Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Posts Tagged ‘Photography

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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Kaolin, the best friend of a wet plater and his wife

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This post will be more Tips&Tricks kind of content, but I’m already uploading new video, so although my audience are not only wet platers, please bear with me.

This tip is not the basics of wet plate collodion photography, it’s a tip that might save a month of your life and potentially a lot of money. It’s a technique that you do not need to use very often, but if you do need it, it’s your only friend, it’s an emergency exit. What do you usually  do when your silver bath is contaminated and it fogs like English morning? You sun it, right? If that doesn’t work, you add baking soda and leave it for a long time to settle down, I prefer not to wait that long and I rather add baking soda so the pH is about 5-6pH and then I boil it, so 2/3 of water evaporates. Then I add water, filter it and sun it again for a day or two. Then I have perfectly pure silver bath with which is a joy to work.

Last week I’ve done all of the above, but after filtering silver bath still looked muddy. Strange, strange, very strange, I thought. What do you do when you see something like that? I know what you’re thinking and you are WRONG, you do not publish it immediately on FB with a caption: What’s that?!? NO, that it’s not how you do it! You go back and investigate what went wrong.

I cleaned the pot to see if the coating of the pot chipped off somewhere and UAU, it was a massive corrosion and the metal part of the pot was in contact with my silver bath. Do you know what metal is a developing agent in a wet plate collodion developer? It’s iron, a sulphate of iron! So that means the silver bath reacted with the pot and it contaminated throughly!

In this case, all the sun in the world will not help to clear the silver bath, so you need to call special forces, you need a bad-ass called Kaolin! It’s a fine powdered clay, that is used for china making. It is known to bind on itself all sorts of stuff, but in our case, it will clear the silver bath.

So I’ve added few spoons of Kaolin and the cleansing started immediately. After a minute it was much much better. I left it sunning for a day, so all the clay sedimented down and clear silver was ready for more wet plate photography. The contamination of the silver-nitrate with iron took a fat toll, but at least I saved the remaining silver. If I wouldn’t had kaolin, I would have to dispose it.

Talking about disposing silver-bath. Mark Osterman told me, that when he started with the wet plate collodion process in 90’s it was a habit that photographers were using silver bath until it got contaminated and then they disposed it and mixed it fresh! He have learned from ancient books about sunning, baking soda, boiling, kaolin and all this witchcraft that we do today. I can imagine that us wet platers hurts the thought that we would need to mix new silver-baths every month or so, but there is one nice method how they’ve disposed the silver bath. They used it for painting of wooden fences and apparently it offers fantastic protection! I also read in Osterman’s Collodion Journal that silver nitrate was popular for dying hair. Imagine how permanently black hair were! My hair is getting kind of gray, I might spare some silver nitrate :-)

Back to the topic. Kaolin can be used also to clean your silver bath during wintertimes, when there isn’t much available sun, I use it to cleanse my silver bath for albumen printing. The only way to get albumen out of your silver bath is, you guessed it correctly, Kaolin! I also used a table spoon of kaolin with some baking soda to help my digestion problems. Seriously, it really helps! This is pure classic medicine, it’s not alternative mambo jambo! But all the methods above are alternative usage of Kaolin. Today it’s mostly used in beauty saloons, for facial masks, since it also cleanses skin. So the bottom line is the same as the title:
Kaolin, the best friend of a wet plater and his wife!

PS: Last but not least, this blog is supported by crowd founding. Thank you for the support. My page is HERE.

Written by Borut Peterlin

19 November, 2015 at 17:58

Feature news story from Montenegro, done by 4×5″ large format view camera

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Two weeks ago I had a solo exhibition opening in very beautiful gallery Atelje Dado in Cetinje, Montenegro. It was a long trip of about 1500km there and back, but I enjoyed it a lot. The exhibition place was great, I enjoyed staying in Montenegro, we used to be in the same country and since I speak fluent Serbian, I felt like visiting a relative far away, not a tourist or a stranger at all. I’ve done also a talk and demonstration of wet plate collodion process and it was good, very good, people liked it and results were good too.

12190071_10153036221765216_7764312863671303157_n-2Before I left on the road I heard there were violent protest happening in the capital of Montenegro, so I’ve decided that I will make a reportage about that. The question was how will I do it? I can not compete with local photojournalists and I wasn’t interested in news photography, I’ve done that a lot, I wanted to do it differently. I had to think what kind of reportage will I make, how will I approach the subject, what will be the subject at all? Many important questions to be answered before picking up a camera.

Talking about the camera, I was reluctant to take my super digital camera Nikon D4 with me, it’s too heavy and too expensive and I wasn’t into news kind photojournalism anyway, so I decided to do the feature reportage with my 4×5″ camera. I’ve decided that I will not wait for the violent protest, those images will be in the news anyhow, I wanted to make a different kind of story, so I’ve made the following approach.

I’ve focused on an ordinary resident of Montenegro, made a short interview and a portrait of them. The portrait was done in the manner of August Sander. Straight, portrait, with environment, so you get a sense who are these people, what is their job, what’s their status and so on. Since I was using an old bellow camera, I got a permission to do the portrait from all of them, I couldn’t steal a portrait with this kind of camera anyhow, but still I’m experienced photojournalist in the business for about 15 years and I know that the attractive camera did brake the ice for me.

When I came home there was the hardest task, to write a story, to write a text! For all of my years as a photojournalist I always was working in a team with a journalist, but now I had to do all by myself. I was kind of confident, because I knew how am I going to do this story before I picked up a camera or ask a question, so I sit down to write the story at 8am and finished it at 4pm. The experience working with excellent journalists for magazines like The Observer, Colors Magazine, Corriere della Sera, Mladina and others, was very good foundation. Even the editor in chief of Mladina weekly, said I wrote a good text. I was really satisfied with the feature reportage that was published in Mladina weekly. You can read the full article from THIS link, but it’s in the proper language, so I apologise to English speakers.

