Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Doing photography ecologically responsible

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I’ve made this video about recycling silver from waste water after development of a wet plate collodion plate. Sure I heard comments before that silver is not poisonous, but that is not true. Silver is a noble metal and it’s antiseptic, which means two things. It does not disintegrate and it will get in the river and from there to organisms and will remain there forever!Silver is not poisioness to human, but it’s very toxic to marine life!

If I quote a marine scientist Flegal “Unlike mercury, silver is not a human health concern. But silver is second only to mercury in its toxicity to marine invertebrates,”. So we photographers have to treat this precious noble metal responsible with awareness for the environment!
I would like to thank you for subscribing to my blog, youtube channel and foremost my patreons on platform, that are supporting this content by crowdfounding.
Last but not least, this blog is financed also trough print sales via ebay auctions. The auction from the print is ending in few hours, so if you can afford, bid on it and if you can’t afford it, spread the love.
And remember, topshit happens!

Written by Borut Peterlin

26 November, 2015 at 16:22

Posted in Uncategorized

Infrared film photography with a camera FUJI GSW 690

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Here is a shot that is really dear to me. I grabbed my second favourite middle format camera FUJI GSW III 690 and some infrared film and decided to have some fun time it in the forest. And oh, I had also iPad, so this film happened.

This blog and videos are crowd-funded, through Patreon platform. I’ve started only a month ago and this month I could buy 200 gr of silver nitrate with your donations. I will do my best to deliver and over deliver my promises. If you can spare a dollar, five or more per month, it would be most appreciated to make more videos with this kind of content.
(OK, less mushrooms and more bears, got it!)

And oh, don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel. Only lately I have learned that it’s jolly good to have a subrscriber or two on your youtube channel, but I guess you know better then myself, because I equally shocked I’ve learned that I have already 1673 subscribers. Look mom, I’ve made it!

And if you are on it, I also started a FB page, Topshit Photography, don’t forget to tap my ego there too. LINK.

PS: OK, I wanted to list the print on ebay as an auction, but I was reluctant to, but I received a request to do so, so I’ve done it! Here it is. I do follow a spiritual motto:
Everything is on sale except my kidneys! (officially)

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 00.11.49



Kaolin, the best friend of a wet plater and his wife

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This post will be more Tips&Tricks kind of content, but I’m already uploading new video, so although my audience are not only wet platers, please bear with me.

This tip is not the basics of wet plate collodion photography, it’s a tip that might save a month of your life and potentially a lot of money. It’s a technique that you do not need to use very often, but if you do need it, it’s your only friend, it’s an emergency exit. What do you usually  do when your silver bath is contaminated and it fogs like English morning? You sun it, right? If that doesn’t work, you add baking soda and leave it for a long time to settle down, I prefer not to wait that long and I rather add baking soda so the pH is about 5-6pH and then I boil it, so 2/3 of water evaporates. Then I add water, filter it and sun it again for a day or two. Then I have perfectly pure silver bath with which is a joy to work.

Last week I’ve done all of the above, but after filtering silver bath still looked muddy. Strange, strange, very strange, I thought. What do you do when you see something like that? I know what you’re thinking and you are WRONG, you do not publish it immediately on FB with a caption: What’s that?!? NO, that it’s not how you do it! You go back and investigate what went wrong.

I cleaned the pot to see if the coating of the pot chipped off somewhere and UAU, it was a massive corrosion and the metal part of the pot was in contact with my silver bath. Do you know what metal is a developing agent in a wet plate collodion developer? It’s iron, a sulphate of iron! So that means the silver bath reacted with the pot and it contaminated throughly!

In this case, all the sun in the world will not help to clear the silver bath, so you need to call special forces, you need a bad-ass called Kaolin! It’s a fine powdered clay, that is used for china making. It is known to bind on itself all sorts of stuff, but in our case, it will clear the silver bath.

So I’ve added few spoons of Kaolin and the cleansing started immediately. After a minute it was much much better. I left it sunning for a day, so all the clay sedimented down and clear silver was ready for more wet plate photography. The contamination of the silver-nitrate with iron took a fat toll, but at least I saved the remaining silver. If I wouldn’t had kaolin, I would have to dispose it.

