TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Posts Tagged ‘Arts and Entertainment

From barbed wired EU border, with love…

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Some time ago I’ve made a video about barbed wired EU border (link) and here is another episode from the project. I do not know exactly how will it developed, but I feel the need to document the time and place where I live. I enjoy these expeditions so much. Being away from everyone, from everything doing photography, but not being sure if anybody including myself needs those images. As a professional photographer I’ve developed  disfunctionality because photography as a medium is the main source of income and although this is a good thing in the manner I am entitled to devote most of my time to the medium it also creates huge aberration in the process of evaluating the work that I do.  This is the aberration I’m mentioning, but I have blind faith that this will pay for my retirement, because social security surely will not.

My next step is to make prints out of the negatives. It will be very different then those digitally converted reproductions, but about that in the next video.

Wet Plate Collodion at -9C, plus carbon print process!

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So I’ve received a request if I’m selling also ambrotypes. I don’t because ambrotypes are unique, there is only one and once it’s sold I will never see it again. But I’ve replied that I do sell pre-ordered ambrotype. So when I will go outside next time, I can make an additional ambrotype for a client. If the client likes it, he or she buys it, if not, no problem at all, no questions asked. And pre-ordered ambrotype is also sold for much less I would usually charge.

So here is the result. The client asked if he can buy it in wooden box and so I’ve done some research, I’ve made a boxe from pine-wood and even blast-sanded it. It’s massive wood (not glued wood boards) and pine wood is known for it’s tensions, so it bended. For  the next box I’ve chosen cherry wood and this was much better. The final touch is the trophy plate with engraved information about the plate and my signature. How do you like it?

In this video I’m making carbon prints. I love carbon  prints. I think it’s the best that photography as a medium can offer. Of course this is a subjective opinion, but please object only if you have seen a good carbon print on glass – in person. It’s translucent silkiness of carbon prints can not be compared with any dot-on-paper principle printing process. It’s unique.

To fund my work I have to sell these babies. The carbon print on paper is listed HERE and the carbon print of glass is listed HERE.
I have a stupid anecdote to share. We had an attempt of burglary in our house. The attempt failed, since I had my German Shepherd – Mike in the house and that convinced the thief to retreat. After that I thought, shit I’m keeping all my savings in a drawer! I must hide it somewhere. And I did. And the very next day I didn’t remembered where I’ve hide it, now I’m totally without any cash whatsoever. Luckily I have some money on my paypal, so I can fill up the gap and pay the bills, but

imagine how stupid do I feel! Plus I searched the whole house again and again, but without success. Anyway I’m telling you this because I do feel stupid and I want to “enjoy” the suffering so much that I will never repeat it again!

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Listed on ebay for 7 days!

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Listed on ebay for 5 days!

 

 


ON THE WET PLATE COLLODION AT -9C
OK, I’ve done three videos on the subject how to do wet plate collodion at cold temperatures and none of them covers the all aspects. It’s impossible to cover all the aspects because everything needs to be reevaluated. Ditch the timer, you don’t need it. For instance in collodion manuals it is usually written that sensibilization time is 3 minutes for ambrotype. The truth is that the sensibilization time varies on the working conditions, the acidity of the silver bath, the strength of silver bath, the freshness of the silver bath, the level of iodine in silver bath and so on. What I learned from Mark Osterman is to evaluate the sensibilization visually. Do this tests and you will appreciate his wisdom.

Sensitizing

  1. pour the plate and dip it in silver nitrate bath as you usually do.
  2. after 40 seconds, in safelight conditions, take the silver-plate out and look at it, then immediately dip it back in siverbath.
  3. repeat after 90 seconds, 120 seconds, 180 seconds
  4. observe how the surface of the plate is changing. You will notice the following pattern. At the beginning silver will be on the plate in drops, very oily kind of pattern. Then longer it will stay in the silver-bath, collodion will accept more of the silver-nitrate, more smoother the silver will flow on the surface of the plate.
  5. when there is no more silver drops on the collodion  plate, when silver nitrate flows smoothly, the plate is ready to be taken out.
  6. In some cases, when I had 9% solution, that was freshly boiled and working in temperature of 25C and I was agitating a bit, the sensibilization times were less then a minute! In times when it’s cold, times might be 6 minutes. Of course judging visually!

