TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Archive for the ‘analog photography’ Category

Barbed wired final frontier of EU

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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.

Now, finally, I can devote myself again to documentary photography I cherish so much. My theme is The Final Frontier of EU, more precisely the EU’s Schengen border. To prevent migration of refugees from Syria and immigrants from other places, Slovenian government decided to put barbed wire on our south border!

 

71WHId5NVOL._SL1500_Imagine that!?! I do not know what think and what will they solve with what? Imagine that thousands of refugees will flood across the river Kolpa to Slovenian soil and take a stand there! What will Slovenian government do then? I mean it’s not 1939, journalists are all around and on top of everything we should pretend to be civilised, so we set barbed wired fence. To stop what and who? Deers?

Most of my readers don’t know much of history of Slovenia and there is no reason why should you know, but in this context I will say few lines. Slovenia used to be part of Yugoslavia, governed by communistic regime that resist Stalin’s politic and therefore received a lot of

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Deer that died in huge pain. Photo: Tine Lindič

sympathy from West and East. There was a very real threat that Soviet Union will invade Yugoslavia like they did to Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and others. Churchill delivered The Iron Curtain Speech in 1946 and its south-east border was actually Slovenia (that was part of Yugoslavia at the time). So what I’m trying to say is that in the past we experienced some really difficult times and inspire of being threatened with invasion, even when the Iron Curtain was being set on our borders with Italy and Austria, even in the dark times like this, our ancestors did not think of making our country like barbed wired concentration camp!

That said Slovenian nation, we deserve the finger up our asses, for being a faithful servants of our masters, support the imperialistic war in Iraq and dismantling Middle East, being quite at violation of human rights issues, buying particular arms and basically everything we supposed to do, to receive crumbs from the table. There is solely one good lesson to be learned from this refugee crisis. The whole Europe and the world has learned that whatever war happens wherever in the world, we will have in a month time refugees knocking at our door! USA is safe, they do not care, but people we have learned that you can not cross a border as a single person, but a flow of hundred thousands of refugees is unstoppable!

I say this in first person, because on the contrast to most of you, I do not exclude the scenario that I and my family might need to flea from a future war. I was 9 years old, I still remember very clearly, we had a lunch, I was being very picky and my grand father said, appreciate the food, because tomorrow it might be another war. I was laughing at him, thinking how silly he is, but not even ten years later we had a war!

Topshitest dark-box in the world!

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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!

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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.

 

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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!

Christmas special video on albumen printing and wet plate collodion negative

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Ha, I finally finished my Christmas special video, few days after Christmas, but never mind. In this video I’m researching different lenses from Petzval Gasc & Charconnet from 1860’s to Voigtlander Heliar from 1930’s to Schneider Tele-Xenar from 1970’s. Then I’m making albumen prints from wet plate collodion negatives and I’m analysing the results. It’s my home-work for my new project on Schengen border that is wrapped in barbed wire, but more about it later.

Screenshot 2015-12-27 15.17.45.pngOf course I’m listing the best print on Ebay as an auction from $ 0,99 USD and I’ve set it for five days, so it will be ending at the end of the year. Party like it’s 1999! I’m really happy with this work, it’s my final home-work, before starting a new project. As you probably know, European Union is a union of different countries, but the official – police- border is not set at the final frontier of the EU, but it’s actually set on the border of Slovenia and Hungary, if we are talking about south east border. HERE is a link about the Schengen Area of 26 countries and HERE is how it looks in barb wire! I will devote a post about my new project, probably before the end of the year.

About the print, I hope you like it, it’s the best I can do. It’s the closest I got to the perfect albumen prints done by Eadweard Muybridge, that I’ve seen in George Eastman House. In the print I’ve invested absolutely all the knowledge I have about wet plate collodion negatives, albumen printing processes, large format cameras and photography on general.

And you can tell, I’m not taking any shortcuts! Some people prefer to drive a car, fast cars, but I prefer to walk. Sure, it takes much more effort and yes, I might arrive at the same place much later then everybody, but when we will arrive to our goals, although standing side by side, we will not be the same people, as we started the journey. And… I prefer to walk, I prefer to do hand-made photography.

