Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Posts Tagged ‘Photographers

Elvis Halilović, his wooden Camera Obscuras and my wet plate portrait of him

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Elvis Halilović, portrayed with my ShenHao 4x5" camera on wet plate collodion process

Elvis Halilović, portrayed with my ShenHao 4×5″ camera on wet plate collodion process

Elvis Halilović, portrayed with his camera obscura.

Elvis Halilović, portrayed with his camera obscura.

Few days ago I’ve made a portrait of Elvis Halilović.
In his words: “I’m a passionate lensless photographer. For the last seven years, I’ve been photographing using pinhole cameras that I’ve made myself. Through the years, I’ve constructed and used extensively about 40 of them; the largest produced images measuring up to 3 x 4 metres while the smallest could fit inside a person’s mouth. I’m also an industrial designer and a carpenter….”

He designed super slick camera obscuras and made them from wood. They look super cool. He started ONDU Pinhole Cameras project on Kickstarter, aiming for $10.000 USD of backing and three weeks before the end of kickstarter project he has already pledged for $63.000 USD. Check his project and back him. For now, that’s the only way how to get the camera, but he has many worldwide offers for his product.

I’ve done his portrait with his camera, but since I didn’t had a clue what angle of view is, I totally missed the framing. In tomorrows Mladina weekly it’ll be published his collodion portait. At European Collodion Weekend I bought one old brass Petzval lens and check the results. I suggested Elvis that with this cameras also wet plate collodion process could be done, since it uses ordinary 4×5″ film holder. He will lend me one for a ride. Can’t wait!

Grasping my stride with this post

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Sorry, I haven’t been posting for a very long time. I think I will in the future post more frequent and shorter posts. I hate this kind of report what was going on last couple of weeks. Then again I would hate if I wouldn’t share this experience on the blog.

The strangest thing happened with my wet plate collodion chemicals. On Wednesday I’ve made the portrait of Nana Milčinski without a problem and the very next day I couldn’t make a decent picture. It took me more then a week to figure out what went wrong and I’ve burned lots of nerves. I’m not going to go into chemical details, but I’m happy I’ve solved the problem. Luckily if a wet plate gets all dirty and full of stains, you can call it an art and you get away with it. You can see the stains and fog that is appearing on some pictures. I’m happy that I’ve resolved the problem/s and on the end of the day I’ve learned a lot. Really a lot. I’m finally at the stage that when a problem occurs I can systematically find it and resolve it.

The worst thing was that this problems were occurring when I had to do a demonstration of a wet plate collodion technique on two photo-fairs in Maribor and in Zagreb. Very stressful! Oh… I’ve bought a tent Eskimo QuickFish 3 and now I have a mobile darkroom. It’s very good, although joints are not strong enough so I’ve asked my friend to reinforce them. BUt it’s a joy to work in it. I set it up in 40 seconds!
548211_10151052982920216_418245412_n 425800_10151098848651523_1255112315_n Photo: Goran Katić

90th birthday of Božena Pelikan, the youngest daughter of famous photographer Josip Pelikan

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Today, 16th of September 2012 is the 90th birthday of Božena Pelikan, the youngest daughter of famous photographer Josip Pelikan. As a homage to famous Pelikan family and a humble gratitude to the photographical heritage of Pelikan family, I’ve made portraits of Mrs. Pelikan. I used Vageeswari 10×12″ camera with sheet film of 8×10″ and a lens Voigtlander Heliar 300mm, f/4,5. For Wet Plate Collodion portraits I used a Plaubel 5×7″ camera and I’ve made some quick takes also with Mamiya C330, format 6×6.

With Museum of Recent History Celje, we’re discussing projects that we might do together and I’m all excited since potentials are enormous! The studio is without a doubt one of the best preserved luxurious glass photographic ateliers in Europe with original equipment used by the famous Slovene photographer Josip Pelikan (1885–1977). More about it on the links bellow.

Museum of Recent History Celje / Josip Pelikan Photographic Studio
Panoramic view of Josip Pelikan Photographic Studio, Slovenia Landmarks by Boštjan Burger
Josip Pelikan’s photographies in the digital archive, – Digital Library of Slovenia

Borut Peterlin during photo-session with Mrs. Božena Pelikan. Assistent Tomaz Strmcnik. Photo Helena Vogelsang. Camera Plaubel 5×7″, Wet Plate Collodion, Flashes Balcar 1500Ws & ’50Ws.

Silence (great band) – Wet Plate Collodion portrait

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20120810 scilence band by

In last issue of Mladina weekly it was published my portrait of Silence band. I had this idea for a while, but some people were not feeling comfortable with it, but on the contrary with the duo Silence we had a good laugh and the result overpassed my expectation. My collodion needed a two pops of 2250Ws to illuminate it correctly, that is why Primož on the right side is a bit blurred. Later I find out that it could be done in one pop if I would raise pH of AgNO3 from 2,2 to 4pH as I did later on and described in THIS post.

