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borut peterlin, slovenia, ambrotype, Portrait photography, Wet Plate Collodion, Analog Film photography

Archive for the ‘Alternative photography process’ Category

Book dummy The Great Depression by Borut Peterlin

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Huh, I’m really happy today. I’ve shipped my book to The European Publishers Award for Photography . This is one of the most important photography awards in Europe and I’ve sent my dummy books before, but this time I’m really happy, because I know I’m sending something I truly believe in and furthermore I know I can not make it better. I, personally, did my best in making this book. I was contemplating a lot and I’ve made several versions, changing design, changing format, printing materials, rhythm of the images in the book, number of pages, select out certain images that I really love and so on. Now I feel very content with it. I can not make it better. I am not saying it can’t be done better, but I can not do it better. You may compare this version of the book with the version I’ve brought to Arles Festival and you will notice the difference.

This project The Great Depression was also shortlisted for European Month of Photography Arendt Award! It’s huge honour to be short-listed among few hundred photographers that exhibited in different capitals of Europe. The short list of only five photographers was chosen by the jury of curators and it’s not the kind of competition that you can apply to. I will be exhibiting in the exhibition space of Arendt & Medernach’s headquarters in Luxembourg from 22 April 2015 onwards.

Let me take the opportunity to announce few more news. A week ago this blog reached 500 followers on wordpress.com platform and this week is already 535 and if I count several thousands followers on Twitter and Facebook, it’s huge crowd, so I don’t want to waste your time, so I will write more information in one post.

At the end of the May I’m visiting also Photography festival in LODZ, Poland where my project The Father’s Tale is a finalist for the Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2015 award.

If you are from USA, you can see my work on two locations.

As I was posting already, a triptych The Different Same is exhibited in the Mariani Gallery from January 20 – March 4, 2015. The address is University of Northern Colorado, Mariani Gallery, 501 20th St, Greeley CO 80639, USA

From 21st of February until 4th of April, you can see the albumen prints bellow in Los Angeles, that’s St. Tammany Art Association, Antiquarian Image Exhibition, 320 North Columbia St., Covington, LA 70433.

Great Depression – a project by Borut Peterlin from Marcos Núñez Cid on Vimeo.

Exhibition of Wet Plate collodion landscapes

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In September 2014 I had an exhibition in Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana. I’ve enjoyed that period of life a lot, taking wet plate negatives, photographing river, defeating summer heat by a swim in a river together with my kids. What a privilege to be alive! I’ve recorded a lot a videos to pass on the knowledge I’ve generously received from Mark Osterman and the Collodion community. I’ve enjoyed the work so much I never found time to edit the video material and unfortunately the material just piled up. In the last few months I haven’t record any videos, because I knew I must edit the old material first and yesterday I’ve started at 9pm, finished at 3am and 12 hours later it’s live on youtube. I hope you will find some useful information and some inspiration in it.

The exhibition represents a path that I walked through in the last two years, while learning the process. But the exhibition started with the tintype of frozen river Krka, that I’ve made two months after I’ve started to do wet plate collodion at the temperature of -17C. HERE is the post from February 2012.

The exhibition is devoted to a painter Božidar Jakac and the concept is inspired by words of a poet Tone Pavček, engraved in his gravestone:

You’ve remained part of the landscape, its pain and its beauties.

And this concept is mirrored in the images, I wanted that in every of image there would be a presence of beauty and pain. I’ve designed the exhibition to be dynamic. I’ve exhibited original tintypes, ambrotype glass plates, toned albumen prints, salt prints, carbon prints, toned cyanotypes and also some toned silver-gelatine enlargements and ink-jets from wet plate collodion negatives.

The most important result from the two years walk, it can not be shown directly, but it’s the most important result. I’ve learned the process, I have no open questions and I can make a good image in (almost) any conditions. I’ve learned many different processes and those tools will play a crucial role in my future art career.

Last but not least, if you want to learn some of that hands-on photography processes, I warmly recommend workshops in George Eastman House with Mark Osterman. It’s one thing to learn the process, but it’s something different to get an access to one of the most interesting and rich collection of photography and feel that you are a part of it.

I can not offer that, but I do offer individual workshops, so if you’re interested in buying a print from me or a workshop, please send me an email to borutpeterlin@gmail.com

The Different Same triptych that will be exhibited at Wet Plate Collodion Juried Show in Mariani Gallery, Northern Colorado, USA

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An albumen print, double coated with albumen and twice hand coated with silver, toned with gold, contact copied from a wet plate collodion plate, format 10x12".

An albumen print, double coated with albumen and twice hand coated with silver, toned with gold, contact copied from a wet plate collodion plate, format 10×12″.

