TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Lesson no: 1 – Learn to enjoy your profession!

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Although I used to work for Fabrica.it, a research communication centre of United Colors of Benetton group, fashion photography never really interested me. Fashion never interested me either. But then again fashion photography is just a photography, so if you can make landscape photography, then you can make fashion photography, right? Wrong. There are many beautiful landscape photographs, but photographers ruin the photo by forgetting to dress their models! D’oh!!!

In my case, if a stylist and make up artist take care of their part of the job I will certainly not fail in photography part of the job. I understand light and flashes very well. I can feel it on my bladder what the end effect will be if I change the set up of lights. I guess every photographer who learned photography in film era had to develop a skilful bladder to see a photograph while taking it and not only after the films were developed. I know that doesn’t make sense for the new generation of photographers and rightly so! New era, new technology, new rules, new photographers! Good, don’t listen to old cold farts! I never did, either!

These images are of Jana and Jerica, girls from my neighbourhood. They have ambition for modelling and I was asked to make few portraits of them. As it happens two students of photography were also assisting me, Sanja Gorišek and Nastja Frey Gorše, so I’ve proposed that they should start collaborating. I’ve gave them my equipment with the following instructions:

The first lesson that I will give you is the most important of all! Here you have my equipment and do some photography. Nobody is expecting anything from you, so this is the perfect time to learn how to enjoy the game of photography. If you will not learn how to enjoy your profession, you will suffer immensely and more successful you will be, the worse it will be! So the lesson number one is the most important one, that is to enjoy the profession you intend to devote your life upon!

After occurred half an hour, the four girls relaxed, started to collaborate and enjoyed the shooting. I’m publishing portraits that we’ve done together, some were done by Nastja and Sanja alone, some were done by them with my guidance and some were shot by me. If you can’t distinguish which one are done by me and which are done by Sanja Gorišek and Nastja Frey Gorše, then that’s fantastic, my job is done!

We’ve used Nikon D4, Speedlights SB910 and SB800 with transmitter, Balcar Jazz flashes, Electrona flash feeder, firefly soft box, one large soft-box and that’s about it. In fact, Slovenian national TV made a short interview with me, while we were working together. You can click on THIS LINK and go to the end of the clip, to 17:09 minutes.

Written by Borut Peterlin

20 August, 2015 at 22:31

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Topshit Photo Safari was a success!

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Dear readers of my blog, I’m back! Not that I’ve left anywhere, but I was working really hard to make my workshop happen. I organised a five days workshop, two days working outdoor and three days working indoor. We covered wet plate collodion negatives, albumen printing, salt printing and collodion chloride printing. After that I had another two days of individual workshop on carbon printing. Very intense indeed!

I’ve decided to set up our headquarters in Sitarjeva hiša, a house from 1886 and was abandoned for last 17 years. It did not had a running water or electricity, but with the generous help of Anže Grabeljšek, Sanja Gorišek, Nastja Frey Gorše and municipality of Dolenjske Toplice, we sorted things out! I had many concerns and I had two back up options, but the house with it’s charisma is destined to host more art events! In fact I’m exhibiting new work there, so let me invite you to the exhibition of my panoramas on 27th of August at 7pm.

Expect more topshit events like this! For now I’m going to organise a workshop with a theme: Tribute to Ansel Adams. I’m planning a workshop on analog photography, with medium and large format cameras, for about 8 people. We will do rafting, camping, off roading and developing contact prints. We will explain the zone system, have a talk in the middle of forrest about Adams’s work and legacy… It will be 4th and 5th of September. The price for it is 250 EUR and includes cameras, films, paper, chemistry and food while camping. (Če razumeš slovensko, si avtomatsko zaslužiš konkreten popust) I know it’s short notice, but I have friends who already booked, so only few spaces are available, so we will not wait for you, but don’t worry, I will have more workshops. More topshit workshops is what we need! I will make an official notice in the following days. My email is borutpeterlin@gmail.com

I’m talking also with Nikon, we might make a photo-safari trip on digital photography during wine picking season. And I’m thinking to organise a collodion new year celebration in some cottage deep in the forrest of Slovenia (or is it properly written Slovakia?!?) What do you think, is it topshit enough idea?