Techs: ShenHao 4×5″, lens Linhof 135mm f/3,5; Flashes of 2250Ws – two bursts, AgNO3 pH 2,2.

Behind the scene. Photo: Vanja Pirc

New level of my Wet Plate Collodion portraits

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Yesterday my family had a family lunch and a celebration of my father’s birthday, so I used this opportunity to make a new set of family portraits. Recently I reset and readjust my chemicals, so I was anxious to see how my pictures will turned out and here they are!

Technically I used Palubel 5×7″camera with Voigtlander Heliar 300mm f/4,5 lens at aperture 6,7 and illuminated by one flash burst of two flashes of joined power 2250Ws. Flashes were about 90cm away from the subject.

This plates along with others will be exhibited in Kulturni dom, Gorica in Italy. The opening will happen on 29th of September 2012. You’re invited.





Homage to Paul Graham

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Paul Graham at the workshop in Fabrica in year 2000

Last week I was on a vacation and I’ve read a book review of newest project by Paul Graham at Aphotoeditor by Robert Haggart. I’ve first encountered Paul Graham’s work at an exhibition at Month of Photography in Bratislava, year 1994. It was an exhibition of New British Documentary Photography. When I was in Fabrica, Benetton’s communication research centre, year 2000, he had a two days workshop there. Until then I didn’t fancy his aesthetic, but I understood his topics and I loved his early works especially Beyond Caring and Troubled Land. His work you don’t understand on a first glance, it took me a while of reading and contemplation to get familiar with the idea that war photography can be done with medium format camera from far and it’s OK, that your pictures aren’t good enough because you’re not close enough.

While we had a workshop together he asked from us to go out and make pictures, that we wouldn’t otherwise, we were asked to make mistakes, rigorous technical and compositional mistakes. We went out and each of us shot a roll of film and I took it as a joke, throwing camera in the air and taking pictures with a timer on and of course nobody took an effort to look trough a viewfinder. And accordingly that’s how our pictures look like, a one big mess! Paul came along and start shuffling pictures and out of this mess of unsharp, blurry, over&under exposed pictures made a series that actually looked really cool! Then he was talking about possible connotations that this kind of aesthetic could be applied to. I was astonished! What a good workshop!

So when I read the book review that I’ve mentioned before I clicked through the book and as always it’s not on a first ball as we say it, but as all Graham’s projects it takes some time to get familiar with his new “invention” in photography. To be honest my belief was that diptychs, triptychs and other typtichs are for photographers who can not make a good picture, then they do some distracting maneuvers with juxtaposing several images together. In 99% it’s like that, if you ask me, or even more if the theme of the series is dealing with identity of a photographer (grow up!).

But, I’m also great fan of Duane Michals and his way of transcending an image with a sequence and Graham’s diptychs are sharing a some sort of rhythm that I like. Furthermore this is actually a street photography, a contemporary modern version street photography, that I adore. Robert Haagart wrote:

“But, inch by inch, I realized that the book’s locale is strictly allegorical. It could have been London, or Barcelona, or San Francisco, or almost any city on Earth. The title of the book is not “NYC,” it’s “The Present.” Mr. Graham is asking us to take him at his word, and look beyond the obvious.”

At the moment I was reading this I was at a vacation at the sea site in Nerezine, Croatia, so I wondered if it could have been NY, London, Barcelona, why not Nerezine as well? I took my camera and the very next day I’ve made a jackpot of an image that I’m publishing bellow. I’m continuing with the mining the concept…






Wet Plate Collodion – silver-nitrate bath pH problem resolved!

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Recently I’ve noticed that I have a problem with silver-nitrate bath in my Wet Plate Collodion photography. I’ve done a successful portrait of Neža Peterca for Mladina weekly and then I’ve made another one of Damjan that was assisting me and this thing happened! I know this edge of fog is because of uneven dipping to the silver-nitrate solution, but if this happens only “boiling” bubbles occurs and not this fog! Than I noticed that the fog is also on the Neža’s portrait! And also on other portraits! Oops!

Those small lines are of course caused by AgNO3, but I didn’t thought it’s caused or at least related by a low pH issue!?!

I_knew it’s a pH issue in my silverbath, but I had two or even three litmus papers and each of them was showing different results. I had enough of this and I’ve bought an electronic Ph checker and also a buffer pH4. I calibrated my checker so it was exact on two decimal numbers! No pH will mess around with me, I tell you! The measurement was shocking. My silver-nitrate bath was 2,2pH and it should be pH4!