If you want to learn the process properly, you need to go to George Eastman House, where you will see vintage prints from Masters of Photography and you will be thought by a master of photography, Mark Osterman! If you are based in EU, you don’t need me to express my condolence, but you can also take some of my topshit workshops. Schedule for 2016 is coming soon.

Last but not least, I must tell you that I’m over flooded with emails concerning details about the process. I can’t answer all of them, but I do make a reply to every question asked by my patrons, so if you want to join the crowd, please visit my patreon.com/borutpeterlin site.

Thank you for supporting my work, either trough bidding on my prints, sharing my videos and foremost being my patreon. I appreciate it a lot!

 

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)

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Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 00.11.49

 

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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

Topshit Photo Safari was a success!

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Dear readers of my blog, I’m back! Not that I’ve left anywhere, but I was working really hard to make my workshop happen. I organised a five days workshop, two days working outdoor and three days working indoor. We covered wet plate collodion negatives, albumen printing, salt printing and collodion chloride printing. After that I had another two days of individual workshop on carbon printing. Very intense indeed!

I’ve decided to set up our headquarters in Sitarjeva hiša, a house from 1886 and was abandoned for last 17 years. It did not had a running water or electricity, but with the generous help of Anže Grabeljšek, Sanja Gorišek, Nastja Frey Gorše and municipality of Dolenjske Toplice, we sorted things out! I had many concerns and I had two back up options, but the house with it’s charisma is destined to host more art events! In fact I’m exhibiting new work there, so let me invite you to the exhibition of my panoramas on 27th of August at 7pm.

Expect more topshit events like this! For now I’m going to organise a workshop with a theme: Tribute to Ansel Adams. I’m planning a workshop on analog photography, with medium and large format cameras, for about 8 people. We will do rafting, camping, off roading and developing contact prints. We will explain the zone system, have a talk in the middle of forrest about Adams’s work and legacy… It will be 4th and 5th of September. The price for it is 250 EUR and includes cameras, films, paper, chemistry and food while camping. (Če razumeš slovensko, si avtomatsko zaslužiš konkreten popust) I know it’s short notice, but I have friends who already booked, so only few spaces are available, so we will not wait for you, but don’t worry, I will have more workshops. More topshit workshops is what we need! I will make an official notice in the following days. My email is borutpeterlin@gmail.com

I’m talking also with Nikon, we might make a photo-safari trip on digital photography during wine picking season. And I’m thinking to organise a collodion new year celebration in some cottage deep in the forrest of Slovenia (or is it properly written Slovakia?!?) What do you think, is it topshit enough idea?

Anyway, please check the images bellow and read captions and remember…
Topshit does happens!

Topshit Centre of Photography opens!

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Today was a great day. Months of preparations, planning and hard work calumniated in the introduction of the house of Sitarjeva hiša in a new role. We’ve installed a darkroom, daylight working room, chilling room, a gallery and a dance room!

The house was made in 1887, but it was for last seventeen years abandoned. It does not have running water, electricity or heating. But We will change that. We are changing that! With the generous help of Anže Grabeljšek, Nastja Frey Gorše, Sanja Gorišek and municipality of Dolenjske Toplice, we are reviving the house in the centre of Dolenjske Toplice.

Everything is ready for the beginning of the topshit photography workshop in the centre of the topshit world! Expect more news from the workshop, expect traveling, adventure, weird creatures in castles, driving off road, swimming, rafting, camping, visiting museum collections and foremost making wet plate collodion negatives, salt prints and albumen prints.

Oh… Today we had a visit already! On Sunday I was portraying on the streets of Ljubljana and by pure coincidence I’ve met a journalist from USA, who is researching exactly what I do, traveling, workshops, creativity and adventure. Today she came for a visit and made an interview. I am not kidding you, it’s true! Hey, I’m preaching this all the times, so let me repeat again:
TOPSHIT HAPPENS!!!

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