Posts Tagged ‘wet plate collodion’
Astrid asked me if I could take a picture of fantastic vintage studio backgrounds that were using Josip Pelikan, so after I got a permission from the museum I’m publishing them on my blog. On Flickr you can download a hires file of the image, just click all sizes. Vintage backgrounds are dated about 1930′s. The skylight studio was built in 1898 and bought by Josip Pelikan in 1922. Nowadays Josip Pelikan Photographic Studio is a branch of the Celje Museum of Recent History. If you going to use the files to make your own vintage look studio background, just leave a note in the back that it was done on the basis of backgrounds from Josip Pelikan Studio, Celje, Slovenia, EU. A lot of people from MNZC museum worked hard to renovate the skylight studio and we owe them at least a credit. THX.
I’ve been thinking. My friend ordered a painted movie poster from India and if you know a painter’s service like that, share the info and good luck! Perhaps we can make a group order and get a discount. Just a thought…
Yesterday I was portraying in the studio and I’ve made this plate. Also a colleague photojournalist Andraž Purg came by and made a portrait of me.
Dear topshit readers,
Half a year ago I’ve done an experiment, I’ve sold a print on ebay, as an auction starting from $0.99 USD and after 5 days it was sold for $111 USD (LINK). Few weeks later an auction for the second print won $182 USD (LINK). These two sales were just a test to see how ebay works and what could be done and at what prices a print could be sold. I was very happy to see that it does work. Many people congratulated me for the courage to expose my work full monty to ebay auction, but I was also a target of a critic that the price my prints won, were ridiculous.
What I couldn’t explain to the critics is that it’s not so much about the money, it’s more an experiment how to sell art. I was invited to give a TEDx speech in Ljubljana where I’ll talk to 600 people live and few thousands on-line.
Not to mention the theme how to sell art is the mission impossible here in this corner of the world! I live in Slovenia, that’s the only country in EU (beside Cyprus) that still have recession, (that’s -3% recession!!!) and an art market is totally and utterly DEAD. The most prominent artists are dependent on grants, but I’ve decided to try something different.
I’ve explained everything in the video, I just want to add that the key element of the project is to give all my aces out of my sleeve. The print I’ve done and the way it’s presented is the best way I can. I am not able to do it any better. I wasn’t sparing any money. When I was cutting the glass negative my hands shook. They really did. I couldn’t believe it!
Oh, one more thing. Even though I was satisfied with my first ebay sales I pulled a handle brake and stopped selling my prints. I hit a question that I couldn’t answer. Why would someone buy a print from me for 1000 EUR, if I’m actioning my prints on ebay, starting with $0.99 USD? It took me literally two months to find an answer to that. And it goes like this. I need to make the ebay adventure as an art project by itself. I need to find an unique motif and a concept that will be solely devoted to the ebay auction experiment and by doing that I will protect my other work to be affected by the inflation of the price. I would never sold a print from lets say my best project Flower Power for less than 700 EUR. (which I did to a Dutch collector, long, long time ago…)
HERE is the LINK to the ebay listing. It will end Nov 27, 2013 11:23:04 PST.
Tomorrow I’m flying for Rochester, USA, where I’ll join Mark Osterman‘s workshop of Carbon Printing Transfer. It’s literally a pilgrimage for me (as an atheist), to come to George Eastman House museum and take a workshop with Mark Osterman. I never did a carbon transfer print, I am also not aware to see one although I’ve must have seen a carbon print in various museums I’ve visited, but still it’s described as the king of printing process, so it’s time to meet the king! Mark asked us to bring our own negatives and so yesterday I’ve done negatives of different densities. It’s no secret how it’s done. The same as with ordinary film. As Mark Osterman have taught me, exposure gives you information, development gives you density, so according to this commandment, I overexpose and underdevelop for low contrast and just the opposite for high contrast. (read captions for more info). The highest contrast negative is redeveloped. I’ll not go into details since this is very specific collodion technique. Before I headed for the pilgrimage I’ve done also a salt print, to remind the master Osterman that the king carbon print must make a better print. Ha! I do martial arts and the peak of the training is when you test your skills against your teacher and you get beaten as a sack of beans. No doubt this will be the case also this time. I always aim beyond my reach and then see how will I do. Ha, I so much look forward!!!
