Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Posts Tagged ‘The Story Behind a Portrait

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!

Wet Plate Collodion + digital illustration = a creative portrait of Kaja Avberšek

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Kaja Avberšek, an illustrator

Kaja Avberšek, an illustrator

Month ago I’ve made this portrait, but haven’t published it on my blog. Kaja Avberšek is an illustrator, so I suggested her that I’ll make a wet plate and then she’ll draw on it. Unfortunately I was doing small 4×5″ plates, on the field, so she didn’t draw directly on the plate, but did it on her computer. This is the result. It was published in Mladina weekly and I love how it turned out. Sometimes the publication is an icing on a cake and many times it’s just the opposite, but this time it’s definitely presenting my picture in the best way. Is it a bird? Is it Superman? Or is it topshit?

OK, I’m introducing a new rubric on my blog. It’s a quizzzzzz!!! I’ll be publishing my mistakes I have done with a question what is the cause of the mistake and few days later I’ll publish the answer. Of course if you will not guess it first. Let’s start with an easy one. Here are two plates. Problematic plate has some lines in blacks and in the right bottom corner even collodion lifted off. The other plate has perfect blacks, no peeling problems. What was the cause of those lines on the crappy plate?

Kaja Avberšek ilustratorka

A portrait of a writer Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting)

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Two weeks ago I was commissioned by Mladina weekly to do the portrait of a writer Irvine Welsh, a Scottish novelist, playwright and short story writer. He is recognised for his novel Trainspotting. For the whole interview a termin of 30 minutes was reserved, which with other words mean, not time for photographer. I’ve stole 30 seconds for the portrait in the chair, before the interview and the rest was shot during interview. I used medium twin-lens camera Mamiya C330 and EFKE 100 film (I should use ISO 400, I know…). I’ve done also portraits on digital camera, just as a back-up, but those portraits were so boring, I’ll not waste Internet’s space with them. The concept of those portraits was the following. I took a straight normal portrait, I took all classic portraits that are usually done during interviews, then I said OK, let’s make few portraits that will smell like Trainspotting. What do you think?

Digital and analog manipulation by Collodion Bastard

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final result, portrait of a band Napravi mi dete

final result, portrait of a band Napravi mi dete

In Friday’s Mladina weekly there will be published my portrait of a band Napravi mi dete (make me a child). I’ve done their portrait on Mamiya C330, on film format 6×6. Then I develop the film and exposed a wet plate collodion plate, but with chemistry of Miša Keskenović (based on receipts of J. M. Eder) that was meant for contrasty wetplate negatives. We’ve made few tests with different developers and we got results that somewhat might be opalotypes. I’ve scanned the plate and it was alright but I’ve took a step forward and hold it over flame so it broke. Cracks are more controllable then you might think, but still very unpredictable. Plate literally exploded in my hand, since I hold the flame too much in the middle of the plate. You can see the hole where all cracks are coming from. Left bottom corner. I’m attaching how pieces of the plate looked like on my scanner and then I digitally sew them together. Is this a digital manipulation? I decided to sew the pieces together digitally, because I already scratched the surface of my scanner while scanning plates. It’s a though job, being a collodion bastard, but someone have to do it…

Post Scriptum:
Today I’ve bought a table saw. Before devoting completely to photography, I’ve made a secondary school for carpentry and now I’m getting in touch with my inner carpenter. I’m planning to make my own frames, silver and fixer baths, copying frames,…

every Colodion Bastard need a good table saw! Before devoting completely to photography, I've made a secondary school for carpentry and now I'm getting in touch with my inner carpenter :-)

every Colodion Bastard need a good table saw!

Exhibition of my creative portraits in IJS, Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

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Yesterday I had an exhibition opening of my creative portraits in Inštitut Jožef Stefan. With curator Tatjana Pregl Kobe, we decided to exhibit my portraits from 2006/07 on ground floor and on first floor my portraits from 2012/13. For Mladina weekly I’m making every week at least one creative portrait of a creative person and although I love making this work, it’s no easy walk, I tell you! I remember that many times I woke up in the middle of the night, because I didn’t have the concept how to do a portrait later the day. Or I was dreaming about it. Nevertheless it’s such a nice feeling to view back on your work and you know it was worth the pain, sweat and stress. And most importantly it’s still worth to continue. Last year I switched my style of portrait photography from vibrant color playful portraits (LINK) to collodion portraits (LINK). I had a feeling that I had to move on. The fact that everybody liked my wicked humor and saturated colors, was just another reason to reinvent my style before going stale. And the change was not easy or comfortable whereas discrete! From digital camera with studio lights (link to the making of video) to old view camera on a tripod and with darkroom. Also the layout of the rubric changed completely. In year 2006 the portrait was published on about 1/3 of a page and now the rubric is published as a spread with a serious text about the person being portrayed. HERE is the link from national TV.

What am I trying to say. Two things. I’m proud on this body of work. And I feel an urge that I want some more of photography. I’m really obsessed! I feel very clearly that I’m on tipping point of my career. I crossed the point of no return.