A carbon print on glass, contact copied from a (manipulated) wet plate collodion plate, format 10x12".

A carbon print on glass, contact copied from a (manipulated) wet plate collodion plate, format 10×12″.

An ambrotype, a wet plate collodion plate, format 10x12".

An ambrotype, a wet plate collodion plate, format 10×12″.

This work is a triptych. It’s a study of a medium of photography, so I’ve photographed the same tree in two different occasions. The scenery is like that only when the river Krka floods and red alarm for floodings is declared and that was on two occasions in the 2014 year. This three images were from three different glass plates. An ambrotype and two different negatives. Just look closely and you will notice how different this images are really. I’ve made a video on the first occasion and you can find it on the bottom of the post. I also came up with few new solutions how to frame glass plates, especially very heavy plates like 3+3 mm glass plates size 30x40cm (12×16″). The details are described in captions.

Anyway, what I love with the photography of 19th Century is that a photographer had about fifty processes and it’s variations how to make a photography and each of the processes had it’s aesthetic characteristic. Today digital photography is so standardized that a photographer have only one way how to exhibit a photograph, that’s an inkjet print.

And my triptych, entitled The Different Same is all about that. Like the famous photograph: Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967, by photographer Diane Arbus it appears at the first glance the same image, only when you look closer, you see that the three images are very much different and they are different because I – the author – decided to make it so. To interpret the reality as I please. Photography was never an objective medium. If I quote Susan Sontag (from heart), a photograph can only provide an evidence that something did happen, that something was happening in front of the lens. What has happened is an interpretation left to the photographer and the viewwer. Of if I may quote already mentioned Diane Arbus, “A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”

Let me invite you to the event. The exhibition will be on display in the Mariani Gallery from January 20 – March 4, 2015. A Closing Reception and Award Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, March 4 from 4 – 6 pm. Juror Quinn Jacobson will give a lecture and gallery talk during the day. The address is University of Northern Colorado, Mariani Gallery, 501 20th St, Greeley CO 80639, USA.

The rule of a Cheetah

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An albumen print toned with gold, from a wet plate collodion negative.

An albumen print toned with gold, from a wet plate collodion negative.

A wet plate collodion negative. The negative was solely subbed on edges of the glass plate and after 20 minutes of redevelopment, it got torn in a surreal way. I've dried it  on heat and varnish it.

A wet plate collodion negative. The negative was solely subbed on edges of the glass plate and after 20 minutes of redevelopment, it got torn in a surreal way. I’ve dried it on heat and varnish it.


A friend of mine who is a very successful business man told me the rule of a Cheetah. Cheetah is the fastest running animal and it can reach the speed up to 121 km/h. For achieving that kind of speed it uses wast amount of energy. If the chase was not successful, if the pray runs away, the cheetah needs to rest for the rest of the day. In the next week Cheetah has two more attempts to chase down a pray. If the predator misses a pray for the third time, cheetah dies from exhaustion.

The same rule can be applied in business. You may have a wonderful product, the best one in the world, but if you don’t sell it, you will never be able to launch another one and your business will get exhausted.

This is the problem of my life. I’m passionately interested in so many things at the same time, I have a hard time to focus and limit my interests. I have a good excuse, I live in small country of Slovenia, residents of two million so to make a living in such a small market is difficult. The good side is that I’ve learned so many things and I can use them all in my expression. Like at the moment I’m writing this post fiddling with HTML code, in the afternoon I was making albumen prints and before noon I was fixing a carburettor of my car, an old-timer. Before the end of the day I might start editing a video. And oh, this is important, for lunch I’ve made a fantastic risotto with curry, vegetables and soya chunks.

I love making stuff and I have no fear in tackling things, even if I’m not successful, which happens. Like yesterday I’ve cleaned the carburettor, the engine was running smoothly I went for a quick ride, but the rust from the fuel tank got into my engine and the car lost all the power. I had to call my neighbour to winch me home again. Look at the bottom of the post.

But my new year’s resolution is to declutter my life style, to focus. I will focus my career into three branches.

  • My priority number one remains my artistic career, although I can’t live from it just yet, I expect that in 2015, this will change. It will change, I can feel it on my bladder!
  • In next few months I will crack down the woodburytype process, I’m very close, I can see the light!
  • Workshops, making portraits, building a social network.

Let me finish with the a success story of the year 2014. Brewery Pivovarna Laško is celebrating a 190’th anniversary and for that occasion they are bringing to the market a special beer made from a hundred years old receipt. My task was to portray the three experts from the brewery company as specialists. The campaign was conceived by Atelje Balant and now Slovenia is still flooded with collodion images!
At this occasion I would like to thank Anže Grabeljšek and Christian Klant on assisting me during this intensive shoot.