Talking about disposing silver-bath. Mark Osterman told me, that when he started with the wet plate collodion process in 90’s it was a habit that photographers were using silver bath until it got contaminated and then they disposed it and mixed it fresh! He have learned from ancient books about sunning, baking soda, boiling, kaolin and all this witchcraft that we do today. I can imagine that us wet platers hurts the thought that we would need to mix new silver-baths every month or so, but there is one nice method how they’ve disposed the silver bath. They used it for painting of wooden fences and apparently it offers fantastic protection! I also read in Osterman’s Collodion Journal that silver nitrate was popular for dying hair. Imagine how permanently black hair were! My hair is getting kind of gray, I might spare some silver nitrate :-)

Back to the topic. Kaolin can be used also to clean your silver bath during wintertimes, when there isn’t much available sun, I use it to cleanse my silver bath for albumen printing. The only way to get albumen out of your silver bath is, you guessed it correctly, Kaolin! I also used a table spoon of kaolin with some baking soda to help my digestion problems. Seriously, it really helps! This is pure classic medicine, it’s not alternative mambo jambo! But all the methods above are alternative usage of Kaolin. Today it’s mostly used in beauty saloons, for facial masks, since it also cleanses skin. So the bottom line is the same as the title:
Kaolin, the best friend of a wet plater and his wife!

PS: Last but not least, this blog is supported by crowd founding. Thank you for the support. My page is HERE.

Written by Borut Peterlin

19 November, 2015 at 17:58

Feature news story from Montenegro, done by 4×5″ large format view camera

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Two weeks ago I had a solo exhibition opening in very beautiful gallery Atelje Dado in Cetinje, Montenegro. It was a long trip of about 1500km there and back, but I enjoyed it a lot. The exhibition place was great, I enjoyed staying in Montenegro, we used to be in the same country and since I speak fluent Serbian, I felt like visiting a relative far away, not a tourist or a stranger at all. I’ve done also a talk and demonstration of wet plate collodion process and it was good, very good, people liked it and results were good too.

12190071_10153036221765216_7764312863671303157_n-2Before I left on the road I heard there were violent protest happening in the capital of Montenegro, so I’ve decided that I will make a reportage about that. The question was how will I do it? I can not compete with local photojournalists and I wasn’t interested in news photography, I’ve done that a lot, I wanted to do it differently. I had to think what kind of reportage will I make, how will I approach the subject, what will be the subject at all? Many important questions to be answered before picking up a camera.

Talking about the camera, I was reluctant to take my super digital camera Nikon D4 with me, it’s too heavy and too expensive and I wasn’t into news kind photojournalism anyway, so I decided to do the feature reportage with my 4×5″ camera. I’ve decided that I will not wait for the violent protest, those images will be in the news anyhow, I wanted to make a different kind of story, so I’ve made the following approach.

I’ve focused on an ordinary resident of Montenegro, made a short interview and a portrait of them. The portrait was done in the manner of August Sander. Straight, portrait, with environment, so you get a sense who are these people, what is their job, what’s their status and so on. Since I was using an old bellow camera, I got a permission to do the portrait from all of them, I couldn’t steal a portrait with this kind of camera anyhow, but still I’m experienced photojournalist in the business for about 15 years and I know that the attractive camera did brake the ice for me.

When I came home there was the hardest task, to write a story, to write a text! For all of my years as a photojournalist I always was working in a team with a journalist, but now I had to do all by myself. I was kind of confident, because I knew how am I going to do this story before I picked up a camera or ask a question, so I sit down to write the story at 8am and finished it at 4pm. The experience working with excellent journalists for magazines like The Observer, Colors Magazine, Corriere della Sera, Mladina and others, was very good foundation. Even the editor in chief of Mladina weekly, said I wrote a good text. I was really satisfied with the feature reportage that was published in Mladina weekly. You can read the full article from THIS link, but it’s in the proper language, so I apologise to English speakers.

Last but not least, I’ve showed the feature story to my friend at UK’s picture agency Panos Pictures and he found it excellent and published it on their blog as an example of a good feature story. HA!!!

Long forgotten love for photojournalism revived in me. I don’t want to do daily news, but I am interested in daily life, small stories, that are affected by the stories from the news. Plus I realised I can do a reportage with a slow view camera, better then with my ultrafast digital camera! And imagine that, I can also write!!!

Written by Borut Peterlin

8 November, 2015 at 22:21

A Tribute to Ansel Adams workshop. Topshit workshop!

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Last weekend I had a workshop, A Tribute to Ansel Adams workshop. We were doing mostly analogue photography with large and middle format cameras. Next workshop is in two weeks, that’s 30., 31. of October and 1st of November 2015. I have two more places open. The same location, Baza 20, Kočevski rog, Slovenia. Photographers under 26 years and local photographers have a massive discount. My email is More info on:


Minuli vikend sem, v sodelovanju z Dolenjskim muzejem, priredil fotografsko delavnico in ta isti program ponavljam na delavnici zadnji vikend oktobra 2015. Slovenski fotografi in mlajši od 26 let imajo konkreten popust. Na voljo sta še dve prosti mesti. Več informacij na mojem emailu in strani:

Logotip Topshit Photography je kreiral Tomato Košir
Internet stran pa

Written by Borut Peterlin

14 October, 2015 at 08:33

New version of my 5am book project

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OK, if you know me or follow me for more then a week, then you’re probably familiar with my project 5am, a series of photographs taken around 5am around different places in the world. It’s my love affair with light.