What has changed? I will not describe my feelings, just actions and then you’ll get the picture.
1) Last week I quit my job as a photojournalist. I will still do gladly portraits for my Mladina weekly magazine, but I can not afford to waste my life on news photographs that have expiry date faster then diaria! I really lost all my interest in politics. Totally. Gone…
2) Revival of skylight Studio Pelikan is one the things I feel so connected with. I feel that although we’re running on no-budget and making small tiny steps, the direction is correct and we just need to continue
3) I’m receiving a huge support in my quest in Alternative photography from all sides. From different continents even!
4) I’m taking part of the workshop of Klavdij Sluban and although I participates at workshops of really famous photographers like Saudek, Oliviero Toscani, Ralph Gibson, Martin Parr, Stephen Gill, Paul Graham, Joel Peter Witkin, Duane Michals, and who knows who have I forgot, Klavdij Sluban is the best mentor. Perhaps I’m taking part in his workshop in a particular moment of my life, but he opened many windows to me and my photography! He does magic. I sensed how he is doing it. I can’t do it yet on his level, but I understood the principle, I mapped the path I need to take. Don’t believe me? You will see the results in few months.
5) Invitation for exhibitions are raining! First one opened yesterday. Next one is in my town of Novo mesto in April. In May I have an exhibition in Krakow / Poland and then in Novi Sad / Serbia. In November I’m having a solo show in the best photography gallery in Ljubljana / Slovenia and also our workshop group under Klavdij Sluban will exhibit in Novo mesto / Slovenia.
6) I’m selling prints. I know, I know, I’m selling it in very unorthodox way, for a small price, but I don’t care. I’m worker, an artist, but I’m definitely not a salles man. I prefer to get 50 EUR now, then 5000EUR when I’ll be a retired old fart!

Last but not least, let me tell you an anecdote. I felt like this before. It was after I’ve done all the exams at London College of Printing and I was chatting with my mentor. I’ve told him how I feel so strongly that my life will change dramatically. I’ve described his how I have all this knowledge that I’ve gained and now it’s the moment when I will confront it with real life, hitting it hard, like a tsunami. Literally few hours later my girlfriend called me and told me she is pregnant 🙂

Self-portrait like a cave photographer

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borut peterlin 20130212-wpc-avtoportret

In Friday’s issue of Mladina weekly there will be an article about my portraits and I’ve made this self-portrait today with the help of my wife Alenka Peterlin. The inspiration for the portrait was a couple. First I’ve heard many times, that in wetplate technique I look like a native American, second inspiration was to include an element of exploration and third was that it should look raw.
That’s my aim in photography to explore, search and learn. I know I’m doing it in primitive, raw way, but that’s exactly me, having a hell of a good time. Photography is for me what for some people religion is. A mean to become a better man, to transcend boundaries that were set, to change the world. I hope this (blind) faith is captured in the image 😉

Technical side: It was pretty cold, like -2C and to work at this temperature I’m using a normal developer, I’m just developing longer. Usually about 30-35seconds. I extend also sensibilisation of a plate from usual 3 minutes to 5 minutes. And that all there is. Sometimes I add two drops of nitric acid in 100ml of developer, but that’s not so important at working bellow 0C. It was a lot of light so the exposure was 3sec, f/11. This portrait was taken with Kodak Folding Brownie 3A from year about 1905.

I couldn’t have done the portrait without my lovely wife Alenka Peterlin, she is also a photographer. Thank you 😉

You can see this and many other of my creative portraits on the exhibition in the gallery of Institut Jozef Stefan. Opening Monday 18.2.2013 at 18.00.

A portrait of painters White Ice Cream

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artist's collective White Icecream are often using brick pattern in their work, so the element is included in the photograph.

Artist’s collective White Icecream are often using brick pattern in their work, so the element is included in the photograph.

Last week I was commissioned to do a portrait of painters duo White Ice Cream. I’ve done a fantastic portrait of them two years ago and I was reluctant to do another portrait, but a commission is a commission and they are great blocks, so I was very excited to see what we will as their portrait. We were talking and we agreed that we will repeat the brick pattern from their cloths that were an art piece. We tried to make a snowman, but in Ljubljana there was no snow anymore so we went to Krvavec mountain, but snow there was too dry, too frozen, so we made this sort of characters. My idea was that they should go full monty and with one hand cover their “pride” and in the other hand they would hold an ice cream, but they were not up for it. We had a good laugh once again 🙂

Beli sladoled by 20110509_9098

A portrait of the collective White Ice Cream in year 2011

Reviving skylight studio from year 1898, Josip Pelikan Studio

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Dear_readers_I’m_so_honored to announce that in collaboration with Museum of Recent History Celje we will revive portraiture sessions in one of the best preserved skylight studios in Europe. The glass studio was build in 1898 and from 1920 Josip Pelikan was working there. After his death in 1977 his youngest daughter Božena Pelikan took over the family busnis and when she retired in 90’s, the studio was donated to the museum that renovated it with great care for details.

In the following month of February we are planing to revive public portrait sessions in the studio in a noble manner of portrait photography of 19th and 20th Century. Well not every day, but on certain days. I was working really hard to achieve sufficient technical and aesthetic level. First step is to revive the studio, so people could enjoy the nobility that once portrait photography had.

