eyes! One day fog on fog, the next – clear plates…

Robert Gojević, editor in chief of Blur magazine hired me to do a private workshop in Zagreb in his flat. We started perfectly following the Collodion manual of Mark Osterman that is included in the price of my workshop, but then when finally a time came for a plate, I got just fog. Robert was looking at me suspiciously, but I said, no worries, in wet plate process I follow one rule. If the first plate succeed, that’s luck, if the second plate does not succeed, that’s bad luck, only the third plate is bound to succeed if there is bad luck or good luck! And that’s what it happened. After troubleshooting I’ve recalibrated developer for hot and dry environment (his flat) and the third plate was (almost) perfect.

This week also Markele Zid, a photography student from Spain came to Dolenjske Toplice to become my assistant for three months. He hired a flat and we are working every day. He witnessed the weekend workshop and yesterday’s workshop with Robert and today I said, just give it a try in wetplate process by yourself. I didn’t even put my gloves on, he was doing everything by himself, I just inspect it over his shoulder. His first plate was so perfect I couldn’t believe! He must have some German genes in his blood, that’s the only explanation! The first plate had a yellow “coffee & cream” color cast but because, if I use words of Mark Osterman, in Europe we prefer more silverish, neutral gray kind of look, I tweaked the developer with KNa and nitric acid for more neutral silver tone and his second plate was as you can see. More about Markele, the spanish president, later, we’re planning to make many topshit videos.

I’m publishing pics from the workshop with captions and you be the judge if the workshops were successful. If you are interested in individual workshop on alternative techniques, please send me an email. It’s all inclusive workshop with sleeping, food and material, since we work from 9am to midnight! We even eat standing! Lunch time is when gloves tear and then you need new pair, this is the moment when lunch is served because that’s the only good and proper time to eat with new pair of gloves!

Last but not least in a month time I have an exhibition in Helsinki and also there I’ll be giving a private crash course on wetplate collodion negative and salt printing. I have a feeling that at this year’s European Collodion Weekend, NEGATIVE wet plate collodion and the salt print process with be the hip thing :-)

An update on my Great Depression project

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Do you remember my project Great Depression? I’ve start working on it in December 2012 (LINK) and I had exhibition in October 2013 (link) Yesterday I continued to work on the project. I was in meat factory MIP D.D. (in bankruptcy process). I really wanted to document this factory, because it’ll bring a new dimension to my picture series. Images are showing a disassembly line of a living beings and it the context of my Great Depression photography project, it could be interpreted as a disassembly line not for cattle and pigs, but for humans. Say no more. Images are images and every possible interpretation is a valid one.

I think I’ll go one more time to the slaughterhouse and make few more images…

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!


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