Pouring collodion
So this is the most important advice I want to give you. Of course take special attention to poured on plate, if collodion has set. Touch the pouring corner and if finger-print is overflown by collodion again, then wait few more seconds and repeat the test and when you can see that the collodion does not flow anymore, then dip it in silver nitrate. You might make a collodion that has solvents in ratio 65% of ether, 35% of alcohol. It will dry faster, but I work with my usual 50:50 ratio. During summer I do change the ratio to 30 ether : 70 alcohol. Plus more ether makes better ambrotypes, more alcohol makes better negatives. (More in the Collodion Manual)

Developing
I can not tell you the time of development, nobody can, you have to judge it visually. Of course if you’re an avid collodion photographer you do this routinely. If you are not, let me say few words. When you pour developer, observe the plate, count seconds loudly. So when the highlight will start to appear, multiply the time with three. So if the highlights are there already at 4 seconds it will be around 12 seconds. If the highlight will start to appear at 10 seconds, the developing time might be more like 30 seconds. OK, when I say highlight, it can be highlight of a face or a sky. Of course sky will appear much faster then a highlight patch on a nose, so take my advice on seconds approximately.

Developer
At freezing point I usually have 10 gr of ferrosulfate in 100 ml of developer. If it’s hot I reduce it down to 3,5 gr.

Heating plates and chemistry
I don’t recommend it. If you do not have a camper with permanent heating, then I don’t recommended. Because the heating will cool down, so you will not have a steady temperature and your results might be all over the place. My advice is that you do not heat up anything, so you will have steady temperature, which might be -5C, but at least when you will figure it out, you will have steady working conditions! The worst is that you get a good result, but then the temperature of your chemistry has dropped and you will have different results and there are so many variables, that it’s very likely you will get many problems. The only heating I recommend is long underwear and double socks.

Freezing water
In the video I forgot to put table salt in my water. One teaspoon of table salt will prevent water from freezing even at -6C. I’m adding salt even during hot temperatures, because salt will react with silver-nitrate and stop developing process immediately, thus clear blacks.

That’s about it! Enjoy making ambrotypes or better ambroice, a term coined by Scott Anton.

About this
Last but not least, I thank you for supporting my videos, blog posts and my work on general. You can do that by becoming my Patreon, bidding on my ebay auctions, buying work from me directly, taking my workshops or even sending me a tip on paypal directly. My paypal address is borutpeterlin and every cup of tea is welcome. As I confessed I developed a habit – being an artist…

Again I’m making an Ebay auction and again I’m listing prints that are by my opinion perfect! I hope you like the making-of-video and if you think it’s worthy don’t forget to subscribe, like and share.

And as always: TOPSHIT HAPPENS!!!

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.

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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Topshit photography journal 16th of June 2015

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Tomorrow is a big day. I’m almost finished with my preparations for Vienna Photo Book Festival . I’ve cashed in all my chips and now it’s time to go. I’m going to Vienna with a Land Rover, my old-timer. Today I’ve bought Hi-Lift Jack and I’ve sorted the bed in my Land Rover. As a huge fan of Top Gear, I’m planning to do Topshit Gear Special and I’m planning to record my trip as I do, with emphasis on photography and art. The book Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is my inspiration.

I’m not doing this just for the fun of it, but I’m celebrating a new milestone in my photography path. I finally reached the destination after four years of intensive work. Six years or so I’ve seen an exhibition of Sally Mann in London Photographer’s Gallery and I’ve decided there on the spot I want to learn this witchcraft of collodion. It took me more then a year to find Miša Keskenović, who introduced me into the craft and another year to have met Mark Osterman in person. At George Eastman House I’ve seen original albumen prints of Eadweard Muybridge, France Scully Osterman, Mark Osterman and many others. I knew that I want to make a project with it. Albumen print process is in principle very simple process, but if you want to have rich tonality with clear white highlights and deep blacks, it’s very difficult. On top of everything I see my future artwork only in wet plate negative, that is much more difficult to do, then ambrotypes or tintypes.