Anyway, please check the images bellow and read captions and remember…
Topshit does happens!

Topshit Centre of Photography opens!

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Today was a great day. Months of preparations, planning and hard work calumniated in the introduction of the house of Sitarjeva hiša in a new role. We’ve installed a darkroom, daylight working room, chilling room, a gallery and a dance room!

The house was made in 1887, but it was for last seventeen years abandoned. It does not have running water, electricity or heating. But We will change that. We are changing that! With the generous help of Anže Grabeljšek, Nastja Frey Gorše, Sanja Gorišek and municipality of Dolenjske Toplice, we are reviving the house in the centre of Dolenjske Toplice.

Everything is ready for the beginning of the topshit photography workshop in the centre of the topshit world! Expect more news from the workshop, expect traveling, adventure, weird creatures in castles, driving off road, swimming, rafting, camping, visiting museum collections and foremost making wet plate collodion negatives, salt prints and albumen prints.

Oh… Today we had a visit already! On Sunday I was portraying on the streets of Ljubljana and by pure coincidence I’ve met a journalist from USA, who is researching exactly what I do, traveling, workshops, creativity and adventure. Today she came for a visit and made an interview. I am not kidding you, it’s true! Hey, I’m preaching this all the times, so let me repeat again:
TOPSHIT HAPPENS!!!

Sort of good bye to Jure Breceljnik

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I can’t write any blog post before I don’t say goodbye to my dear friend Jure Breceljnik who has died last week. We studied together at Famu, Prague’s Academy and he was a great influence and great support for me. Oh, I borrowed his equipment zillion times and with his gear I’ve earned money for my own equipment. He was easily the brightest kid in the class, the kind of guy that sort things out. I remember at the age of 20 or so he started a festival World Young Photography and because he really pulled huge project together, a professor gave him an excellent mark 1, although he never saw any image from Jure that semester.

I remember our countless trips driving from Ljubljana to Prague and back, flickering of street lights, endless discussions about art and the plans that will we do for the eternity. The soundtrack was Nick Cave, Do you Love Me. I remember Austrian border control and our fears that this time they will not let us pass with very old and rusty car Zastava 101. Ja, ja bisschen rustig aber sehr kunstlig… I’m sure that still doesn’t make any sense, but it got that police officer smile and let us go our way with that dubious car.

In 1994-1998 when we studied photography, there was no college for photography in Slovenia and we needed to go abroad, so few of us coming from Slovenia, we bond firmly like brothers and sisters. We were helping each outer as much as we could.

I remember one anecdote. Jure asked us to make a group photo of us, but we had to be nude and he assured us that nobody will see this photographs, except teachers at the college. I didn’t care, but others were concerned. As it happened with this series of images Jure won Emzin’s award Photographer of the Year 1998 and the photo of us full monty was in every Slovenian newspaper, on TV and on the exhibition.

I drove first time to Prague with that car together with three friends, that I’ve just met. Jure was driving, Tina was in bad mood sitting in the front and with Blaž we were sitting at the back. As it turned out Blaž committed suicide in 2001, Tina committed a suicide few years later only Jure escaped the whirl of negative energy and became again creative and super productive, when he got married and became a father of half a year old daughter, his heart left him. The cause of his death is not yet established, since he died in Belgium and the autopsy wasn’t been performed yet, but from the circumstances it sound like the most logical conclusion.

Few years ago, Jure sold me his 4×5″ camera. The camera will remain focused, my friend, rest in peace. Let me finish this post with Nan Goldin‘s qute: “I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.”


Written by Borut Peterlin

23 July, 2015 at 23:47

Posted in personal thoughts

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Topshit photographer’s journal – July, 2015

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Dear topshit readers,
Here are some updates. I’ve just came back from family vacations and I don’t have a habit to post that my house is empty. Not that is anything to steal from it, but still.

