TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Posts Tagged ‘land rover series 3

How to fix a starter of Land Rover Series 3

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Dear readers, I apologise for off-the-topic theme, but I assure you it’s not off the topic! It represents the phenomena of me being changed ever sinc I’ve started to do hand-made photography. You know, if you want to do wet plate collodion photography and other alternative processes, you will have a problem to buy all the tools you need. OK, there are few places that offer specialised tools, like silver-bath, camera bellows, etc. But you need awful lot of money to just buy all the stuff you need. But even if you do, sooner or later you will start making things, repairing small issues at first and the next moment you will be calculating atomic masses of molecules, while on your brand new circular saw cutting acrylic glass and fixing your car.

That’s what it happened to me. I used to do what I was told by TV, I used to be a very good consumer. But I got sick of it. I did not got any pleasures and as a photographer I’ve spent 95% behind computer. If I would love computer so much I would be hacker or even better an accountant hacking tax breakes.

After five years doing wet plate collodion photography, I’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs, but most importantly my confidence of making things grew. In this video I’m fixing starter of my old-timer from 1972, Land Rover 109. Luckily the part on the starter that make the flywheel spinning it was only stuck due to dirt and minor rust. It haven’t seen the light for 44 years!

So for now, this is it. I have a workshop coming. The big one, seven day long workshop. Participants are from Israel, Sweden and Germany and of course Slovenia. After the workshop I have some excellent news. Stay tuned.

Written by Borut Peterlin

23 April, 2016 at 08:06

Topshitest dark-box in the world!

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Oh, I am so happy with this dark-box I’ve done in the last few days. In October 2014 I’ve bought a Land Rover Series 3 from year 1972 and it took me more then half a year that I started to trust the car and foremost my ability to fix it, or more often then not, recognising I need a help from a friend to do the maintenance of the truck.

I so much love photographing outdoor, especially documentary photography and you know how annoying is to do it in wet plate collodion process. Sure I’ve done it many times, you can get to a location, set up a tent and you work whole day at the location, clean the stuff and go home with bunch of plates. In the last four years that I do wet plate collodion photography, only twice it happened that I’ve set up a tent, took few plates, cleaned the place up, move to another location, set up the tent, do another bunch of plates, clean it and go home. It is so exhausting this moving. And moving a dark-box or a tent is not a problem, it’s to pour back all the chemistry, prepare it for transport… ARGHHH!!!

I had in mind for a long time a wet plate collodion mobile, a car that it will have a dark box and most importantly all other chemistry prepared in such a way that I would stop the car, set a camera, pour the plate, develop a plate and move to another location. I know few people have camper vans or even trailers, which is fantastic, but not suitable for my environment, not suitable for motifs I want to photograph.

Land Rover, Series 3, 109 LWB, Station Wagon, an old-timer from 1972 is perfect for my needs. It’s cheap to buy, it’s cheap to maintain (parts are cheap, but you have to do the mechanical work by yourself or go bankrupt),  it’s almost free to insure and foremost it looks good on you! Sure it’s not cheap to drive, it burns 13 litres of petrol per 100km (USA: 18 mpg), but it’s not a car for daily use, it’s a tool! I drive it about once a week down to the river or up into forests, near my house, to bring all the equipment,  I rarely make a trip longer then 100 km. You don’t want to drive long time with this car!

Screenshot 2016-01-02 23.16.42

A dark-box as a crate on a roof rack

Anyhow now I’m happy with my dark box. I need to make another shelf beside the dark-box on which I will have a bath with fixer or humectant and a box to store clean and exposed plates. On top of everything I can make a bed in my car! I can easily make a bed size 135cm x 180cm. OK, if I will have a dark box inside, it will be 50 cm narrower, but still plenty of space. When I was in Vienna PhotoBook Festival, I was camping inside the truck and had also a cooker for making soups, tea and other tasty meals. The dark box can be used also on the roof rack as a crate for storage.

