Posts Tagged ‘Portrait’
Dear_readers_I’m_so_honored to announce that in collaboration with Museum of Recent History Celje we will revive portraiture sessions in one of the best preserved skylight studios in Europe. The glass studio was build in 1898 and from 1920 Josip Pelikan was working there. After his death in 1977 his youngest daughter Božena Pelikan took over the family busnis and when she retired in 90′s, the studio was donated to the museum that renovated it with great care for details.
In the following month of February we are planing to revive public portrait sessions in the studio in a noble manner of portrait photography of 19th and 20th Century. Well not every day, but on certain days. I was working really hard to achieve sufficient technical and aesthetic level. First step is to revive the studio, so people could enjoy the nobility that once portrait photography had.
Next is to have workshops on photography techniques of 19th Century and finally my greatest goal is to have a festival of Alternative Photography. I imagine that exhibitions and lectures on the topic would resonate perfectly in this space. I already founded Fotopub festival of documentary photography and I was the Art director of Fotopub during first seven years and the festival continues to thrive, so I’m confident that if I could do it at age 26, I could do it even better 12 years later! Especially because I have huge support in my mentor Miša Keskenović and wonderful people of Museum of Recent History Celje.
But step by step. And first step, first foundation stone is of course photography. Do you like it? Would you like to have a portrait of you in this manner? This is not my whole portfolio, this is just the beginning. Beside ambrotypes the studio will offer also wet plate collodion negative, printed on either salt print, albumen print, cyanotype, gelatin silver-bromide print and so on. But more about that in the following post. Josip Pelikan Studio is located in Celje, Slovenia, EU.
From Mladina weekly magazine I was commisioned to do a portrait of an actor, Jure Henigman. I’ve already made a portrait of him in 2008 with Zvezdana Mlakar, but I was planning to do something completely different. First of all we’ve met at the parking lot in Ribnica and my first resolution was, no background, just the face and expression. I’m always impressed how an actor can make a story (photograph in my case) just with an expression. I brought my newly made headrest stand about which I was blogging already. A friend and colleague from Ribnica Luka Ileršič show up and show started. He took behind the scene images. I’ve portrayed Jure facing a church, because I liked the light coming from behind. I used ShenHao 4×5″ camera with Rodenstock 210mm lens + a yellow filter. Yellow filter is perfect for B&W portraits I love it! The secret of series Family Album is in a yellow filter!
When I got home the true adventure really started and I’ve made a video about it. I hope you’ll like my exploration of photography down the rabbit hole.
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.
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!
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.
Peter Movrin is one of the most prosperous and highly rewarded young fashion designer. On HIS SITE it states: “Peter Movrin creates dark knight inspired menswear – long laser cut leather coats, paired with silk underskirts, grey tone raw leather pieces and accessorised with knitted head pieces and balaclavas in a modern attack on medieval attire.”
Mladina weekly assigned me to make his portrait and when I saw his site and video attached bellow, I knew wet plate collodion technique is destined for his portrait. We made the portrait is his shop in downtown of Ljubljana. I’ve illuminated him with Balcar Source 6400 studio flashes, which can be used as a synonym of light burst (6400Ws) that can compare with a nuclear explosion. I’ve scan the plate, then I scratched it with a brush paper and hold it above a flame, so the glass plate broke. Then I scanned it again and in Lightroom I added an effect of vigneting and the result is here! I hope you like it. Gregor Cokan was assisting me.
When I made this portrait I thought this is it! I will use Wet Plate technique and combine it with every tool there is either that’s analog or digital. Wet Plate photographers are often limiting them selves only to the tools that were available in 19th Century even to that extent that they don’t want to scan a plate because they scrutiny it or something like. I disagree. I consider 19th Century photographers a wizards of their own time. They were building their own equipment, mixing their own chemicals and mastering aesthetics of new media. I consider them as intellectuals that were open to wide range of knowledge and were not limiting them selves and this paradigm I like. I thought I figure all out for my next creative portraits! The conceptual and aesthetic approach, chemical part of this technology, illumination and so on.
BUT! (there is a but in every decision isn’t). But yesterday I was trying to make another portrait for next issue of Mladina, but it didn’t work. I mean I’ve made tests and everything was fine, but then people were late and there was no ambient light anymore. I had to make a set up with flashes and I tried to do their portrait without a tests, but in a rush, wet-plate does not work. After one hour I admitted my defeat and was forced to make a digital portrait.
I came to another personal resolution. I will use this technique only if I will have a clear concept and not trying to use it for every portrait in Mladina weekly magazine. It’s just to stressful, not to mention that I need an hour of pre-preparation before the shoot and even then it’s not certain that it’ll work. I mean I have a strong portfolio with my digital portraits, so no worries about the quality.