The digital photo by Vid Klančičar jr.

Photo: Vid Klančičar jr.

My neighbour winching me home after my carburettor was jammed with rust from  rusted fuel tank. When I came home I ordered a new fuel tank and new fuel pump.

My neighbour winching me home after my carburettor was jammed with dirt from rusted old fuel tank. When I came home I ordered a new fuel tank and new fuel pump.

Written by Borut Peterlin

2 January, 2015 at 23:54

Making portraits at Art Market in Ljubljana, Slovenia

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Last weekend was an Art Market in Ljubjana, Slovenia, and I’ve decided to give it a go. I set up my darkroom, lights, camera and brought few examples of my work. The Art Market was lasting four days and first two days I’ve made maybe four portraits, but then an avalanche of orders came in and I was working from 10.00 to 20.00 with a 15 min break for a snack. The plates were coming out great. Even my wife who can hardly be impressed by a collodion plate, was amazed how good it turned out.

My secret is the following. I’ve made my collodion wo days before the market, based on standard Osterman’s collodion (3gr CdBr, 4gr KI, 220 collodion, 140 alcohol, 140 ether) the only modification was that I replaced ether with the same amount of alcohol. I was working indoor so I couldn’t afford that the whole building would be smellin ether. I used 99% fine-grain alcohol. The collodion didn’t ripen yet, when I was start using it, but that’s OK if you don’t overdevelop. So my collodion was very young and super fast. I was getting great contrast, because contrast of the plate it does not relate to the age of collodion, but it relates to exposure & development time. If you overexpose and under develop you will get a soft low-contrasty image and vice versa. Because the young collodion I’ve mentioned is about 2 f/stops faster then the old one, photographers usually over-expose the collodion, cut the development, get low contrasty plates and claim that’s collodion fault. It is not. You can see the contrast I was getting with my two days old collodion.

I was using two flash lights, Balcar Source 6400Ws, but I’was using only one flash, that’s 3200Ws and my aperture was 6,7. Pretty cool numbers, right?

Last but not least, a big thanks to Grega Cokan and Anže Grabeljšek for their generous support!

The portrait session was exceptionally good accepted and I’m intending to repeat it on the last Saturday of the January, at the studio in downtown of Ljubljana, beside Ljubljanica river. More about that later. This experience gives me an idea. In August 2015 I’m invited for artist’s residency in Norway, Sunnhorland Museum, and I will travel by car to the north stopping on the way, giving workshops, demonstration and portrait sessions. Travelin photographer as they’ve done it 150 years ago!

PS: Here is a quick video from a couple of years ago, just you can see how I was working then.

I developed a new behavior disorder – Land Rover 109, year 1972

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Last week I’ve bought a “new” car, Land Rover 109, Station Wagon, model year 1972. It used to be imported in Yugoslavia (RIP) in 1982, serving as a firefighter’s car and in 1999 was a gift for a fiftieth birthday of a car mechanic which restored it entirely but never registrate it, so it was standing in a garage for last fifteen years. Last week I’ve bought it. In two weeks I’m turning forty and this is a gift and a tool I bought myself. Otherwise I hate cars. If I could I would rather spend hours on bicycle or running to do my travelings, but I can’t. If I need a car, I wanted to buy a car that is not boring and let’s face it, cars are boring as hell! They all look the same and the mantra of consumerism is “comfort über alles”. Guess what? COMFORT IS OVERRATED! And on top of that comfort is booooooooring to death!!!!!!

An ambrotype format 10x12" (25-30cm).

An ambrotype format 10×12″ (25-30cm).

A collector asked me if I’m selling ambrotypes, I don’t, because they are unique and I want to leave behind me a work that will tell a story. If I sell an ambrotype, that image will be on somebody’s wall and I and anybody else will never see it again. That is one of the reason I’ve chosen wet plate negative in my artistic career. But on the end of the day, I am a professional artist, I do this for a living, it’s not my weekend hobby, so I need to sell my artwork too. So I’ve been thinking and I came to this business model.

When I’m making my collodion landscape plates, I make two or three plates of the same motif and so if a person want’s to buy an ambrotype from me, he or she have two options:
Either pick it up from a gallery (that I’ve haven’t set up yet) and pay for the full price of an ambrotype 10×12″ that will be US $999.
Or the second option is that she or he can pre order a plate from me, so when I go next time out to do my art, I make another plate for the buyer. In this case the buyer can not choose a plate of his choice, it can only take the one I’ve made that day or decline it, no questions asked. The price in that case is less than half of it, US $399.

Sounds like a good and fair game right? Yes, I know, I would rather not be in a position that I need to sell my ambrotypes, but if you develop two habits like myself, you need to find a way to feed them!

