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I’ve been doing photography since I was a kid, from age 11 and when I was studying photography at FAMU Academy in Prague, we had to submit finalised project in a book form. I didn’t had the money for a book binder, so I’ve done it myself. I wasn’t a good bookbinder, but I loved the process of book making. I knew then that I want to do more books, I knew I love it, it’s perfect medium for my photography!
Fast forward 21 years later I’ve made about 30 handmade books, but I’ve published only one book, the book Tales from Gorjanci Hills and here is the link to the images. Technical note for photographers: those images are all shot on 6×7 format colour negative film! It was selectively illuminated and all done in one go. It took me 30-60 minutes for a single shot and because I wasn’t sure what has film recorded I repeated the take, so it was very slow progress.
Anyway all those years I tried to publish a book. I got great reviews and invitations for show, my work is published in many books if I mention few: Fabrica 10: From Chaos to Order and Back, Generation “74” and numerous art catalogues and magazines like Museum Duolun from Shanghai, Days Japan from Tokio, Nikon magazine, …
But as I’ve expressed myself frustratingly, I did not managed to publish an art book of my own. Now this is going to change. Today is 14th of May 2016. In one year time I will publish an art book of my own. My cunning plan is revealed in the video. The information that I saved for my next video is that I am not intending to do a video that will be a checklist of to-do list, no Sir, but I will make a video journal of my weekly steps in making the book published.
I was thinking which book should I publish first and on the end I’ve decided that if I want to make this vlog really interesting I have to start from scratch. I am starting a episode 01 of the series 01 without a single photograph taken. Don’t worry everything else is ready. On Monday rain will stop and then I’m off the leash!
Please do share the video, press like, subscribe and if you can afford to buy me one tea per month, please visit my patreon page. Lastly let me say I can’t answer all the email questions about the process, but I do answer to all the questions asked by my patrons, which is a great deal for 1$ a month support.
PS: To all my fellow european wet platers, I hope you will have a great time in Eindhoven at European Collodion Weekend, I am not coming because the very next weekend I’m traveling to Barcelona to Revela-T festival, where I have two workshops and a demonstration. Next year I will come to ECW with the new book, I’m sure of that!
PPS: Disclaimer voice by Fiona Campbell.
Today is funeral of Božena Pelikan, 95 year old youngest daughter of Josip Pelikan. I was privileged to spend some time with her, listen her advices how to do negative retouching, how to do portrait photography – properly and all the stories that were embedded in the old glass skylight Pelikan Studio. I’m glad I visited her just few days before her death. She had severe dementia, but she remembered me as the one who likes dogs! On her deathbed she was telling me how photography is a noble and nice profession. It has many downsides, but on the end of the day she is happy to be a photographer! This Saturday I have a portrait sessions in this studio, next weekend I have a workshop in the Pelikan studio. Božena lives in photography on!
Danes je pogreb Božene Pelikan, 95 letne, najmlajše hčere Josipa Pelikana. V čast mi je bilo poslušati njene nasvete kako se retušira steklene negative, kako se dela portretna fotografija, ampak ta spodobna portretna fotografija, in poslušati vse zgodbice prepojene s tem čarobnim steklenim studijom. Vesel sem, da sem jo obiskal par dni pred njeno smrtjo in kljub napredni demenci se me je spomnila, kot tistega, ki ima rad pse. Še na smrtni postelji mi je pripovedovala kako je fotografija lep poklic. Ima veliko slabih strani, a na konec koncev je srečna, da je bila fotografinja! V Studiju Pelikan, to soboto, zopet portretiram in naslednji vikend imam fotografsko delavnico. V fotografiji Božena živi naprej.
I’ve made this video about recycling silver from waste water after development of a wet plate collodion plate. Sure I heard comments before that silver is not poisonous, but that is not true. Silver is a noble metal and it’s antiseptic, which means two things. It does not disintegrate and it will get in the river and from there to organisms and will remain there forever!Silver is not poisioness to human, but it’s very toxic to marine life!
If I quote a marine scientist Flegal “Unlike mercury, silver is not a human health concern. But silver is second only to mercury in its toxicity to marine invertebrates,”. So we photographers have to treat this precious noble metal responsible with awareness for the environment!
I would like to thank you for subscribing to my blog, youtube channel and foremost my patreons on Patreon.com platform, that are supporting this content by crowdfounding.
Last but not least, this blog is financed also trough print sales via ebay auctions. The auction from the print is ending in few hours, so if you can afford, bid on it and if you can’t afford it, spread the love.
And remember, topshit happens!
Although I used to work for Fabrica.it, a research communication centre of United Colors of Benetton group, fashion photography never really interested me. Fashion never interested me either. But then again fashion photography is just a photography, so if you can make landscape photography, then you can make fashion photography, right? Wrong. There are many beautiful landscape photographs, but photographers ruin the photo by forgetting to dress their models! D’oh!!!
In my case, if a stylist and make up artist take care of their part of the job I will certainly not fail in photography part of the job. I understand light and flashes very well. I can feel it on my bladder what the end effect will be if I change the set up of lights. I guess every photographer who learned photography in film era had to develop a skilful bladder to see a photograph while taking it and not only after the films were developed. I know that doesn’t make sense for the new generation of photographers and rightly so! New era, new technology, new rules, new photographers! Good, don’t listen to old cold farts! I never did, either!
