TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Posts Tagged ‘The Story Behind a Portrait

Klemen Slakonja, wet plate portait

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Portrait taken on 4x5" camera with petzval lens, exposed on wet plate collodion plate. This is retouched version, I retouched his face from the film negative I've recorded.

Portrait taken on 4×5″ camera with petzval lens, exposed on wet plate collodion plate. This is retouched version, I retouched his face from the film negative I’ve recorded.

Klemen Slakonja is an actor and rising star of TV show business in Slovenia. Few weeks ago I had to make his portrait, but it was raining. I decided to do the portrait in wet plate collodion just the same. Under rain, no sweat! OK, it was just sprinkling rain, but on the end of the shoot I was all wet. I got used to that, actually. Wet wet plate photographer, why not! I arrived half an hour before the shoot, mix the developer and prepare first plate. We exposed it, but when I wanted to develop it I knock the glass beaker off the table and it crashed in front of us.

Klemen was kind enough to wait that I’ve mixed the developer again, but I didn’t filter it, i didn’t had time for that. Plate was fogged so his face wasn’t recognizable. I’ve repeat the portrait with the same camera, Linhof lens and I was exposing normal B&W film. At home I scanned the collodion plate, scanned the film negative and photoshoped that his face was recognizable. Lucky for me, I know all sorts of photography, so if I’m forced to, I use every possible tool to deliver a good portrait to a reader of Mladina weekly magazine. After all the stress, the picture looked fantastic in the printed magazine and it’s one of my favorites.

Perhaps you might wonder why have I portray Klemen as a cowboy. Let me quote Andy Warhol: “I don’t know.”

PS: In less then two hours an auction for my salt print is finishing on ebay. LINK.

My last creative portrait for Mladina weekly

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Zora Stančič, an artist

Zora Stančič, an artist

Today is an important day in my career. After almost eight years I finished my regular collaboration with Mladina weekly. I mean I will still be doing a cover here and there and some special issue, but the collaboration on weekly basis has ended. The main reason is that my work for Mladina involves travel expenses from my home to Ljubljana and back and when I started the job as photoeditor in year 2006, fuel was half the price. I resigned the desk job in 2011 (if I remember correctly. Maybe was 2010?) to work and earn my living as an active photographer. At the time I was desperate to recalibrate my career to go back to photography. I mean have I study photography in Prague, Italy, UK and payed for it a fortune, just to sit behind computer and edit images that I knew I could have done better? It was fun to ride the camera, but the travel expenses grew whereas photojournalistic salary is much lower then editor’s, so at the peak of recession I’ve realized it’s just not worth the money anymore.

That’s one out of the three reasons.

Second one is that I got in love with photography again, processes that were practiced in 19th Century, Wet Plate Collodion and Salt printing process to highlight just two. Intimately I feel this is the path that I need to take, but with day job in Ljubljana I just couldn’t find enough time to pursue the path.

Third reason was fear. I feared that I will finish my career at Mladina in some car accident. In 7,5 years on the road I avoided many accidents and witnessed many many more. Although I’m safe driver in about 18 years as a driver I had only one accident and even that wasn’t my fault! But still I was afraid this was destined to me. Now I finished the job and I’m so happy that I was wrong about that.

What’s next? The bad news is that I’ve jumped out of the plane without a parachute. I have no safe employee in my sight, that’s for sure. The good news is that I think I know how to fly. Well at least I should know! If who, then I should be the one to know how to earn a living from photography! I have many business ideas! One is about to be tested in 6h 26m 27s (Jun 27, 2013 15:25:38 PDT)! On ebay I’m auctioning a print. When I put this print on auction I didn’t know that week later I will finish this chapter of my life and it’s very symbolic that it’s ending today!

And now to the image above. Zora Stančič is very successful Slovenian artist recognized widely and she’s expressing herself mostly trough graphic arts. When I look back to my first creative portrait in Mladina weekly, that was Melita Zajc in year 2006, I look back with a content on the path I’ve taken and the work I’ve done.

Tomorrow’s a new day! I so much look forward!

Severa Gjurin portrayed in wet plate collodion technique

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Severa Gjurin portrayed in Wet Plate Collodion technique by Borut Peterlin

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Severa Gjurin portrayed in Wet Plate Collodion technique by Borut Peterlin

In today’s Mladina weekly my portrait of Severa Gjurin is published. Grega Cokan was assisting me and I’ve made a step test before Severa arrived. Expousure goes from 2 seconds strip to one minute epxposure strip.
PS: How much gay can a step test be? ha, ha…

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!