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

Posts Tagged ‘illustrator

A new creative wet plate portrait – Milan Erič

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milan erič, an illustrator and painter portrayed by borutpeterlin.com

This is my new portrait for Mladina weekly. Milan Erič is a painter, an illustrator and author of animated feature film. I wanted to make his portrait in wet plate collodion technique, but every night before I have a wet plate portrait on a location, I have have a bad sleep. I can’t get rid questions like where will I work, who will complain about it, where will I get water, will there be a drain to waste used water and developer, will there be enough light, will the person being portrayed have enough patience and what if something will go wrong with chemistry? If everything goes well, I make a portrait in an hour and if it doesn’t… Several times I couldn’t make a wetplate portrait in the time frame or in a circumstances I was given and I had to make a digital portrait as an emergency solution.

This is one of more luxurious working place in front of toilet of Gallery p74. I know all toilets in downtown of Ljubljana and I will make a guide on toilets in Ljubljana for junkies.


We wet plate photographers are hard core stubborn oxen that will do just about everything for a good picture, but I was doing this for almost a year, almost every week and frankly I had enough of this suffer drive. The night before the portrait of Milan Erič, I couldn’t sleep more then few hours and I decided this is the end, the end of my collodion portraits in Mladina weekly! But while I was eating a breakfast I came to a good solution! I did the following.

With my ShenHao 4×5″ camera I portrayed him on a normal HP5 film. OK, it could be considered a normal film in this recession times, since it got expired in 1995. You know the book of Chase Jarvis, The best camera is the one that’s with you? Well I’m working on a book The best film is the one that you get for free!

My little ShenHao camera with Rodenstock 210mm, Linhof 135mm and Zeis 90mm lenses.


Film that got expired in September 1995 is not bad. It’s not perfect, but for who it is, good it is!


My “new” Durst 138s enlarger can blow up negatives up to 5×7″ that’s 13×18 cm in proper units.

I projected the negative on a wet plate holder with a sensitized plate.


The ambrotype in negative. I scanned it, then scratched it, then scanned it again. If you can see I removed the scratched line that goes around his head with the help of first scan.

This is the result it’ll be published in tomorrows issue of Mladina weekly. As you can see format of publication is different, so I retouched the edges of a glass plate.

Final summation. The complicated procedure of wet plate collodion process on location was starting to stressing me too much and steered most of my energy from conceptual creative process into logistic / chemical issues. I wanted to give up, until I figure out this solution. I mean it’s not an invention or something, many people are or were doing it. Now, when I don’t need to worry how and where to develop, I can devote more of my energy back to concept of the image and what is the message of it.
There are some draw backs. Collodion is sensitive to UV and blue light and not sensitive to red and orange, so the skin of Milan Erič would look completely different if I would portrayed him originally with collodion process. In principle I could skip film entirely and do the image with digital camera, but my personal resolution is that I will make the procedure as simple as I need it, but not simpler then that! (Einstein took that quote from me) I love how lenses for large format draw and I love their depth of field.

Hm… that makes me think. Do you want me to make a glass plate ambrotype from your digital file? I would charge you 50 EUR + shipping for a 5×7 plate. I can do bigger plates of course. Have you seen my new Durst enlarger? My contact.

Where was I? Anyhow, I’m not a traditionalist wet plate photographer. I embrace every tool there is to fulfill my vision in making of photographs. At the moment I’m in the period where I can see world only in collodion images and since I can not make a living from this kind of photography I try desperately to involve this noble analog process in my daily work as a professional photographer.

PS: I forgot to write that the whole procedure takes much more time then if I would shoot it originally on collodion, but it’s more reliant, which is what I need on assignment.

New wet plate portrait with a flash system Balcar Source 6400Ws

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Blaž Porenta, a terrific illustrator, portrayed as Hamlet in Wet Plate Collodion technique.

Blaž Porenta is a terrific illustrator, working for different clients around the globe. Currently he’s illustrating characters of all sorts from cartoon like creatures for children to demonic characters for app games. For Mladina weekly I portrayed him as a Hamlet. Why? Why not!

