Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Archive for the ‘analog photography’ Category

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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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

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:

Wet Plate Collodion Safari

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Video Collodion Journal, Vinica, Slovenia, 2.7.2015. This time I didn’t had perfect plates. They were OK, but it could be better so I finished the day in the river :-)
PS: One more space left for Collodion Photo Safari, 29th of Jully – 2nd of August 2015.—Negative-&-Printing/1/

Vantage point in photography / Wet Plate Collodion & Salt Print Process

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Salt print toned with gold, format 10x12" (25x30cm).

Salt print toned with gold, format 10×12″ (25x30cm).

In this video I’m presenting my creative process how am I approaching a motif conceptually and also physically. Wet plate collodion is so slow process that an hour or two of thinking is nothing in comparison how much it takes to make one photograph.

Before I start making an image I always play a devil’s lawyer with myself asking myself annoying questions; Why are you photographing that? Who have done that before you? Are you adding something new and fresh? What would Ansel, Edward, Josef, Sally, Mark & France and others would say if (when) they will look at it? Is it worth it? Don’t you have something better to do?

If I successfully manage to defend a concept, only then I start with preparations for the shoot. And this was the case also with this tree trunk. I’m running every day trough this forrest and I have a long list of trees, valleys and few roots that I need to photograph.

In the video I haven’t talked about technical details, although I did left few educational tips. Like pouring collodion. Please take a look three small details. First when I pour collodion, I tend to make a perfect circle in the middle. That means my plate is levelled and I can pour a lot of collodion on the plate. Then I slowly, very slowly move collodion from edge to edge and on the end I slowly pouring collodion off. Yes, you got it, the key word is do it slowly, no need to hurry. This is the speed I usually do it indoor. Outdoor it’s usually drying faster, but that day was pretty cold and my collodion for negatives has more alcohol solvent then ether solvent ratio, because alcohol opens collodion pores and allow more silver to bind, causing denser negatives. That’s just the opposite that you want for ambrotypes.

Nevertheless the negative that I’ve got was very thin and almost an ambrotype. I’ve done everything correctly, but the day was cloudy and in the forrest there was very diffused light. I’ve exposed the plate correctly, meaning that my blacks didn’t had any information, but although I developed for three minutes, the negative was still very thin, almost ambrotype like. This is what Mark Osterman calls a foundation negative.

The mistake photographers often do is that they add another one or two exposure values and when they develop a plate, the negative looks much better on the first glance. Whites are dense, middle tones are denser, but blacks are gone! If you overexpose a negative, blacks are not empty, but they have information, meaning that blacks aren’t black anymore but they are dark grey! Now, if your blacks aren’t black, you can’t redevelop! Let me explain why.

Redeveloping is a process that is done at home and it’s done after fixing. Let me describe the process in plain language. When you develop a wet plate collodion negative you get three things. Glass plate, collodion layer (a binder) and you have a thin layer of silver on top. This silver is not mixed with collodion, it’s suspended on top of the plate. That is the condition that you can treat the silver with iodine, making it sensitive to light once again and then you apply developer containing fresh silver that will be bound on the foundation silver that is already bounded with collodion. What happens now? Highlights that have a lot of silver in the foundation negative will attract much more silver then middle tones that have less silver then highlights. Blacks do not have any silver and therefore will not attract no additional silver. Redeveloping process is building silver layers and that means that you are gaining contrast and density of a negative. This redeveloping process can be done for very long time and you can build a bullet-proof density of a negative.

And that is what I was after! All my wet plate collodion negatives have a bullet-proof densities. It took me literally two hours of redeveloping that I gained the sort of density I wanted. Usually it takes between 10-30 minutes, but this is an exceptional case. The foundation negative was very thin, so it catches only little silver from the redeveloping and the second reason was that I wanted to make this right, so I was adding very little silver and slowly and gradually building up the contrast. If you do it too fast, you may get pinholes in the negative. Second version of this negative I’ve done it faster and it took me only half an hour.

The end result, presented here, is a salt print toned with gold. Salt Print process was invented by Henry Fox Talbot in year 1833 and publicly announced in 1839. In principle it’s very simple process, but if you want to make it right it’s very challenging indeed. Salt print process is the printing process with huge tonal scale. Correct me if I’m wrong but only carbon printing process has a wider tonal scale. And this wast tonality range is the cause that the process demands a negative that could match the same tonality range. By my humble opinion wet plate collodion negative is far far the best negative for print-out-processes (POP). Digital negative simply can not match the density necessary for full tonality spectrum. Simply, a thick layer of silver has much better quality in blocking light then a layer of inkjet dye. Salt print process is like a train, you can lean as much as you can toward left or right, the train will go where the tracks are laid. And the salt print process is the same, it will be as good as the negative is.

Anyhow here is my salt print and you be the judge of my vantage points on the photography, either is that conceptually, aesthetically or technologically.

The print and the ambrotype is for sale, please email me on for more details. Thank you for your attention!

Topshit Photo Safari, March 2015

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Dear friends from the world of digital,
I had 40th birthday last November and my intention was to organise a photo expedition with an oldtimer Land Rover 109, from year 1972, but the events went into different direction. For the last two months my car was broken and it was standing in my courtyard and since local mechanic, my neighbour didn’t bother to come and see, two Land Rover owners Miha Kaiser and Aleš Zorc came from Ljubljana and fixed the distributor and ignition tuning. Immediately I’ve decided that the time is right to organise a photo safari, so I’ve invited few friend and we’ve met on Saturday morning. We started at 9am and finished at 10pm in darkroom developing films. Please read captions to get more information.

But there is more then just celebrating my birthday. Some of you know that in 2001 I’ve founded Fotopub, a festival of documentary photography and I was running it for seven years. My intention is to organise another festival of photography, a festival of analog photography. The Analog Topshit Photography Festival! But since I’m very aware that this is a huge thing and I can not pull it off by myself, I want to take small gradual steps, by organising small events like workshops, talks, exhibitions, portrait sessions and so on. In one year the concept, the workflow, the organisation and the reputation should be set to lunch a real festival of analogue photography. As for now, please mark yourself the last week of July, from Wednesday 28th to Saturday 1st of August 2015. More information will follow.

Music in the video by Vasko Atanasovski Trio.


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