Peter Movrin’s fashion:
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!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!
The strangest thing happened with my wet plate collodion chemicals. On Wednesday I’ve made the portrait of Nana Milčinski without a problem and the very next day I couldn’t make a decent picture. It took me more then a week to figure out what went wrong and I’ve burned lots of nerves. I’m not going to go into chemical details, but I’m happy I’ve solved the problem. Luckily if a wet plate gets all dirty and full of stains, you can call it an art and you get away with it. You can see the stains and fog that is appearing on some pictures. I’m happy that I’ve resolved the problem/s and on the end of the day I’ve learned a lot. Really a lot. I’m finally at the stage that when a problem occurs I can systematically find it and resolve it.
The worst thing was that this problems were occurring when I had to do a demonstration of a wet plate collodion technique on two photo-fairs in Maribor and in Zagreb. Very stressful! Oh… I’ve bought a tent Eskimo QuickFish 3 and now I have a mobile darkroom. It’s very good, although joints are not strong enough so I’ve asked my friend to reinforce them. BUt it’s a joy to work in it. I set it up in 40 seconds!
Photo: Goran Katić
In Mladina weekly I’m publishing my portraits every week from 2006 and although I had a huge success with that kind of aesthetic, I needed a change. And Wet Plate Collodion technique is a real change indeed! In spite of technical difficulties of the process I still am trying to focus on a content, so that the portrait is not just a remake of old masters, that I can not surpass anyway, and sometimes I catch something that is from both worlds and is a signal I’m on a right path. Before the last example was the portrait of the band Silence.
Yesterday I’ve done a portrait of Primož Bezjak, an actor. He is very successful young actor. He was playing the main character in the movie Petelinji zajtrk, that was the film that brought to cinema the largest audience in Slovenia, beating Titanic and other blockbusters. On youtube is the film with English captions. But Primož Bezjak is mostly playing in theater and so it happens that he has a performance in Anton Podbevšek Teater and from the character and the feel of the performance I’ve build up the concept for this picture. The performance is inspired by the work of Samuel Beckett. Please take a look of the video bellow and you can see the visual parallels. The premiere is on Saturday and check on the site for other performances.
Technicall info: I’ve used camera ShenHao field 4×5″ camera, with a lens Linhof 135/3,5 at aperture 5,6, illuminated by two studio flashes of joined power 2250Ws at the distance of 60cm. Since we didn’t had a lot of time I’ve done this picture without a test and it came out perfectly! Plate is clean as never before and I’m in doubt that my plates are becoming too perfect, almost German-like!
In few days, that’s 29. October 2012 there will be an opening of a group exhibition in Kulturni dom in Gorizia in Italy. I’ll exhibit my Wet Plate Collodion portraits and some large format portraits. This weekend, that passed, before the opening in Gorizia, I’ve exhibited some of the pictures on a folk celebration that happened in a village where I grew up, in Straža pri Novem mestu. Every year villagers gather to revive a folk tradition of pealing corn and so we made the exhibition for the night. A jolly evening indeed. HERE is a report from a local TV, Vaš kanal.
Aleksij Kobal is one of my favourite Slovenian painters and I was very happy to portray him again. Two years ago I portrayed him behind a large glass window (link). We discussed about possible scenarios for the portrait and he suggested to take me to his favorite place on the suburb of Ljubljana. In his work he’s applying modernistic urban architecture that are creating his dreamscape, so I wanted to catch this feeling in my portrait of him. After the main portrait I’ve made few more shots with my Mamiya C330. I like them just as much, if not more. I love the last frame. The rectangular it resembles so much to the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not to mention this diffused northern light after sun set. Eternal beauty.
Today, 16th of September 2012 is the 90th birthday of Božena Pelikan, the youngest daughter of famous photographer Josip Pelikan. As a homage to famous Pelikan family and a humble gratitude to the photographical heritage of Pelikan family, I’ve made portraits of Mrs. Pelikan. I used Vageeswari 10×12″ camera with sheet film of 8×10″ and a lens Voigtlander Heliar 300mm, f/4,5. For Wet Plate Collodion portraits I used a Plaubel 5×7″ camera and I’ve made some quick takes also with Mamiya C330, format 6×6.
With Museum of Recent History Celje, we’re discussing projects that we might do together and I’m all excited since potentials are enormous! The studio is without a doubt one of the best preserved luxurious glass photographic ateliers in Europe with original equipment used by the famous Slovene photographer Josip Pelikan (1885–1977). More about it on the links bellow.
Museum of Recent History Celje / Josip Pelikan Photographic Studio
Panoramic view of Josip Pelikan Photographic Studio, Slovenia Landmarks by Boštjan Burger
Josip Pelikan’s photographies in the digital archive, DLib.si – Digital Library of Slovenia