Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Topshitest dark-box in the world!

with 11 comments

Oh, I am so happy with this dark-box I’ve done in the last few days. In October 2014 I’ve bought a Land Rover Series 3 from year 1972 and it took me more then half a year that I started to trust the car and foremost my ability to fix it, or more often then not, recognising I need a help from a friend to do the maintenance of the truck.

I so much love photographing outdoor, especially documentary photography and you know how annoying is to do it in wet plate collodion process. Sure I’ve done it many times, you can get to a location, set up a tent and you work whole day at the location, clean the stuff and go home with bunch of plates. In the last four years that I do wet plate collodion photography, only twice it happened that I’ve set up a tent, took few plates, cleaned the place up, move to another location, set up the tent, do another bunch of plates, clean it and go home. It is so exhausting this moving. And moving a dark-box or a tent is not a problem, it’s to pour back all the chemistry, prepare it for transport… ARGHHH!!!

I had in mind for a long time a wet plate collodion mobile, a car that it will have a dark box and most importantly all other chemistry prepared in such a way that I would stop the car, set a camera, pour the plate, develop a plate and move to another location. I know few people have camper vans or even trailers, which is fantastic, but not suitable for my environment, not suitable for motifs I want to photograph.

Land Rover, Series 3, 109 LWB, Station Wagon, an old-timer from 1972 is perfect for my needs. It’s cheap to buy, it’s cheap to maintain (parts are cheap, but you have to do the mechanical work by yourself or go bankrupt),  it’s almost free to insure and foremost it looks good on you! Sure it’s not cheap to drive, it burns 13 litres of petrol per 100km (USA: 18 mpg), but it’s not a car for daily use, it’s a tool! I drive it about once a week down to the river or up into forests, near my house, to bring all the equipment,  I rarely make a trip longer then 100 km. You don’t want to drive long time with this car!

Screenshot 2016-01-02 23.16.42

A dark-box as a crate on a roof rack

Anyhow now I’m happy with my dark box. I need to make another shelf beside the dark-box on which I will have a bath with fixer or humectant and a box to store clean and exposed plates. On top of everything I can make a bed in my car! I can easily make a bed size 135cm x 180cm. OK, if I will have a dark box inside, it will be 50 cm narrower, but still plenty of space. When I was in Vienna PhotoBook Festival, I was camping inside the truck and had also a cooker for making soups, tea and other tasty meals. The dark box can be used also on the roof rack as a crate for storage.



River Susica, a wet plate collodion negative on glass, format 10x15cm, taken with Kodak Folding Brownie 3A, from about 1905. Exposure: F/64, 5 minutes, old collodion, silver bath 5,7pH

Today I’ve made a quick test before lunch to see if window is properly filtering daylight and I’ve made this wet plate collodion negative. It’s done with Kodak Folding Brownie 3A, from year 1905, it was one of the first compact cameras in the world! Amazing camera, I love it so much. The most important is that I’ve made the plate in about half an hour with all the setting up and going back home to catch the lunch.  This Land Rover and the dark box is the most important tool I have! It will make a wet plate collodion process natural and easy. So happy!

Last but not least, my new year’s resolution is to make more videos and blog posts. I am amazed how many people are following me trough social network! The Ebay auctions are going good, the last one reached about 230 EUR and then I’ve sold another copy of the print to an Italian bidder that lost a bidding against a bidder from USA. Of course the second albumen print from the last auction was sold for slightly higher price then the wining bid was. If I add up the support from my patreons and the commissions that I receive in Slovenia and workshops I have, I must say it’s going great. I want to thank you, by revealing my craft secrets, that I have none, inspiring others and being inspired by others.

Thank you and remember topshit 2016 happens!

11 Responses

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  1. Your excitement and joy are infectious. Congratulations! It works. I am waiting with baited breath to see what else 2016 has in store.

    Sheldon Izen

    3 January, 2016 at 10:10

  2. Ingenious, creative, and always imaginative! Happy New Year to you Borut.

    Paul Glen.

    3 January, 2016 at 12:12

  3. Without question, the Topshittest wetplate mobile anywhere! (With the topshittest wetplate photographer inside ;-). Happy New Year!

    Nick Devlin

    3 January, 2016 at 16:48

  4. The best! You are the Boss, Borut. I love all the little details and conveniences.

    Head Bastard

    3 January, 2016 at 16:54

  5. thx Gerald, yes, the little things makes the difference. Like the water hose is tied on elastic band, so after usage it returns to the wall, where some dripping will not do any damage.

    Borut Peterlin

    3 January, 2016 at 17:02

  6. Haha, you made my day. My dad’s in hospital (doing ok) and I needed a good positive pep talk by a Topshit guy with frozen eyeballs 🙂 Great video Borut! Happy New Year you and the family!

    John Fink Jr.

    5 January, 2016 at 00:06

  7. […] Dear readers, I’ve started a new project. I’m foremost documentary photography and ever since I got myself devoted to wet plate collodion process, I regretted the fact that I’ve parted with the spontaneity and playfulness of 35 mm photography. I desperately wanted to smooth my workflow, so the complexity of wet plate collodion process will not stand in my vision of documentary photographer, going around, taking pictures. That’s why I’ve made this invincible wet-plate mobile! If you are wet-plate practitioner you will appreciate a lot the content of this video, because wet-plate workflow has never been easier! Of course the dark-box is the key, as I’ve described in my LAST POST. […]

  8. tedostrowskiTed

    7 February, 2016 at 01:45

  9. Ha, ha… Yes, Gerlad used on a T Shirt. Now he is rich !-)

    Borut Peterlin

    8 February, 2016 at 01:02

  10. Hi Borut,

    At first when I watched the video about a week ago, I must admit I didn’t understand much why it was so cool. Now after reading and researching then watching the video once again. I’m impressed. The modelling rubber for the bath awesome idea. The fold down board for the wet/dry area over the basin – simple and practical. The old black jumper for putting your hand through – genius. It’s a clever box and I can see now how much thought went into it.

    It might be a silly question as I’m learning the process before I attempt to start, but I presume you do the Collodion on the plates outside due to fumes and the small space ? also regarding the fixer (KCN) too for safety you pour it outside ?


    8 February, 2016 at 12:32

  11. Thank you! Indeed the pouring of collodion is done outside, it’s nit light sensitive at this stage. If it’s windy, then yes, the darkbox is convenient shelter.
    I rarely use KCN fix. I have it, but use it seldom. Hypo is my preferred choice. Kcn has advantages, but obviously also disadvantages.

    Borut Peterlin

    9 February, 2016 at 20:28

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