These images are of Jana and Jerica, girls from my neighbourhood. They have ambition for modelling and I was asked to make few portraits of them. As it happens two students of photography were also assisting me, Sanja Gorišek and Nastja Frey Gorše, so I’ve proposed that they should start collaborating. I’ve gave them my equipment with the following instructions:
The first lesson that I will give you is the most important of all! Here you have my equipment and do some photography. Nobody is expecting anything from you, so this is the perfect time to learn how to enjoy the game of photography. If you will not learn how to enjoy your profession, you will suffer immensely and more successful you will be, the worse it will be! So the lesson number one is the most important one, that is to enjoy the profession you intend to devote your life upon!
After occurred half an hour, the four girls relaxed, started to collaborate and enjoyed the shooting. I’m publishing portraits that we’ve done together, some were done by Nastja and Sanja alone, some were done by them with my guidance and some were shot by me. If you can’t distinguish which one are done by me and which are done by Sanja Gorišek and Nastja Frey Gorše, then that’s fantastic, my job is done!
We’ve used Nikon D4, Speedlights SB910 and SB800 with transmitter, Balcar Jazz flashes, Electrona flash feeder, firefly soft box, one large soft-box and that’s about it. In fact, Slovenian national TV made a short interview with me, while we were working together. You can click on THIS LINK and go to the end of the clip, to 17:09 minutes.
Sunday was a good day. 15 years ago me and my wife (girlfriend at the time) we took a course for glider plane and yesterday we celebrated our 20th anniversary at the airfield. This is my first flight after six years at very bumpy weather. Flying is like riding a bicycle, you never forget, but still an instructor is good to have.
A month ago I was in George Eastman House in Rochester on a workshop of glass negative retouching. I made a personal resolution to do a pilgrimage to GEH once a year, as it’s was very inspiring experience to learn from fantastic mentors, Mark Osterman and Nick Brandreth . Furthermore at these workshops you are invited in the GEH’s collection where examples from history of photography are presented.
Retouching basically means drawing and I do not know how to draw or better I have still much to learn about drawing. Nevertheless I’m satisfied with the results presented in the video. Of course, retouching of eyes is the most difficult thing, but my clumsy retouching is what makes the image scary. If you look at the albumen print from a retouched negative, you would never guessed that it’s retouched, if you would not see it doing and if you were not an expert in retouching. I trust my wife’s opinion, she is very cruel in her judgement toward my work and she said it’s OK. And her opinion with all due respecte overrates Mark Osterman’s opinion, which I know it’ll be critical. I totally follow his teaching, but on the aesthetic point of view we often respectfully disagree. I love his work, perfect in any view, but you see my character is different. I’m not a tidy person, I don’t find my plates messy. I could make them totally technically perfect, but I welcome some stains on corners of my plates. Like my sink, it’s not dirty! It simply isn’t! Yes it does has many silver stains and I will not clean them with aggressive chemicals, because that would just be Sisyphus’s work! So under topshit doctrine, cleaning a sink basically means irresponsible pollution of environment and consequently burning in hell! Ha!!!
Where was I?
I learned a lot at this workshop. Like I’ve down hundreds of salt prints already, but observing Mark making salt prints I’ve learned many small tricks. One of it is the following. For sensitising salt paper we usually use cotton ball and then we trow it away. What Mark does is after senzibilisation he squeezes the remaining silver nitrate into a jar and then recover this polluted silver. How brilliant is that?! Just think how much silver nitrate is thrown away with filtering, sensitising and so on? In a month time with this practice I saved almost one decilitre of silver nitrate! I can’t write all the tips & tricks I’ve learned from Mark, since that would be more suitable for a book, then a blog
Let me finish this blogpost with a very comforting information that if with retouching you screw up the negative, you can undo it! For instance. If you add too much graphite on your negative, you can wipe it away with fine powder of a cuttle fish. That’s the white powder I was using in the video. With it you can remove unwanted retouching. You can also do the more drastic measure like removing whole varnish from the negative and with it the mistake you’ve made. Remember, the retouching is not happening on the collodion, but on the varnish.
That’s the main difference between dry silver-gelatine negatives and collodion negatives. Silver-gelatine negative can be scratched into emulsion whereas collodion has very very thin layer of silver (that’s what it makes it the sharpest photography medium ever) and if you would try to scratch silver from collodion negative, you would scratch it right trough.
So, Mark gave me also information on collodion-chloride paper and when I was at home, I try it, but I haven’t dry the paper sufficiently and the collodion-chloride paper got stuck on the collodion negative. I basically ruin it, the negative can not be used anymore. Then I took alcohol, diluted it to 85% and start washing the negative in the alcohol. The varnish dissolved and with it also collodion-chloride emulsion. This is not the work for light hearted one, because you can easily ruin the negative, especially if the collodion used for the negative was old. Old collodion is fragile and lost it’s flexibility and therefor it’s very fragile. There was a small chance that Mark was using very old collodion, so I washed the varnish away and revarnished the plate again. Now I can retouch it again.
The two photographs that I’ve made are available for purchase on Ebay. I added also the third one, but this one is from unretouched negative. I made it later then the video, my wife says that it’s my best photograph and so it is. You don’t want to argue with my wife, OK? Trust me on this one!!!
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I feel privileged to be a photographer of Anton Podbevšek Teater, an avant-garde theatre. Past week there was a theatre performance dealing with a topic of a human to resist to cause a resistance. This is a teaser and photographs I’ve made. It’s great to spend time with such a talented artists and being a witness of a production of a theatre performance. Photographs and this short video teaser was done by me.
Concept: Beton Ltd.
Concept and creation of short films: Rok Biček,
Klemen Dvornik, Žiga Virc
Music: Dead Tongues (Janez Weiss, Jure Vlahovič)
39. premiere of Anton Podbevšek Teater