Practitioners of wet plate collodion process know that the most difficult thing of all is the workflow. It’s one thing to make a good plate (either positive or negative) and it’s completely another thing to be able to do it in whatever situation it is. I bought the Land Rover so I could perfect my workflow and master the process so well that it becomes intuitive and I can focus on the photography itself not thinking on the process.

In the road I’m taking I’m celebrating that. I’m celebrating the past four years of learning and tackling the process and now I feel the process is very natural to me, I’m relaxed and I have plenty of energy to focus on the aesthetic and art. In this road I’m celebrating the fact that I’m making prints that are the best prints I’ve done. I love them so much, I can’t stop looking at them. I know I’ve reached the milestone of learning the craft. Now I can fully focus on my art, on the concepts, on ideas I want to share through the medium of photography.

Here are some random images I’ve done lately. Captioned.

Retouching of wet plate collodion negative

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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.

This week I hadn’t had any commercial work so finally I found time to try my new tools. At the workshop we all received a retouching kit with several brushes, graphic pencil, sand paper, several varnishes, powders, razor blade, magnifying loupe, collodion glass negatives to be retouched and a folder with read on the subject. So neat! GEH’s workshops are so well organised!

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 borutpeterlin@gmail.com
Thank you.

Written by Borut Peterlin

14 May, 2015 at 10:01

At 5am in Venice

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Few weeks ago I had a job in Venice and I couldn’t resist not to do some 5am photography. 5am is one of my favourite projects. The basic concept is to be a part of the day when night had finish already and the day haven’t started yet.

Sometime around 5am there exists a subtle moment when day chases its tail. Laborers are off to work; party-goers are finding their way home.

In the wee hours, ambiguity rages between night and day, light and dark, predator and prey, mind and instinct, life and death. This surreal relationship between contrasts seems to linger in what is just the blink of an eye.

In one sentence, it’s a love affair with light. I love it, being awake before everybody and having an eternity just for myself. I walk and observe without any rush, without any obligations and without any expectations whatsoever. It’s my walking meditation channeled trough photography.

As I’ve mentioned in the video I’ve started the project in Fabrica in year 2000, because after Oliviero Toscani left, I could not get a permission to go out and do photography. My kind of photography! You know, the kind of photography that does not sound sane in an application form and on top of that it does not have a deadline or a goal to achieve? I remember very clearly when a senior staff was explaining me that I should sketch how will my photographs look like, before I take a camera in my hands. I explaining him that if I would do so, I would make an image that is made with my mind and my mind is just recycling concepts and in this way I can not come up with nothing original. You can imagine the face of the temporary head of the department…

Anyhow, in the video above is presented a book dummy that I’ve created in 2008. After that I was doing my 5am routine wherever I traveled and bellow there are few recent images from Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, USA, Czech Republic and of course Venice, Italy.

The project will be finished in a book, I’m quite certain about it. You might remember that in my post from Les Recontres Arles festival I’ve mentioned that Dewi Lewis remembered me for some crazy project of mine? In one sentence I’ve met Mr. Lewis more then ten years ago at Frankfurt Book Fair and after all those years he still remembered me and one of my crazy projects. He remembered my 5am project! How amazing is that?!?

To repeat fast, Dewi Lewis is one of the most important photography book publishers in the world and he was a publisher of Martin Parr (before Faidon), William Klein, Erwin Olaf, to name just few and he remembered my 5am project ten years later when we’ve met in Arles. Of course I will make new 5am book dummy and send it to him.

If you will be in Vienna Photo Book Festival I will be there also with my photo books. That said, the book isn’t published yet, so I can’t sell you one, but someday I will.

Bellow are images that I’ve made in Venice. This is my selection from couple of mornings and only few images will actually end in a book. At the bottom there is a slideshow I’ve made years ago with music of Daniel Wehr. Daniel was a fellow student in Fabrica.it in year 2000 and he made this music for my 5am project. He even walked with me one 5am morning, recording sound, but he didn’t like the sound of camera shutter, so next day I got up even sooner at 4am:-)

Written by Borut Peterlin

6 April, 2015 at 11:58

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