Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Archive for the ‘workshop’ Category

Visiting Oliviero Toscani in Tuscany

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In December I took a part of a workshop of Oil print process and it’s a photographic process that delivers a photograph that is a combination of photography and painting.

The oil print process is a photographic printmaking process that dates back to the mid 19th century. Oil prints are made on paper on which a thick gelatin layer has been sensitised to light using dichromate salts. After the paper is exposed to light through a negative, the gelatin emulsion is treated in such a way that highly exposed areas take up an oil-based paint, forming the photographic image.

The workshop was organised by Arezzo & Fotografia and conducted by Roberto Lavini. We enjoyed it very much and I will write more about the oil print process when I will master it. I’m planning to do a photographic project of reevaluating fairy tales and this process might be perfect.

Before the workshop I’ve visited Oliviero Toscani, the photographer who made UC of Benetton famous with his campaigns. I worked with Oliviero Toscani and Rocco Toscani in Fabrica, the research centre of communication by United Colors of Benetton  in year 2000 and 2001. I enjoyed a lot the company of Oliviero and Rocco, but I haven’t recorded much since the visit was mostly of personal nature. But what I can say is that many ideas are brewed, when creative people are enjoying sun, lunch and wine. I’m coming back, for sure.

Contrast control in Wet Plate Colodion process

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Plate on the left was normaly exposed (5 seconds) and normaly developed (18 seconds), plate on the right was exyposed for 10 seconds and developed for only 8 seconds.

Plate on the left was normaly exposed (5 seconds) and normaly developed (18 seconds), plate on the right was exposed for 10 seconds and developed for only 8 seconds.

Few days ago I’ve finished a bacis collodion workshop and part of my workshop is a demonstration of contrast control in wet plate collodion process. I thought this might be intersting topic, so here’s a short post. Plate on the left is normaly developed and exposed and plate on the right is overexposed and underdeveloped. As you can see the middle tones are about the same, but the plate on the left has no details in highlights. This is usual push / pull process that is very well known in film photography and the same goes for wet plate collodion process.

Have you ever heard that a collodion mixture becomes more contrasty with aging? Well, that’s merly a false myth. Collodion becomes less sensitive and if a photographer is using the same exposure times with old colloodion, the plates are in fact undrexposed and on top of that overdeveloped, so of course the end result is much more contrasty then it was with fresh collodion, but if you want to have low contrast with old collodion, you only need to overexpose and underdevelop! So the cause of contrasty plates is not the age of collodion, but underexposure and overdevelopment.

This is what I’ve learned from Mark Osterman.

Here are two more plates that I’ve manages to make a reproduction of.



Scouting location in Croatia and Bosnia on a theme Yugo Nostalgia

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We’ve made scouting location around Petrova gora on the border of Croatia and Bosnia. In the future we might make adventure tours and photo-workshops with a theme “Yugo nostalgia”, visiting monuments and other fascinating locations from the time of Yugoslavia. If you’re interested, send me an email and check my site TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY.

The inspiration for the trip was a work by Jan Kempenaers and his project Spomenik 2006-2009 (Monument).  If I quote his description:

These structures were commissioned by former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito in the 1960s and 70s to commemorate sites where WWII battles took place (like Tjentište, Kozara and Kadinjača), or where concentration camps stood (like Jasenovac and Niš). They were designed by different sculptors (Dušan Džamonja, Vojin Bakić, Miodrag Živković, Jordan and Iskra Grabul, to name a few) and architects (Bogdan Bogdanović, Gradimir Medaković…), conveying powerful visual impact to show the confidence and strength of the Socialist Republic. In the 1980s, these monuments attracted millions of visitors per year, especially young pioneers for their “patriotic education.” After the Republic dissolved in early 1990s, they were completely abandoned, and their symbolic meanings were forever lost.

In the video I’ve included a well known speech of Tito: ” We’ve shed a sea of blood to create this Brotherhood and Unity…” which explains the importance of those monuments, but even more true and far sighted was the next quote “None of our republics would mean anything if standing alone, only if we stand together we can write our own history!”

How true that turn out to be! Now in Slovenia it does not matter how deep in shit are we, as long other former Yugoslav republics are one tiny step deeper, so we can say that it could be worse and we are happy! I’m not Yugo-nostalgic, but there are many statistic facts that are very Yugo-nostalgic, I must admit. To prove the point, let me repeat the most repeated sentence of my life: “No, I’m not from Slovakia, I’m from Slovenia!!!

If you would like to have a tour around these and other sites, send me an email and we’ll talk. It is certainly only appropriate for individual tours.

PS: In April finally a movie of my friend Žiga Virc will be premiered at Tribeca festival. We all are waiting for this great movie that  will be distributed by HBO Europe, among other TV networks. I’m mentioning this in a line of Yugo-Nostalgia that will become a trend, for sure!