Balcar Source 6400Ws with two 3200Ws heads, Balcar Jazz 1500Ws and Jazz 750Ws. Bowens is missing on this picture.

This is my first Wet Plate Collodion portrait with my newly purchased flash system Balcar Source 6400Ws. I’m great fan of Balcar and I have a set of Jazz flashes from 1999 and they still work just as good as day one. Not to mention I’ve been using them solely outdoors, even in the rain. If you don’t believe it, see this. Once one flash fall down the stairs so I could see the electronic guts, but it was and still is working. I’ve emailed Profot shop in Ljubljana asking them for some flashes, but something extra strong! Damijan offered me this studio system that can burst 6400Ws of light for a really good price! I bought them and I know this will serve me for another decade or two and after I can sell them for the same price I’ve bought them. Beside this I have also Balcar Jazz 750Ws, Jazz 1500Ws and I’ve borrowed Bowens 1500Ws, so my flashes are bursting with 10.150Ws! For a comparison a normal Nikon or Canon dedicated flash, have a power of about 70Ws! Why do I need all this power? Wet Plate Collodion has an ISO of approximately 1/3, so I need huge power if I want to portray people with flashes and in wet plate technique.

Yesterday I purchased an enlarger DURST 138 with color head, five Rodenstock lenses and many other stuff. I said I purchased it, although the truth is I got it for something more then nothing. This stuff is big, huge and so the seller wanted that I channel my passion through this enlarger so she sold me for a symbolic price. This baby can enlarge 5×7″ negatives, that’s 13x18cm! Of course it can enlarge also smaller negatives, but I can imagine this will be a blast to make prints from 5×7 glass plates!

New creative portrait – no photomontage, straight from the lens. Mina Žabnikar

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mina žabnikar 20110225_5406

Mina Žabnikar is an illustrator and graphic designer. I’ve been commissioned by Mladina weekly to do her portrait and I was thinking how should I do a portrait as an illustration. I’ve done a really successful portraits of illustrators Katja Pal and Eva Vasari and many more illustrators. Just click search under keyword illustrator and you’ll be surprised as I was how many illustrators I’ve illustrated and that’s just a selection. I guess it’s good that I forget how I did my last portrait, so every time I start from the scratch and invent a new image.

Anyhow on a forum Lukka was wondering how I did the portrait. Easy, without a photomontage. Do you remember my picture series Zombies? I know JC does, it’s from 1997. I did this picture on a sidewalk in the beginning of my studies in Prague (1994) and I love it and I was keep on shooting in the same manner for the rest three years.

The portrait of Mina is done in this manner, with a small flash burst in her face, since it is a portrait after all. So technically as you can see in EXIF I used a long lens, an exposure of 1/10 and a door as a light shaft, so light is directed in one direction and not scattered through out the space. Basically I needed a silhouette and if that silhouette is moving, it does a slimming ghost effect as you see it. Last I needed s flashburst directed by a honeycomb onto her face. In postproduction I just level out the contrast on her face. Simple as pasulj.

Jure Engelsberger, an illustator, graphic artists,…

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jure engelsberger foto Borut peterlin - Mladina
In last issue of Mladina 52/2008 we are writing about Jure Engelsberger. Here is a portrait of him. We thought that I would do a photographic portrait and he would draw a self-portrait and we would publish it along side each other. Then Jure suggested that he would intervene in the photograph and I thought it was a great idea. Here is the result.

I did it in really tied time pressure right after the portrait of Marcel Štefančič and Sašo Hribar. We did portraits after the interview in a City Hotel in Ljubljana. I choose a lecture room with a projection canvas and with one flash I illuminated the background evenly and with second I illuminated his face. The trick is that although the background is illuminated the light does not illuminate the model from back, so you keep part of the face in shadow. How much shadow and how sharp you want it, you decide with distance between the face and the source of light.

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Written by Borut Peterlin

23 December, 2008 at 13:23

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