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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!!!
Please follow the link bellow. I’m blogging for already nine years, I’ve wrote more then 1000 blog posts and I’m receiving emails to publish more, make more videos. I would love to, that would be my dream job, but as a professional photographer, I need to make a living and support my family first. That said, if you would consider to give me a tip for the videos I make and the information I share, it would be most appreciated. You can tip me via Paypal and my paypal account is email@example.com
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
In Friday’s issue of Mladina weekly there will be an article about my portraits and I’ve made this self-portrait today with the help of my wife Alenka Peterlin. The inspiration for the portrait was a couple. First I’ve heard many times, that in wetplate technique I look like a native American, second inspiration was to include an element of exploration and third was that it should look raw.
That’s my aim in photography to explore, search and learn. I know I’m doing it in primitive, raw way, but that’s exactly me, having a hell of a good time. Photography is for me what for some people religion is. A mean to become a better man, to transcend boundaries that were set, to change the world. I hope this (blind) faith is captured in the image ;-)
Technical side: It was pretty cold, like -2C and to work at this temperature I’m using a normal developer, I’m just developing longer. Usually about 30-35seconds. I extend also sensibilisation of a plate from usual 3 minutes to 5 minutes. And that all there is. Sometimes I add two drops of nitric acid in 100ml of developer, but that’s not so important at working bellow 0C. It was a lot of light so the exposure was 3sec, f/11. This portrait was taken with Kodak Folding Brownie 3A from year about 1905.
I couldn’t have done the portrait without my lovely wife Alenka Peterlin, she is also a photographer. Thank you ;-)
You can see this and many other of my creative portraits on the exhibition in the gallery of Institut Jozef Stefan. Opening Monday 18.2.2013 at 18.00.
Uf, this day are fleeing as crazy. I’ll try to make short posts with lots of images. With Miša Keskenović we had a workshop of Wet Plate Collodion in Trieste and few days later I had a demonstration of Wet Plate Collodion photography in Maribor. Last but not least I’m running a class on collodion photography on VIST college. What I am trying to say is that my life is evolving around Wet Plate Collodion photography and I must say I’m enjoying immensely. It just takes so much time… Today I started to work on a real proper photographic personal project and in four hours I’ve shot like four perfect photographs. It takes a lot of time and patience to make it perfect, but that’s as I call it zen thing. With Miša we have next workshop on Fotopub festival in Novo mesto, Slovenia between 25 till 28 of July 2012. It’s going to be for four days and we accept only 10, maximum 12 people, no more! The fee is 250EUR and that includes material costs. Hurry, I know this will be sold out before the deadline.
PS: Pictures from the workshops are taken by Branimir Ritonja (MB) and Dr. Photo (TR)
Yesterday I bought a telescope bar so I can hang a backdrop outside. I never liked to photograph on a seamless background, but with this classic camera I fall in love in this clean aesthetic and so I bought this expensive bar, that allows me to set up a background just anywhere. Yesterday I photographed two artists. Hanna Preus is an artist dealing with sound art, I made this portrait for Mladina weekly and second one I made by pure coincidence. Žiga called for an information and since he asked me to make his portrait quite some time ago and I was on a highway, just passing his house, I stopped and made his portrait. I use this classical beauty Linhof Technika, format 9x12cm. For illumination I use northern light, photographing in the shade as old masters did and as Richard Avedon made his portraits In the American West. How do you like it? Is it better then Avedon’s? Ha, ha, I’m not pushing my luck, just joking, I had to ask :-)
Darko Slavec is a painter whose exhibition is closing this Sunday in Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti. His work is dealing with micro and macro cosmos and human existence in between. In his paintings few symbols are present in this or another way. Foremost bread, stars, universe, black hole,… Link to his pictures.
When I was talking to him I got this idea that I would like to make a picture that would reflect his work more then a usual portrait. I bought this photoshop class at Creativelive and armed with new knowledge of wrapping and displacing images, I said to myself: And Now for Something Completely Different. Second picture I’ve done more in conventional manner. In Mladina weekly the second image will be published. Which one do you prefer?
More of my creative portraits on my site: www.borutpeterlin.com