TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Homework on picking aesthetic for my next project

with 4 comments

20151107_7407

Toned silver-gelatine photograph of a December day, contact printed from 8×10″ collodion negative. The print is split toned with sulphide toner, Fomalux silver-chloride paper was used for contact printing and the fiber based paper was ferrotyped for high glossy surface.

I’ve made this beautiful print from a horrible negative. The good things about negative / positive process is that you can get away with many things. Two weeks ago I got my silver bath heavily contaminated because of unfortunate event that I want to forget, I cleansed that silver with kaolin, sunning and filtering, but it still wasn’t good. The silver bath was good for ambrotypes, but for negatives, it was fogging. I’ve kept that negative and I love it a lot. When I came home I repeated the cleansing process and it’s OK now.

Next week I’m going to photograph EU border that is barb-wired to prevent crossings of immigrants and refugees. The so called schengen border is very near my home, few tens of kilometres and I will go there and document it. I decided to go with Petzval lens, because it’s not covering fully the format and it has such a eerie feeling and communicate well my feelings about it. I’m still lingering about the final printing process, should I go with silver-gelatine photo paper (like the one above) or with albumen printing process. I will make an albumen print from another eerie negative and compare them.

This is a homework for every artist before starting to do the project, but especially important for a wet plate photographer, because of the extensive and precise preparation to make one photograph. Good, this is a good side being a wet plate photographer🙂

4 Responses

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  1. I think you ought to forego the Petzval and shoot with a modern Schneider. Make the prints as crystal clear and clean as possible – like O’Sullivan. I think romanticizing the Schengen and the misery of so many people would be to trivialize it with a pictorial aesthetic. Clean, hard, sharp as hell. IMHO.

    stephan jacobs

    9 December, 2015 at 14:57

  2. Thank you Stephen. I’m preparing a follow up video about the same issue. I have made plates with three different lenses and now I’m choosing which one to go. Petzval has a quality, but it’s like evergreen song, very catchy to your ears, but then how many times can you hear it before getting sick of it. On other hand I do not want to repeat the aesthetic of Ansel Adams, although I am a really huge fan of his legacy and the whole “New Objectivity” movement. Especially German branch of the new objectivity art movement, you know Sander, Renger-Patzsch, Bauhaus,… On other hand although I like their contemporaries Gursky, Ruff and other famous photographers from Duseldorf school of photography students of Bernd and Hilla Becher, I could never do the kind of work they do – for better or for worse!

    Borut Peterlin

    9 December, 2015 at 21:37

  3. Looks like a wonderful print, Borut. The coverage of the lens works well for the subject. I used to obsess over coverage, sharpness, scheimpflug etc when first starting in large format but since practicing the wet collodion process I am learning to ‘let go’ and appreciate happy accidents and technical imperfections.

    Luckily I’ve experienced no major contaminations in either of my two main silver baths, but I sun and filter them after every shooting session.

    Keep up the top shit

    Alex Gard

    10 December, 2015 at 11:16

  4. By the way… very much looking forward to your images of the EU border… should be fascinating and horrifying…. cheers

    Alex Gard

    10 December, 2015 at 11:21


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