Next is to have workshops on photography techniques of 19th Century and finally my greatest goal is to have a festival of Alternative Photography. I imagine that exhibitions and lectures on the topic would resonate perfectly in this space. I already founded Fotopub festival of documentary photography and I was the Art director of Fotopub during first seven years and the festival continues to thrive, so I’m confident that if I could do it at age 26, I could do it even better 12 years later! Especially because I have huge support in my mentor Miša Keskenović and wonderful people of Museum of Recent History Celje.

But step by step. And first step, first foundation stone is of course photography. Do you like it? Would you like to have a portrait of you in this manner? This is not my whole portfolio, this is just the beginning. Beside ambrotypes the studio will offer also wet plate collodion negative, printed on either salt print, albumen print, cyanotype, gelatin silver-bromide print and so on. But more about that in the following post. Josip Pelikan Studio is located in Celje, Slovenia, EU.

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Advanced far out darkroom technique in black & white photography

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Jure Henigman, an actor, portrayed by Borut Peterlin

Jure Henigman, an actor, portrayed by Borut Peterlin

From Mladina weekly magazine I was commisioned to do a portrait of an actor, Jure Henigman. I’ve already made a portrait of him in 2008 with Zvezdana Mlakar, but I was planning to do something completely different. First of all we’ve met at the parking lot in Ribnica and my first resolution was, no background, just the face and expression. I’m always impressed how an actor can make a story (photograph in my case) just with an expression. I brought my newly made headrest stand about which I was blogging already. A friend and colleague from Ribnica Luka Ileršič show up and show started. He took behind the scene images. I’ve portrayed Jure facing a church, because I liked the light coming from behind. I used ShenHao 4×5″ camera with Rodenstock 210mm lens + a yellow filter. Yellow filter is perfect for B&W portraits I love it! The secret of series Family Album is in a yellow filter!

When I got home the true adventure really started and I’ve made a video about it. I hope you’ll like my exploration of photography down the rabbit hole.

Invitation to the exhibition Castrumfoto 2012 on a theme Disguise

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I’ve been invited to participate in the Castrumfoto International Workshop 2012 that is organized since 2003. The Castrumfoto is an annual workshop for art photographers from Italy, Austria, and Slovenia organised by the Pilon Gallery from Ajdovščina under the leadership of Primož Brecelj. The results of the workshop of eleven artists will be presented on an exhibition in the Pilon Gallery, this Friday, 14.12.2012 with the opening at 19:00.

This year’s theme is A Disguise. My concept is questioning the term disguise and objectivity. I did a series of self portraits, following a dogma of photography that could be defined as un-manipulated, objective photography. I was doing a mug shot, without cloths, staring into a camera. The theme disguise comes into existence only if you see the whole series of self-portraits. For each self-portrait I’ve chosen a different camera, that is ShenHao 4×5″, Mamiya RB67, Zenza Bronica ETRS 645, Nikon D3, Kodak Folding Brownie 3A and Pentax K200. I was trying to maintain all factors that effect photography the same, only camera and a medium on which photograph will be recorded on, will be the variable in this project. I’ve chosen my friends camera Pentax K200 that records infrared specter of light, classic analog camera, digital Nikon D3 and also Wet Plate Collodion as a medium. Wet plate Collodion is sensitive to blue and ultraviolet specter of light.

The presentation will be simple, 50x70cm prints and under the prints there will be a note with characteristics of the camera and medium on which photograph was recorded.

My point here is that all this images are following dogma of photography as an objective recordings of reality, but when you put them together, the questions are arousing which one is more real. Which one is real? Just by noticing how different this self-portraits are, a viewer is faced with the fact that photography is not objective! PHOTOGRAPHY IS THE DISGUISE!

Thx to Luka Gorjup for helping me with infrared self-portrait and my wife Alenka for the help with the rest of self-portraits.

Self-portrait taken with ShenHao 4x5" camera and wet plate collodion.

Self-portrait taken with ShenHao 4×5″ camera and wet plate collodion.

Self-portrait taken with Mamiya RB67 camera and Polaroid fp-100c.

Self-portrait taken with Mamiya RB67 camera and Polaroid fp-100c.

Slef-portrait taken with Folding Brownie and wet plate collodion.

Self-portrait taken with Folding Brownie and wet plate collodion.

Self-portrait taken with Pentax K-200, transformed so it records infrared specter of light.

Self-portrait taken with Pentax K-200, transformed so it records infrared specter of light.

Self-portrait taken with Zenza Bronica ETRS 645 camera and Efke 100 film.

Self-portrait taken with Zenza Bronica ETRS 645 camera and Efke 100 film.

Self-portrait taken with Nikon D3 camera

Self-portrait taken with Nikon D3 camera

A description list of the camera and medium on which the photograph was taken.

A description list of the camera and medium on which the photograph was taken.

Just a sketch how I was planning to present the prints on the wall. It's not The Gallery Pilon.

Just a sketch how I was planning to present the prints on the wall. It’s not The Gallery Pilon.