Books that I've done with my photography. These are mainly handmade books, ten of them are different versions of 5am project.

Books that I’ve done with my photography. These are mainly handmade books, ten of them are different versions of 5am project.

I’m making this project for last 15 years and I will keep on working on it until it will be published, although that is not the guarantee I will really finish it, since that’s the most beautiful part of the day. It’s the surreal time when the night has finished already, but the day hasn’t started yet. Very intriguing it is. With years it became my morning routine, my walking meditation. I must say that I do not wake up every day at 4:20 and photograph until 5:59, but when I travel, I do my 5am routine and in certain periods I did that every day.

In the video I’m mentioning that the only merit I follow is the question, have I done it the best I can? And this is the only true merit there is. Sure, there are many competitions and just because the main reward has a high recognition and huge numbers of artists apply to it, that does not make it more absolutely objective.

OK, the word objective is a ficticious one, nothing in the universe can be declared as an universal objective thing or process, it does not exist, there are just subjective views and the view that is supported by many people is declared to be an objective one – for that circle of people.

What I’m trying to say is that I do not count how many people agrees with my views and I do not count how many likes have I received (although my mother counts them, so press LIKE!!!), the bottom line is that my personal credo is always to ask myself have I done it the best I could? Of course things can always be done better, but then there are circumstances… Sometimes circumstances are just overwhelming and you can not do it like you imagined to be done. We are not born equal and some of us are just more fortunate then others.

I feel and know that I am the fortunate one. I make my art and although financially is very challenging (read – shitty) I know it’s what I will be doing for the rest of my life. Of course I’m struggling to publish the book and I know that the book which is not published, it’s not a “real” book. But I also know that someday I will publish it. I know that the day when it will be published will happen and when it will happen, I want it to be the best as I could do it.

Let me share an anecdote of Goran Dragić. He is a NBA player coming from Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is super talented player, but when he arrived in NBA, the coach was ignoring him. He didn’t get a chance to play on the court. He was desperate, but he got the best advice from a friend. He said, you are in NBA. Your minutes on court will come. You don’t know if coach will call you at the next game or in half a year, but coach will call and when he will call you you want to be ready! What you can do today, is to train hard, so when your minutes will come, you will be in the best shape possible. The coach left him sitting for almost a year, his nickname became Goran Tragic. It took almost a year, but when the old coach left and the new coach send to play and he proved himself to be one of the best NBA players! His career high was 40 points in 38 minutes!

So the bottom line of this post is that I know the 5am book will be published eventually and when the time will happen, I want to be ready ;-)

Let’s finish it with the highlights of the main president Goran Dragić! Goran Dragić.

Written by Borut Peterlin

6 October, 2015 at 22:57

Posted in 5am, book, video podcast

Tagged with ,

My Patreon crowdfunding campaign is launched

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Dear readers of my blog,
I really love this blog, I started to blog in 2003 and since 2006 this is the place where I’ve post more then thousands posts on photography. I love to do it. I love to make videos too. It’s a great feeling to share the passion with like-minded people! The only problem is that with every new video my appetites are growing, I want to make a better video, to publish more, etc. Unfortunately the clash of my ambition and time constraints is unbearable. Believe it or not, about dozen videos are already recorded, but not edited and probably will never be finished.

I’ve decided to try out Patreon crowdfunding platform. Patreon platform is like Kickstarter, but if Kickstarter is for big projects and for big sums of money, Patreon is just the opposite. It’s for creators that are asking for support of their followers. It’s for small amounts of money like $1, $5 or $10 or more. I don’t know if this will work. I know this will not replace my career of commercial photographer, but it’s a start. Who knows where this will bring me.

Screenshot 2015-10-01 23.11.50The second site I’m launching is Topshit Photography. I wanted to create a site that will host all the information about my workshops and will also host a shop where people can buy art from me directly. My brother is a web developer and he has a company Amaroo and he offered me his expertise in setting up the website.

Please visit it my Patreon and Topshit Photography site and leave a comment, I wonder what you think. Next week another video is coming. On retouching glass negatives and on planning my next project.

Thanks to Vid Klancicar ml. For assistance with the video above!

Written by Borut Peterlin

1 October, 2015 at 23:14

Posted in ebay, video podcast

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