But nevertheless the salt print is gorgeous and it will present the best challenge I can make with salt print process against carbon print process. Obnoxious in that kind of creative way I was always been
PS: all reproductions have my dirty finger in the frame as a reference point that it is not digitally altered. Plus the print is dry! It’s not like super cooper wet and when you dry it all the blacks are gone…
Benjamin saw my videos on youtube and decided to learn wet plate collodion process so he drove from Switzerland for an individual workshop with me. It was great three days. We were doing basic wet plate collodion ambrotypes, wet plate collodion negatives, salt printing and then for fun we were doing also collodion transfer to paper and to his sketch book cover. Mark Osterman from George Eastman House museum explained that the name for this transfers is actually Pannotype. We were mixing and testing different collodions, silver baths with different pH, different developers, changing exposure with development times. The result of that kind of workshop torture is a surprising finding that a plate that was illuminated by 30% less could look brighter if developed with less developer in a perfect way.
My way of teaching is to use one motif and keep on photographing it focusing on one aspect of the process. Most demanding part of the workshop was wet plate negative. I’ve mixed new negative collodion, raised pH of silverbath to 4.9pH and with this I raised sensibility of collodion process, so I could make a portrait of Benjamin in wet plate collodion negative with f/11, t=4s. I portrayed him outdoor in shadow. Then we redeveloped the negative and we’ve made a salt print from it. Fun weekend!
If you want to know more about my workshops click on the LINK to my site. Let me just add that with my workshop you get also Mark Osterman’s Collodion manual. I was thinking to write my own instructions (just like everyone else who have 5 min of free time ), but I’ve decided I’ll rather buy bunch of the best collodion manuals and include them in my workshop offer.
With the project I’m trying to document the state of bankrupt companies with emphasis on the things that workers left behind. I’m known as a portrait photographer and although this time there are no people on my images, the human presence is very evident. I hope you will enjoy the video and hope to see you at the opening!
Dearest readers, one more thing. This is the 1000th blog post on my blog! I’ve been blogging since September 2006 and here we are at the 1000th post! A lot of things changed in this time and I’m happy I was blogging about it. I was thinking hard how to mark this anniversary. Due to the occasion, let’s call this week an artist to artist week. If you send me something that you’ve done I’ll send you back something that I’ve done. It’ll probably be a gelatin print, but who knows… If you make a good marmalade, I’ll exchange a print for a jar of marmalade. Or for whatever, just please keep in mind that the offer stands only for a week, so if you are really up for “Creation 4 Creation” deal, please send me before 7th of October 2013 on the address Cviblje 40, 8350 Dolenjske Toplice, Slovenia, EU. And don’t forget to write your address
My last post was about my commision in Switzerland. I’ve shot many plates and when I’ve came back I was sunning the bath for a day (bright sunny day), filtering, etc, but I was still not getting that super sharp shining silver on my plates. With usage of silver-nitrate bath, alcohol, ether, iodides, organic particles and other stuff they dissolve in the bath and you can not get them entirely out with barely sunning.
Common practice is that silver-bath is regularly sunned and boiled only once or twice a year. That goes for ambrotypes, that’s positives. Whereas wet plate collodion negative technique reveals all dirty secrets of silverbath (not to mention photographer’s secrets) and if you want to get a good negative frequent boiling is necessary. Major enemy of wet plate negative is excess of iodides in silverbath and the syndrome of that are white dots in negative or black dots in positive. Or to quote Mark Osterman: “free iodides” cause pinholes in collodion images.”
So what I’m trying to say is that I very often boil my silverbath for usage in wet plate negative, but I also fall in love in the quality of ambrotypes that are produced after freshly boiled and cleaned silver-bath.