Who’s cooking today? Daddy is cooking today! What will be for lunch? Concentrated silvernitrate soup, evaporated to 20%. Hm… how come today aren’t any mosquitos flying around? I don’t know…

I’ve read Timmerman’s post on maintinace of AgNO3 bath, so I was going to cook! I evaporated 80% of solution and then I add fresh water, hoping that will fix the pH issue. It was better, but far from the wanted result. My AgNO3 solution was pH 2,8, but it was really clear (after I filter it) and real beauty on which I was resting my eyes! I know it sound weird, but wetplaters we find beauty everywhere.

The issue of pH was still there, although my plates were good for my standards and I never had them so clean 🙂 Check my first picture below. I’ve bought 10 ml of concentrated ammonium in a local drug store and I add only on small drop to 350ml of AgNO3 solution and the effect was immediate, from 2,8 pH to 3,8pH. Then I redid the test and results are published and commented bellow.

16 flash bursts
pH of AgNo3 solution 2,8

16 flash bursts
pH of AgNo3 solution 3,8

8 flash bursts
pH of AgNo3 solution 3,8

4 flash bursts
pH of AgNo3 solution 3,8

Conclusion: The boiling of AgNO3 did dramatically purified this solution. The raise of pH from 2,8pH to 3,8pH made my emulsion more sensitive to light and that’s for about 1,5 step. I’m not sure that those small lines on a plate are also caused by a low pH, but now they are gone! A small step for photography, a giant leap for me 😉 More about my work on

Family summer time in 6×6 format

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Few days before with my family we left for summer vacation to a seaside I’ve bought a “new” camera Mamiya C330, so I was excited to try it out. I never liked the square format, as a student and as a young professional, but I guess it’s because square format was a trade mark of Hasselblad, that I couldn’t afford 🙂

I looked at my bookshelf, thinking who is a master of square format photography. My first pick was Mary Ellen Mark and her book Indian Circus, then I checked The Hasselblad Masters awards. The Hasselblad awards didn’t inspire me (I can do better), but with Mary Ellen Mark I found some good clues how to deal with the square format.

I was thinking… Square is a stable, boring format and to make the image interesting I must brake this stableness with composition. My first rule was to fill the image with the subject all the way to the borders and even across the border. That was the idea for the picture published above and on the left side. OK, I admit, I didn’t discover America, but playing with concepts and aesthetics is inevitably leading us to new “discoveries” as I call personal micro revelations 🙂

Second inspiration was the book On Photography by Susan Sontag. I’ve read it twice, but that was some time ago, so why not follow the Atheism 2.0 commandment to repeat the lessons over and over again. It’s the basis of every religion so it must make sense. While reading Sontag’s words on how photography is surreal, the most appropriate medium for modernistic art, I understood everything. World make sense if viewed through a lens of a camera.

Last but not least, this adventure back to black and white analog photography is bringing good old memories from Prague’s Famu Academy where I earned my BA in photography. I know I’m repeating some lessons from history of photography, but I don’t do it because of the love towards the history, but I’m doing it for the love of photography and to the love to my family. More of my Family Album project you can see on my site is not the end result it’s just warming up! I’m inspired as Apollo 11 rocket!

PS: Under comment leave a link to a site of a photographer who work in an inventive way with a square medium format camera. I want to grasp as much info as I can.

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A creative portrait of Matic Zorman, a photojournalist

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Matic Zorman is a young photojournalist whose work was noted many times. In this issue of Mladina weekly, we are publishing his profile with my portrait of him. We had a such a laugh while working on this image. It’s done in Wet Plate Collodion technique, format 4×5″. We did it during Fotopub festival and Miša Keskenović and Matej Povš were helping me a lot. THX!

I’ll do my own B/W photo material

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Today I was in Samobor, Croatia in Fotokemika company where they were from year 1947 producing foto material of all sorts. Last week they stopped the production and workers are unemployed now. That makes me very sad since they were producing excellent films and photo-papers under brand EFKE, but also under brands ADOX (Belgium), Rollei and who knows what more. Few months ago I decided to learn how to make my own photographical gelatin emulsion and so I went there and bought pure photographical gelatin. I laso bought infra red film, just to try it out and roentgen ortho-cromatic film for camera obscura experiments. By pure coincidence I’ve met there a friend Damir, that also drop by to buy some rentgen film and he explained me that you can use it for normal photography with some specific difficulties. For instance, I didn’t know that roentgen films have emulsion on both sides and they are very contrasty, which is perfect for salt print contact prints!

PS: On the end of the day I must say that this stuff is not that cheap as you would expected. Like for all that I payed 280 EUR. But that is a half a year stock if I’ll be shooting a lot. On the other hand, analog medium format cameras are from 200-600 EUR and digital medium format cameras are from 3000 – 12.000 EUR. For the difference in prices you can buy quite a lot of films & scans 🙂