My email is borutpeterlin@gmail.com and my website is www.borutpeterlin.com

PS: In my life I had several cars. They were all boring to death, except my very first car, Renault 4.

A portrait of myself from year 1998 by Jože Suhadolnik.  That's my first car, Renault 4. The sticker was real and it goes:  THIS CAR IS DRIVEN BY: and my signature.

A portrait of myself from the year 1998 by Jože Suhadolnik. That’s my first car, Renault 4. The sticker was real and it goes:
THIS CAR IS DRIVEN BY: and my signature.

 

The revival and the modernisation of woodburytype process – I DID IT!!!

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About a year ago I went to George Eastman House for a workshop of Carbon print process. To be honest before my arrival to Rochester, USA, I didn’t know what carbon print process is but if it was described as the king of all printing processes ever invented and I thought I might try it out. My main goal was to do the pilgrimage to George Eastman House and take a workshop under tutorship of Mark Osterman.

As I’ve expected the visit to GEH did blown my mind, I’ve seen original authentic prints of Julia Margaret Cameron, Eadweard Muybridge and many others. Mark Osterman shown us many gems of technical and aesthetic heritage from the history of photography. One of the things that stuck with me for the whole year was woodburytype process. Please take a look of the video at the bottom of this post, I’ve seen it so many times, I could repeat the words by heart!

Anyhow, down to the point, for the whole year I was thinking how to revive the woodburytype process. I have this vision to make my book in woodburytype process. The question why (almost) nobody (?) have done it in the last 120 years is obvious, it’s the most complicated process ever! For an 8×10″ print (20x25cm) you would need a press that would produce a pressure of about 500 tons per 8×10″ format! In 19th Century there were only two woodburytype presses in the world that were capable of making woodburytype prints size 8×10″.  I will not go into technical details, it’s beautifully explained in the video below.

When I told to Mark Osterman what is my vision, he advise me to stay away from authentic woodburytype process, but rather go for Stanotype process. What is Stanotype process I wondered? It’s another invention by Walter Bentley Woodbury (British, 1834–1885) with the same result, just it does not require those huge press to make a mold, that I’ve mentioned before. I’ve read everything I could about it, even Mark Osterman and Nick Brandreth were so kind to send me a digital copy of Stanotype manual written by Woodbury himself!

Last half a year I was working a lot. I knew that authentic Stanotype is not the answer, I knew I could modernize the process. And I did! On the images above are four (modernized) woodburytype prints and a carbon print on glass. The carbon print on glass has very little pigment and it’s made in a way to maximize the relief from which I’ve made a mold and from that mold I’ve made those prints.

Before you will make a judgement about my prints, let me explain that you need a press to achieve a good print from a woodburytype mold. The press that Mark Osterman is using in the video below. I don’t have one. At the moment I was just testing different materials and different processes. I’ve made one mold and today I was playing around with it. I didn’t had the press, so I’ve used these clamps, what’stheycalled. As you can tell I was speculating, changing parameters and the forth print is perfect! Well, it’s perfect, much better than I could ever thought in given circumstances! Because I was not using a press, but clamps, the pressure was not even, so the resulting print has patches of highlights and patches of black. But that doesn’t matter! What it matters is that I’ve made a modern woodburytype print from scratch and the result has blacks, it has highlights, it has contrast and it does have sharpness!!! I’ve learned all the crucial steps how to manipulate the process and created a modern woodburytype print!

I totally understand that perhaps you do not see anything special in these experiments of mine, but I’m just as excited as I was when I was 11 years old, learning photography with my dad’s russian Kiev camera, which light-meter was showing very wrong meterings, so every photograph that I took and I could recognize a motif being photographed, I considered a triumph!!! And that’s the case here! Perhaps you just see a bad print, but I see woodbury process revived and modernized, I see a printing house that will be the best printing house in the world and the first book printed in that printing house it will be my The Great Depression project. I even see an option how to do woodburytype prints from a digital file and furthermore in color and that is why in a month or so I’m flying back to Rochester to bring my modern woodburytype molds and compare them with authentic woodburytype molds from 19th Century.

Oh, I’m so happy, my buttocks are applauding!

PS: It’s too early for explaining how I’ve made the mold. I have to nail down the process entirely and finish with testing. I have three more concepts to test how to make a mold and then pick the best one. This was my first attempt.

PPS: I’m sure there are few individuals who are still doing woodburytype nowadays, but beside Oliver Barret, whose book was a help and inspiration in my research, I haven’t found anybody who would nowadays produce woodburytype kind of quality images. If you could help me finding other contemporary woodburytypes, I would be greatful.

Written by Borut Peterlin

29 October, 2014 at 01:19

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