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

Posts Tagged ‘Photography

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 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

Simon Weber – Unger and his Nature Printing process from 1852

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This weekend I was visiting Vienna Photo Book Festival and it was really exciting place in time. So many books, so many ideas, so many people to talk to… Unfortunately I managed to make only one proper interview if I don’t count the one I’ve published on Monday. Since I’m very much interested in alternative photography processes from 19th Century I was overwhelmed with the work of Simon Weber-Unger! He has a gallery Wissenschaftliches Kabinett in Vienna and it’s specialized in 19th Century photography. Furthermore his project of reviving Nature printing process is breathtaking indeed. I’ve made this interview to share with you his work. I hope you will get a glimpse how great it is. I know it’s not photography, but it is amazingly beautiful print!

More about this topic you can find on

Documentary project Great Depression

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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!

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Video from skylight Studio Pelikan

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Wet Plate Collodion portraiture in skylight Studio Pelikan by Borut Peterlin from culturaesmorbo on Vimeo.

Markele Zid made this video about our daily life in Studio Pelikan. It’s a job, somebody’s got to do it… :-)
We’re working on a website too. You must come to see this gem from our cultural heritage! It’s part of Museum of Recent History Celje and it’s located on Razlagova ulica 5, Celje, Slovenia, EU. The studio is open for public and I do make public portraiture sessions, but I’m not in the studio every day, so please send an email of inquiry to address tajnistvo(at)mnzc.si and then we’ll find a term.

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…

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