Last but not least, I’ve showed the feature story to my friend at UK’s picture agency Panos Pictures and he found it excellent and published it on their blog as an example of a good feature story. HA!!!

Long forgotten love for photojournalism revived in me. I don’t want to do daily news, but I am interested in daily life, small stories, that are affected by the stories from the news. Plus I realised I can do a reportage with a slow view camera, better then with my ultrafast digital camera! And imagine that, I can also write!!!

Written by Borut Peterlin

8 November, 2015 at 22:21

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

I think Janez Puhar would like those portraits

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I bet majority of my readers has never heard about Janez Puhar and his invention of photography on glass. He lived in first half of 19th Century in Austria-Hungary empire, in the region that is now known as Slovenia. He was fellow Slovenian. He was a priest by his profession and obviously a genius.

Apparently he spoke dozen languages and his letters in six different languages are preserved. He received an acknowledgement for his excellent knowledge of Hebrew. Obviously he spoke also French since it’s written that in 1840 he already made his first daguerreotype. Because he could not afford materials for daguerreotype, he soon started to innovate his own photography process. First records are that in 1841 he already had some successful experiments of photography on glass.

His story is very well presented at the dedicated site Just let me highlight three facts about his career. His problem was that he was not a scientist and his job a priest made him move several times. His invention was introduced to the world too late. In 1851, about ten years after he invented the photography on glass the The Academy of Sciences in Vienna publishes his report on the invention and in the same year his photographs on glass were exhibited at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in London. He was presented as “Pucher Johann, Veldes, Upper Carniola, Inventor”. It was accompanied by an explanation that he was displaying photography on glass created with a new method. He was awarded the bronze medal. Year later in 1852 he received an invitation to send his photographs for World’s Fair in New York in 1853. he send several. In year 1852 Puhar received the title of honorary member, and a diploma from the French “Académie nationale agricole, manufacturiere et commerciale”, recognising him, although somewhat late, as the “Inventeur de la photographie sur verre” (the inventor of photography on glass).

So the world heard about Puhar at the time when Fredrick Scott Archer already invented wet plate collodion process that was widely accepted by photographers throughout the world, because of that nobody repeated the process aside Puhar and the invention was forgotten.

Bellow are some images from the exhibition about Puhar with exhibited originals. Few weeks ago there was a symposium about the work of Puhar. I was there with my collodion gear and I made few portraits on glass.

I think Janez Puhar would like them.

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Written by Borut Peterlin

8 September, 2015 at 23:19

Topshit Photo Safari was a success!

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Dear readers of my blog, I’m back! Not that I’ve left anywhere, but I was working really hard to make my workshop happen. I organised a five days workshop, two days working outdoor and three days working indoor. We covered wet plate collodion negatives, albumen printing, salt printing and collodion chloride printing. After that I had another two days of individual workshop on carbon printing. Very intense indeed!

I’ve decided to set up our headquarters in Sitarjeva hiša, a house from 1886 and was abandoned for last 17 years. It did not had a running water or electricity, but with the generous help of Anže Grabeljšek, Sanja Gorišek, Nastja Frey Gorše and municipality of Dolenjske Toplice, we sorted things out! I had many concerns and I had two back up options, but the house with it’s charisma is destined to host more art events! In fact I’m exhibiting new work there, so let me invite you to the exhibition of my panoramas on 27th of August at 7pm.

Expect more topshit events like this! For now I’m going to organise a workshop with a theme: Tribute to Ansel Adams. I’m planning a workshop on analog photography, with medium and large format cameras, for about 8 people. We will do rafting, camping, off roading and developing contact prints. We will explain the zone system, have a talk in the middle of forrest about Adams’s work and legacy… It will be 4th and 5th of September. The price for it is 250 EUR and includes cameras, films, paper, chemistry and food while camping. (Če razumeš slovensko, si avtomatsko zaslužiš konkreten popust) I know it’s short notice, but I have friends who already booked, so only few spaces are available, so we will not wait for you, but don’t worry, I will have more workshops. More topshit workshops is what we need! I will make an official notice in the following days. My email is

I’m talking also with Nikon, we might make a photo-safari trip on digital photography during wine picking season. And I’m thinking to organise a collodion new year celebration in some cottage deep in the forrest of Slovenia (or is it properly written Slovakia?!?) What do you think, is it topshit enough idea?

Anyway, please check the images bellow and read captions and remember…
Topshit does happens!

Topshit Centre of Photography opens!

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Today was a great day. Months of preparations, planning and hard work calumniated in the introduction of the house of Sitarjeva hiša in a new role. We’ve installed a darkroom, daylight working room, chilling room, a gallery and a dance room!

The house was made in 1887, but it was for last seventeen years abandoned. It does not have running water, electricity or heating. But We will change that. We are changing that! With the generous help of Anže Grabeljšek, Nastja Frey Gorše, Sanja Gorišek and municipality of Dolenjske Toplice, we are reviving the house in the centre of Dolenjske Toplice.

Everything is ready for the beginning of the topshit photography workshop in the centre of the topshit world! Expect more news from the workshop, expect traveling, adventure, weird creatures in castles, driving off road, swimming, rafting, camping, visiting museum collections and foremost making wet plate collodion negatives, salt prints and albumen prints.

Oh… Today we had a visit already! On Sunday I was portraying on the streets of Ljubljana and by pure coincidence I’ve met a journalist from USA, who is researching exactly what I do, traveling, workshops, creativity and adventure. Today she came for a visit and made an interview. I am not kidding you, it’s true! Hey, I’m preaching this all the times, so let me repeat again:


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