 

20160102-susica012.jpg

River Susica, a wet plate collodion negative on glass, format 10x15cm, taken with Kodak Folding Brownie 3A, from about 1905. Exposure: F/64, 5 minutes, old collodion, silver bath 5,7pH

Today I’ve made a quick test before lunch to see if window is properly filtering daylight and I’ve made this wet plate collodion negative. It’s done with Kodak Folding Brownie 3A, from year 1905, it was one of the first compact cameras in the world! Amazing camera, I love it so much. The most important is that I’ve made the plate in about half an hour with all the setting up and going back home to catch the lunch.  This Land Rover and the dark box is the most important tool I have! It will make a wet plate collodion process natural and easy. So happy!

Last but not least, my new year’s resolution is to make more videos and blog posts. I am amazed how many people are following me trough social network! The Ebay auctions are going good, the last one reached about 230 EUR and then I’ve sold another copy of the print to an Italian bidder that lost a bidding against a bidder from USA. Of course the second albumen print from the last auction was sold for slightly higher price then the wining bid was. If I add up the support from my patreons and the commissions that I receive in Slovenia and workshops I have, I must say it’s going great. I want to thank you, by revealing my craft secrets, that I have none, inspiring others and being inspired by others.

Thank you and remember topshit 2016 happens!

A challenging drive with Land Rover Series III, old-timer from 1972

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Yesterday I wanted to test my dark-box and my intention was to go to a beautiful pine tree that was cut in half by a lightning. It’s difficult to get there and yesterday was too muddy to reach that corner of the forrest. I know, I need a winch or even hi-lift jack would be enough to get me through the mud on the side road.

Now I had to take the dangerous muddy hill, I wanted to avoid, but I must drive it in reverse! That was scary, because it was too muddy for brakes, so I had to go with low range engine braking, only that way car was still steerable. At 5:44 you see the rock that was sticking out, I had to steer around that rock. To be honest, I was sure that I’m going to hit that rock, but I was lucky.

Anyway my dark box is working, but I’m not yet satisfied with it. I’ll make it lighter, that’s for sure. Yesterday me and my wife, we had 10th anniversary of our marriage, but we both forgot about it. Then it was on Facebook a reminder that we had an anniversary. So I’ve test the dark-box and made a portrait of us.

Written by Borut Peterlin

1 May, 2015 at 08:31

Posted in land rover

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Was ist Kunst? (inspired by Robert M. Pirsig)

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Was ist Kunst?* or What is art is the question that was not invented together with with the art itself but it was invented in Ancient Greece and in this blog post I’m settling the score once it for all and give answer what art is. I warn you though, you might not like it 🙂

As followers of my blog know, for my 40th birthday I’ve bought a Land Rover 109 old-timer car that is even older then me, it’s 43 years and for last fifteen years it was standing in a garage. You can imagine that once I’ve started driving it, an avalanche of malfunctions blasted on my shoulders. It’s almost two months since it’s standing on my courtyard and I can’t move it to a mechanic and since it’s freezing winter a mechanic don’t want to come and take a look. It got a nickname The Real Estate! The good thing is that I’ve spent last three years learning collodion photography from scratch, so I have a stamina an patience to sort things out, so I used the expression from Jeremy Clarkson: How hard can it be? and decided to fix the car on my own.

For inspiration I’ve read for the third time the book Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig and I confess, only this time I can say I’ve understood the message of the book. No wonder this book is in Guinness book of world records as the bestseller that was rejected by 121 publishers before 122nd actually published it and soon became a bestseller, with over five million copies sold.

OK, you may ask what does that has to do with the bombastic introduction in my post? Everything. This book made me realise what art is and changed my life profoundly. The line of thoughts that will follow is very influenced by the book and before you will condemn me, I publicly admit that I will misquote and misinterpret the book, so I strongly recommend that you read it by your own pace. (It’s even in Slovenian for my Slovenian following presidents!)

So, what Art is???

On the Internet there are many articles on what art is, but let me highlight a very simplistic, populistic easy reading article 27 Responses to the Question “What is Art?”.