How is it done? You can find this technique in The NEW Scully & Osterman Collodion Manual. I can explain you how I am doing it, but I must warn you that I’m Slavic origin and not Germanic or even Anglo-Saxon origin, so if you can use an advice about cleanness from a Slav, then you must be pretty desperate…
Add one small table spoon of baking soda in about one liter of AgNO3 solution. At this stage the pH should be about 6-7pH. I must warn you that boiling silver-nitrate with Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) will look like the end of your wetplate career, but that’s how it should look. To be clear, the silver-nitrate in the picture above looked perfectly clear before boiling, but since I’ve sensitized about 30 plates format 10×12″ (cca. 2.25 square meters) I knew it’s full of iodides, alcohol, ether and dissolved organic matter. Only when I started boiling it with soda all the feces came out…
A friend asked me the other day how to raise pH in silver-bath after you added few drops of nitric acid. This is the best way. On FB a colleague Michael Koerner wrote a comment: “Plus the sodion bicarbonate (NaHCO3) will (when acidified with nitric acid) turn to carbonic acid (H2CO3), which will over a short time turn to water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) – bubbles away.”
After boiling you need to add water, filter it, sunn it, filter it, measure gravity of AgNO3, add nitric acid so the pH is back to 4 and you’re finished! Your silver-nitrate bath is reseted. You must know that silverbath like that will be more aggressive then your usual silver-bath, so it’s good to shorten sensibilisation time. I shortened to 2:15 minutes at room temperature. Mark Osterman is highlighting that sensibilization process is judged visually and not measured by time. I think I know what he means, but I need to confirm with him that I truly understand this part of the process, next time when I will see the master. I’m planning to join his workshop of Carbon Printing in Rochester in November. So exciting!
To sum up. I love to reset my silverbath, because then I’m getting best results. Boiling does take toll. I loose about 13.722% of my silverbath solution due to filtering. After boiling I filter the solution about 4 times through double coffee filters. Personally I find it worth the effort, but in wetplate process everyone have their own way of doing things and I’m not saying this method is better than any other. It works for me and that’s the true beauty of this hand-made images. You do it your own way! Ha!
PS: I’ve changed the title of this blog. Before it was Photography Down the Rabbit Hole, but the title Topshit Photography blog is way better. Topshit happens!
PPS: TOmorrow I’m going back to Switzerland to do some more work. Obviously they think the work that I’ve done is worth the money, so more work is waiting for me. Topshit happens!
PPPS: Relevant links:
- http://collodion.org/ Scully & Osterman Studio
- http://collodion-art.blogspot.com/2011/07/silver-bath-maintenance.html (Alex Timmermans)
- My first post about boiling and sorting pH of silver-bath LINK
Last week it was a topshit week. Sasha Huber and Petri Saarikko are my dear friends from Fabrica / Benetton times. Sasha was invited to prepare an exhibition in Eisenwerk – Frauenfeld. I’ll talk more about the exhibition after the opening, but I can say that an important part of the exhibition will include also ambrotypes. Sasha commissioned me to make ambrotype portraits illustrating a certain aspect of her work. We were really working hard and I think we’ve done great work. Here are few plates that I’ve done as a test.
The theme for this post is actually how inspired I got in those short days that we worked together and we lived art. We discussed so many projects. Petri, for instance, founded Kallio Kunsthalle, gallery of contemporary art in Helsinki. He presented me all the exhibitions he curated, concepts, views, tools, impressions, etc… We shared our views on art that we do, that others do, contemporary art that inspire us, old projects, trends, currents and our plans for the future. Oh, very sprackling conversation/s…
On Sunday we went to Fotomuseum Winterthur where we saw an exhibition by Lewis Hine. I’ve met there with a fellow wetplater Peter Michels and on Moday I drove also to Nurnberg to visit another wetplater Peter Kunz. It was really cool to see his amazing studio! And you know where’s located? In former facility of Quelle factory. I promised to come back and do some plates for my exhibition Great Depression 1912-13. Peter has really amazing studio with topshit equipment. I’m attaching some behind the scene images.
On the way back I left Switzerland at 10am came to Nurnberg at 15.00 hang around with peter for couple of hours and at 19.00 I took my drive back home (690km) and arrived at 6:30 am. Altogether there and back I drove 1950 km. I drove whole night back inspired of all the art I consumed, shared and created…
As you can imagine this wet plate process is not cheap and as a professional photographer I need and want to make a living with wet plate collodion process. I’m presenting two commercial projects in which I find great potential and as always want to share with you.
In collaboration with Gallery Fotografija from Ljubljana I was assigned to make a business gift for Riko company. I photographed Škrabčeva domačija museum in wet plate collodion glass negative and made salt print, toned with gold chloride. It is awesome and I’ve sold it to Riko. From the print we’ve made an edition of 300 inkjet prints on hahnemuele photorag paper and presented in a folder as you see it. The inkjet printing, the presentation and the folder was designed and made by Luminus company.