What do you do for a living people are very frequently asking me. Hm… Not so easy to answer. Well, I do have two regular clients that all together make three to four monthly salaries per year but everything else is freelancing. I’ve been fortunate enough that I’m freelance photographer from 1998 and ever since I have burned only handful bridges, so people know me and I do not need to promote myself as a commercial photographer. The other Friday it was a crazy day. Three clients wanted to do the shoot in one day. Good, three flies in one stroke.

In the morning it was Janez Bršec, a poet. He wanted that I make a portrait of him for a cover of his book. I’ve done as he imagine it, but then I’ve made one more as I’ve understood it. He picked my version :-)

Next it was Corcoras quartet with and without actor Branko Jordan and then a solo portrait of Branko Jordan. At 3pm it was really hot, but we’ve met beside a river that offered some fresh breeze. I didn’t had any problems, aside some oyster stains on the edges, which I like in the first place.

The last shoot was in Ljubljana, that’s an hour drive from where I live. We started at 7pm and finished at 11 pm. Maja Smrekar is a contemporary artist dealing with futuristic visions of humanism. Or at least that’s my interpretation of her work. Nevertheless she explained me her new project. It’s a survival kit for 21st Century. It has many features, it could be a weapon, a tool, or protective gear. So my task was to illustrate her using the set. I was using Balcar studio flashes, a Profot Flash Feeder, some “nothing special” gadgets, excellent Nikon D4 and three lenses. Interesting thing is that the last picture was taken almost at midnight with full moon behind. I had to illustrate that the kit has also a feature to offer a shade, so I’ve used the moon as futuristic sun. I was asked if I could have a workshop on these kind of creative lightning, but with – pardon my French – digital photography. Of course we will, stay tuned.

Written by Borut Peterlin

14 July, 2015 at 00:17

Wet Plate Collodion Safari

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Video Collodion Journal, Vinica, Slovenia, 2.7.2015. This time I didn’t had perfect plates. They were OK, but it could be better so I finished the day in the river :-)
PS: One more space left for Collodion Photo Safari, 29th of Jully – 2nd of August 2015. http://borutpeterlin.com/WORKSHOPS/Advanced—Negative-&-Printing/1/

Topshit photography journal 16th of June 2015

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Tomorrow is a big day. I’m almost finished with my preparations for Vienna Photo Book Festival . I’ve cashed in all my chips and now it’s time to go. I’m going to Vienna with a Land Rover, my old-timer. Today I’ve bought Hi-Lift Jack and I’ve sorted the bed in my Land Rover. As a huge fan of Top Gear, I’m planning to do Topshit Gear Special and I’m planning to record my trip as I do, with emphasis on photography and art. The book Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is my inspiration.

I’m not doing this just for the fun of it, but I’m celebrating a new milestone in my photography path. I finally reached the destination after four years of intensive work. Six years or so I’ve seen an exhibition of Sally Mann in London Photographer’s Gallery and I’ve decided there on the spot I want to learn this witchcraft of collodion. It took me more then a year to find Miša Keskenović, who introduced me into the craft and another year to have met Mark Osterman in person. At George Eastman House I’ve seen original albumen prints of Eadweard Muybridge, France Scully Osterman, Mark Osterman and many others. I knew that I want to make a project with it. Albumen print process is in principle very simple process, but if you want to have rich tonality with clear white highlights and deep blacks, it’s very difficult. On top of everything I see my future artwork only in wet plate negative, that is much more difficult to do, then ambrotypes or tintypes.

Practitioners of wet plate collodion process know that the most difficult thing of all is the workflow. It’s one thing to make a good plate (either positive or negative) and it’s completely another thing to be able to do it in whatever situation it is. I bought the Land Rover so I could perfect my workflow and master the process so well that it becomes intuitive and I can focus on the photography itself not thinking on the process.

In the road I’m taking I’m celebrating that. I’m celebrating the past four years of learning and tackling the process and now I feel the process is very natural to me, I’m relaxed and I have plenty of energy to focus on the aesthetic and art. In this road I’m celebrating the fact that I’m making prints that are the best prints I’ve done. I love them so much, I can’t stop looking at them. I know I’ve reached the milestone of learning the craft. Now I can fully focus on my art, on the concepts, on ideas I want to share through the medium of photography.

Here are some random images I’ve done lately. Captioned.

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