But that very simplistic article will give you just as much valid answer as any art historian would. Let me say it more correctly. Any art historian will give you just as false answer as any article. (yes, including this one) 🙂

The original sin of an attempt to define what art is, is that people are aiming in the wrong direction! We are looking at things in gallery and question if this should be there, if this is art. We expect that an object would have some sort of ingredient that would define it as art, some sort of objectiveness. In ancient times that ingredient was gold, whatever object contained gold and other expensive materials, it was glorified as art. Then it was the craft! Obviously some painters can draw with breathtaking accuracy and expressing themselves with huge skill. Then came avant-garde and scandalous Duchamp’s signed urinal entitled Fountain is still a case of questioning if that is art. And so on, and so on…

Any attempt to define what art is, is like standing in a river, facing downstream, observing what river flow is bringing and evaluating. You could devote your life doing that, but you could not foretell the future. Every mathematical equation works both way. 1+1=2 and so it is 2=1+1. Art is not mathematic and there isn’t a person in the world who could not tell you what you need to do to create art.

To be honest there are few super-stars curators that do speculate and take a role of weather forecasters and decide what contemporary art is. But those people are not to be mistaken for art-historians, although they might have an education in art-history, they are creators, they curate exhibitions, they decide who will win what award, they are more contemporary artists then art historians. But even so they can not come up with an answer what art is.

In today’s times we divide between art and craft, but that wasn’t so in the ancient times. Aristotle’s cosmological work On The Heavens is the most influential treatise of its kind in the history of humanity and as I’ve learned he started the concept of subjective and objective, the foundation of western civilisation.

In the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig talks about Quality, Ancient Greeks named that principle Arete and I’ve recognised the roots of the Art. Arete = Art

Wikipedia:
Arete (/ˈærətiː/; Greek: ἀρετή), in its basic sense, means “excellence of any kind”.[1] The term may also mean “moral virtue”.[1] In its earliest appearance in Greek, this notion of excellence was ultimately bound up with the notion of the fulfillment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one’s full potential.

I think ancient Greeks got it right, we missed it completely. Art is a process of creation and although it does leave traces behind, those traces aren’t ART itself, they are footprints left behind by artists. Those foot prints can be objective as a painting in a gallery or subjective as a dance in a theatre. Those foot prints are worthless if they aren’t made by art in action, if they aren’t done as Arete! And if we see the footsteps, we might imagine the line of thought the line of creation the line of craft that the artist was taking while creating the art piece. Our creativity fuels with inspiration.

Let me be more precise, the Art is not the Mona Lisa in Louvre, or Duchamp’s Fountain or a leap of dance of a dancer. The Art is an event that happened and after the event a trace is left behind. Let me say it with other words. Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo Da Vinci is just as much art as are the ruins of Pompeii the city of Pompeii! The road sign Rome is not the city of Rome, nor is a souvenir or any building or a person living in the city!

That revelation opened my eyes and from now on I see the world differently. Last two days I was fixing my Land Rover. I approached the work with the arete attitude as I’m making the most important exhibition in my life. I suspected that the cause of my problems is the fuel pump. Two weeks ago I didn’t know what a mechanical a fuel pump is, but I’ve focused on the problem, dismantled it, changed all the valves, diaphragm, seals and put it back. Now works perfectly and it will continue so for the next ten years. Unfortunately, I realised that the cause of my car’s malfunction is not the fuel pump, but it’s distributor. I ordered new parts. Nevertheless the fuel pump, poor girl, needed the restoration.

Let me finish with paraphrasing Pirsig with the case of my Land Rover.
Objects are just atoms and molecules. They do not have a moral or a feeling for what is right and what is wrong. They are what they are because somebody rearrange materials in the way they are. The malfunction does not exist in a car, it exist solely in the viewer’s mind. The car is a direct reflection of it’s viewer’s interpretation.

The car that is standing still for two months in my courtyard represent disharmony in me and I’ve decided to regain the peace by fixing the car. I am using wrenches, bolts, spanners but my most important tool is ARETE, the will to do whatever is needed to do, so the car will fit my interpretation of how it should be. I use arete to regain the internal peace and that will happen only when my concept of a car will be aligned with my senses.

This process is the feeling that every artist know. It’s a feeling when you are alive, when your hands are golden, hands are moving and miracle is emerging right in front of your eyes! An artist is not separated from the the object until the object is aligned with artist’s interpretation how it should be and it brings peace to the artist. When the artist finishes working on it, from this moment on, art (arete) seize to be and the artist and the art object become two separate entities.

Do you see, people are looking at an object and questioning if this is art, but they are aiming it at the wrong direction. Art is an event, not an object!!!

Written by Borut Peterlin

18 February, 2015 at 13:35