Eleven workshops in the next half a year

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Screenshot 2016-02-15 21.18.54Dear readers of my blog,
I love teaching and I particularly love teaching collodion photography in the nature, so I came up with this program. There are eleven workshops, but actually I have one more for kids and one more for college students. Please follow THIS LINK and pay particular attention to the Photography Jamboree at the last week of July. It’s open public event, free of charge, based on volunteerism. The purpose of Photography Jamboree is to raise awareness of environmentalism through photography and through direct experience. I sincerely hope that the event will grow into a festival, next year. But that said I can not do it alone, I can do my photography alone, but not the festival of photography. I will do all in my power to gather a group of volunteers and with their generous help make an event that will bring people out of this hectic mad world and experience the peace of eternal forests. Please spread the word.

How to teach children photography as it would be pure magic!

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As you probably know I have done many workshops in my life, I even started and running a festival of documentary photography Fotopub for eight years. Even now I still have a workshop at least one every month. This week I had a workshop in elementary school for 8 year olds as a volunteer. Because I had many workshops for kids of different ages and tried different approaches, so in this post I will share with you the most effective way to introduce children to photography.

For children up to age of ten my workshop has three sages. First to present photography as a kind of magic, but a real magic, not a cheap trick!  Secondly they have to do the magic by themselves and most importantly to bring something home to show their parents “the proof” they were actually making magic!

Simple? It is! There are many ways to do it, but let me show you how I’m doing it. Firstly I ask if somebody in this room has ever take any photograph? You always want to start with simple question, something that everybody thinks, oh, I can do this! The next one has to be a tricky one. Can you make your own telephone with a camera?

Then I explain that photography in its principle is very simple process, very much like cooking. And we all know that cooking is kind of magic, how else can our mothers transform carrot, that we all know it is inedible and horrible into such a delicious soup?

… and today we will do just that, we will do magic! I hand them “the magic paper”, which is basically plain silver-gelatin photo paper. They lay on it a leaf (they had a homework to bring a leaf) and press it with a piece of glass. Few minutes later they already notice that the paper is turning dark-blue colour. Of course I tell them not to touch it, we will look the lumen print on the very end! (Jill Enfield on Lumen Prints)

Then we go outside and everybody looks trough a view camera and notice that the image is flipped upside down and that although their colleagues all have right hand in the air, through camera it appears that they are waving with left arm!  How could that be?

I ask them if somebody has ever seen the inside of a mobile phone or digital camera and always there is one kid (always a boy) that has seen whole lot of wires, cables, chips and other electronic stuff.

Then I ask if they want to see the inside of my camera, the old view bellow camera? Do you want to know the secret why is the projected image on the focusing screen turned up-side down and left to right? And everybody is getting so excited, but then I cover the camera with a black cloth, take away the lens, take away the focusing screen, look under the black cloth and make a silly face, being surprised what have I found out, then I remove the cloth and reach with my hand trough the camera.

They do not understand how is this possible that small mobile phone has so much electronics, whereas my large-format camera has only empty space. I explain them that the magic force in action is called physics! And the other magic force that record the photograph is called chemistry and let me show you how it works. I pull out of my pocket a film holder, we make a group picture. In the classroom I put the film in developing tank and ask one student to pour developer and the other to wipe any leak drops and take care of the timer.

I repeat that the photography is in its essence a very simple process and I take a candy-box and explain that this is a camera. Everybody laughs, but it is real camera obscure. We go in a tent, that is my mobile darkroom, load a pice of ordinary silver-gelatin paper and expose it on the window. We develop an image and sky is black, whereas a tree is white! How can that be, I ask?

We look at “the magic paper” with tree leaf on them on their desks and notice that the paper became dark. Why did it became dark, I ask? They are struggling with the concept that it became dark because it was exposed to the light. Then I ask them if it became dark because the paper was exposed to dark? No, in the classroom, light was turned on all the time. They came to a conclusion that it was actually the light that made the paper go dark! Then I ask them to look out of the window and ask which is brighter the sky or the tree and of course in reality the sky is bright and the tree is dark, whereas in the photograph we made with the candy-box camera obscure is just the opposite. They know the answer why it is so. Now it’s time to learn the new word: A NEGATIVE!

Meanwhile we developed and fixed the film of our group photo. We anxiously open the developing tank and long and behold, the photograph is actually a negative one! I say in amazement, that this can not be their photograph, since there are only black people on the film! Of course they recognise themselves, but I ask them how come they have black faces on the film? One bright kid (usually girl) explains that we are looking the same thing as it was the tree image from the candy-box. Correct, what is the name for it? The negative!

