Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Just breaking the ice

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Today's plate of my daughters playing on the tree.

Today’s plate of my daughters playing on the tree.

This blog became followed quite a lot and somehow I stopped publishing my daily discoveries what was the main purpose of the blog. Now I want that every post would be a gem, but that’s nonsense. This blog is about my path in photography. Nothing more, nothing less. This blog post is just to break the ice and I’m publishing what I’ve done today.

On Thursday a student came to my studio to make a wet plate collodion negative and a salt print. Although we were working for four hours I barely made one decent wet plate collodion negative and a gelatine print. After she left I’ve did trough maintenance of my silverbath although it was something more then a week after I’ve boiled it. Today I finished with all the procedure and decided to make some tests. First I photographed neighbor’s beautiful cottage. It’s a perfect motif, because it has deep red shadows and bright highlights. Why simple if we can push it, right? As you can see I first made a step test, to establish correct exposure. Step test goes, 5s, 10s, 20s, 40s at aperture f/16. My silverbath have pH of 5.5 so it’s pretty fast. If you don’t know, high pH is suitable only for wet plate negative, for positive you need to lower it to about 3-4pH. on Ebay I bought spot meter so I did Ansel Adams zone system. I measured the dynamic range of light and did a step test. On the picture you see EV numbers. Where the number is, there was measured. Roof, shadow, bush, treetops… Of course collodion is very sensitive to blue and UV and it’s not sensitive for red and orange. Also it’s very low sensible to green, so the lightmeter readings aren’t reliable, but it’s an estimate.

I decided for 20 second exposure, where blacks were transparent, empty. You don’t want to have blacks that are gray and whites that are gray as well! I’ve been blogging about contrast and density manipulation before (LINK). The second plate was a perfect negative. The scan did not capture full tonal range and missed most of highlights in trees, since I didn’t waste time with HDR scanning, but on the negative you can see perfectly tree tops.

Encouraged I decided to make a 10×12″ negative of a tree that I was photographing last few days. The tree is few hundred meters away from my home, so I set up the camera and went home for a plateholder. When I came back my daughters climbed the tree and I took this image. I just measured light in the black and it was 8 EV, so I exposed 30 seconds at f/5.5. Tomorrow or day after I’ll make a carbon print from the negative. Markele is also making a video. It’ll be fun.

THis weekend I went to Pula to put down my exhibition. We’re planning to make a week long wet plate workshop at Croatian seaside. Dates aren’t fixed yet, but it’ll be in the beginning of June. Interested?


Written by Borut Peterlin

17 March, 2014 at 00:15

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