Second assignment came from a known Slovenian curator. She hired me to photograph the house of her father in law. I’ve made 5×7″ wet plate collodion ambrotype. An interesting detail is that the house stands in the Puhar street in Ljubljana. Janez Puhar was an inventor who invented photography on glass in year 1843. Unfortunately nobody replicated the porcess after his death. Anyway the gift was a total success.
If you want to hire me to make on-location photograph of you or your house or do whatever in wet plate collodion process, I charge 150 EUR for the first plate and next plates are 30 EUR each. Email me for inquiry.
A week ago the Fotopub Festival finished. I was a founder of the festival in 2001 and was running the show for seven years and today I’m proud to say that the level is so high I gladly enrol as a participant to one of the workshops. This year I enrolled in a workshop with Diana Lui and I was photographing river beaches in wet plate collodion. Heat is a nightmare for wet plate collodion process, but I rethought the process, made few tests and here we go, I was doing wet plate collodion process at 30°C almost business as usual at 20°C.
I’ve made several changes to the process.
1) I lowered the pH of silver nitrate bath from 4pH to 2.3pH by adding few drops of nitric acid into it (about 3 drops per 500ml should be enough, but check yourself)
2) I added more alcohol in my collodion mixture. I have alcohol on the spot and if I see it’s drying too fast I add some more solvent.
3) To my usual developer I added 25% of water and added 5 drops of nitric acid per 100ml of developer. I could add also 5gr of sugar per 100ml, but I didn’t have to.
4) when sensitizing plate in silver bath I reduced the time from 3 minutes to only 2 minutes. Mark Osterman is emphasizing that the sensibilization should be done by observation and not by time, but on the field I observe only the first plate then I do it by time. You can see when a plate is ready for exposure. If you leave it too long in the heat, you will get too much silver on your plate that will become fog during development.
5) I used water as my stop bath, but I’ve added a spoon of table salt to a liter of water. Salt will react with silver and will stop the development process immediately. It’s important to stop development fast if you work without running water and in the heat.
And that’s basically it. If the plate is perfectly exposed it should be developed for 20 seconds. I’ve learned this from Mark Osterman’s manual where he explains in details what does what in the process. I rethought and made lots of tests, wrote him a lot of questions and on the end I came up with results that are satisfying. Last but not least I owe Miša Keskenović lost of gratitude for all the knowledge he shared with me.
Have you seen my video about wet plate collodion at 0°C? HERE is the link. The same logic is behind, only fashion changes. When you understand the process you adjust the process freely to the conditions. Twist and shout the process out!
PS: This will be a supplement to my exhibition on 5.9.2013 in KKC, Dolenjske Toplice, Slovenia.
PPS: All those five steps aren’t probably necessary to deal with heat. Step number 1 makes about 60% of the effect I reckon, but with it you lose at least 2 f stops of sensibility of your wet plate collodion plate.
Sorry for not blogging for a while. You must understand me, I quit my job of photojournalist where I was working for almost 8 years and was working my ass off to provide income elsewhere. And proudly I must say I managed to find a job that is much better paid, so I’m sorted for next 12 months!
Nevertheless I miss weekly portraits assignments so if somebody is interested to be portrayed by my genius in the bottle, just rub my email address.
Few days ago I was playing around with negative wet plate process and I wanted to see if my month old albumen solution got bad and how does it reflect on the plate. It’s important to recognize an error and it’s pattern. Here are two results. I love them both. Not sure if because my daughters are on the pictures or do they have some attraction to you to?
Images that follow are cleaner. I was cleaning my plates with very diluted nitric acid and I doubt that there will be any effect, but it was. I got very clean plates. I also give it a try of Miša Keskenović receipt for a quickclear collodion. Miša started to modify a receipt from Eder and adjust it for quickclear usage. It is based on three salts, NH4I, CdI2 and CdBr2. It’s rich in iodides and very sharp, very contrasty, very thick. Actually it was too thick for this weather, so I got crepe lines. I love it Obviously it’s not forgiving to work with the collodion, but it is rewarding when everything goes well. For more info read the description of an image.