We speed dry the negative with a hairdryer and then we make a contact copy in the darkroom. It is great because the first contact-copy photographs are either too bright or too dark, but then we adjust exposure and the last prints are perfect! Why were those prints too bright? How did we solve it later?

There is another test while exposing. I say I will time 20 seconds with my watch while they count twenty seconds quietly. When they will think the 20 seconds has passed, they say twenty loudly! Then some of them are saying twenty too soon, some are too late, some are actually exact, but the result is not important, it’s important that they have a challenge how long does 20 seconds take. And keep the focus 🙂

After we develop the prints we are having a laugh how we look like. One photograph taken is a serious posture and the second one is a funny one.

At the end they go to their lumen prints that were exposing for an hour and a half and they see a beautiful photogram of a leaf. The photogram is still light sensitive, there is not enough time to fix and dry all of them, so they take the photogram home in their school-book, hidden away from daylight. At home they can show it to parents, but the photogram will eventually become totally dark. It is a magic paper nevertheless!

We finish the workshop with really hard questions for them. Like why is the paper sensitive to white light, but not to red light? I ask them if they can describe the spectrum of a rainbow, but in a correct order. On the end I say that red is at one side of the spectrum, blue and violet is on the other. I say one has more energy then the other, which one has greater energy red or blue colour? After few more suggestive questions we all come to conclusion that red light has less energy then white light, that is why the photo-sensitive paper, or our “magic paper” is not sensitive to red light. Then I ask them if they ever heard about infrared light? No, they have not. We can not see, smell, taste or hear infrared light, but we have a sense to feel it. How can we feel infrared light? (it’s heat of course) I finish with explaining that light is amazing energy and what we see is very very tiny part of the rainbow. I’m ending that there are infrared cameras that can see a person trough a wall! Just like Superman! I told you we will be talking about the real magic!

And this is how my one a half hour workshop for kids ends. That was on Wednesday.


In October and November I had 12 hour (six times 2 hours) long workshop for kids from 11 to 15 years. Our goal was to make 12 images for calendar that will be published in local newspaper Vrelec. I think this post is too long already, so let me just summarise how our workflow differed. First of all there was no analog photography, just digital photography with their cameras. I had one digital SLR with me, so the kid that had to photograph with a phone, suddenly had the best camera in the group. The first lesson was on observing. We walked down to the river  and observe a particular stone in the river from one side, the other side and observing how is the scene changing. Where is the sky, how does the background changes, how does perspective changes, etc. From one point of view sones were backed by branches, whereas from the other point of view we did see a perspective of a river stream in first plane, stones in the middle and sky in the back. Trees were on opposite banks, making nice framing.

About this workshop let me tell you that we learned a lot about postprocessing and Lightroom and Photoshop. Because we had only one computer, the others were bored, so I gave them a task to photograph a drop of milk. I will not explain you how have we done it, we did it very simple, that one person triggered the camera, the other person dropped the drop and with the other hand triggered a handheld speed light flash. But HERE are tons of videos on the subject.

Written by Borut Peterlin

13 February, 2016 at 13:03

Topshit Photo-Safari, January 2016

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Here is a video from last weeks photo-safari in deep forest of Kočevski rog, Slovenia. If you want to join check my schedule at my WORKSHOP site. Unfortunately all the informations aren’t available just yet, but they will be in few days. The reason why I haven’t found time to finish the site is that I have a guests from Singapore and London, so we are exploring new locations for new workshops. Please check the dates on THIS link  and see if some term is matching your schedule. As said in few days I will publish more information. Exciting information!

But I can tell you that in July we are preparing unprecedented program from the region of Kočevski rog. Visitors will enjoy the exhibitions, talks, tours down in caves or up with paragliders, hiking or bicycling tours, learn about honey, herbs, observe bears in wild and of course take photography workshops. I’m a part of initiative to gather activities that are here forever and unite them under one month lasting event! More to follow!

Written by Borut Peterlin

31 January, 2016 at 02:04

A Tribute to Ansel Adams workshop. Topshit workshop!

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Last weekend I had a workshop, A Tribute to Ansel Adams workshop. We were doing mostly analogue photography with large and middle format cameras. Next workshop is in two weeks, that’s 30., 31. of October and 1st of November 2015. I have two more places open. The same location, Baza 20, Kočevski rog, Slovenia. Photographers under 26 years and local photographers have a massive discount. My email is More info on:


Minuli vikend sem, v sodelovanju z Dolenjskim muzejem, priredil fotografsko delavnico in ta isti program ponavljam na delavnici zadnji vikend oktobra 2015. Slovenski fotografi in mlajši od 26 let imajo konkreten popust. Na voljo sta še dve prosti mesti. Več informacij na mojem emailu in strani:

Logotip Topshit Photography je kreiral Tomato Košir
Internet stran pa

Written by Borut Peterlin

14 October, 2015 at 08:33