Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Posts Tagged ‘tips

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 I know what you’re thinking and you are WRONG, you do not publish it immediately on FB with a caption: What’s that?!?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

Video about split toning with sulfide and selenium toner

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Ciao tutti,
As I’ve announced last week, I’m going to publish more videos about my workflow and list more prints on ebay. It takes so much work to do a video, make a print, edit the video and everything that comes along. It took me the whole week to do this video and that’s why I’m listing three prints. Perhaps the price will not reach as high as it would if I would sell only one print, but I am a professional collodion artist and I will try to make a living out of this! Plus my storage room has about half a ton of prints in boxes. I know, because I was moving it recently and it was too heavy for a car transport. I’m printing since age 11, so in 29 years you can imagine how many boxes piled up.

Anyway, here are new prints. I’ve explained everything on video. I want to add that this split toning technique I’ve learned from Mark Osterman and he is the best address if you want to dive into alternative photography. And oh, you must check this out, George Eastman House published their program of workshops for year 2015! I’m going to take at least two of them!

One last, but very important note. I’ve you’ve seen this video after the auction is finished and you would want to buy a print from me, check my EBAY SHOP or if you want to buy that exact print, copy number 5, you certainly can, just send me an email. As a professional collodion artist I have a motto:


Ebay listings:
Edition 2/12, a silver gelatin photograph, from a wet plate collodion

Edition 3/12, a silver gelatin photograph, from a wet plate collodion negative

Edition 4/12, a silver gelatin photograph, from a wet plate collodion negative
Ebay Shop / Borut Peterlin

Darkroom topshit tricks – split toning with sulphide and selenium toner

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I’ve done a video upon my experiment on split toning technique with sulphide and selenium toner. I’ve also record myself doing a selenium toning, but that part is recorded with such a bad English that I’ve decided to klip it out. When you have a split toned print with sulphide toner, you can either keep neutral gray of normal silver or you can dip it in selenium toner and get purplish tone in shadows. Again, with Foma Tone paper, selenium works as witnessed, with Ilford warmtone paper works in chocolate brown and with Efke Varycon paper goes into cold blue tone. It depends.

Concerning the purchase of the print, I’m selling this one in edition of 36 prints for 50 EUR each, so if you need a gift for someone, send me an email.

Test of studio lights Profoto and digital back Leaf demonstration in Ljubljana

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damjan šef 20090319_310620090319_3107_20090319_3148
In Ljubljana, Plesno mesto, Devova 18 Damjan Šef and his firm Profot have a three days demonstration of digital backs Leaf for Mamiya and Hasselblad and also professional exotic studio lightning Profoto. Here is one picture with Hasselblad and Leaf back dimensions 5336 x 4000 pix. First one is as I shot it and second one is crop on the eye. Hasselblad + leaf back 20090319_000132
CROPP Hasselblad + leaf back 20090319_000132-2Hasselblad + leaf back 20090319_000129

Then I try out those big studio umbrellas with flash head 2400 Ws. Amazing light! Here are few pictures with that light behind the lens and also from side.
Flash behind the camera 20090319_3119_20090319_3120

Those large umbrellas are wonderful, but way to big for my outdoor work, not mentioning that without flash-head and stand it costs around 1300 EUR. I try out those large grid and here are few pictures with and without the grid. 20090319_3147with grid 20090319_3138_ without the grid 20090319_3140
Anyhow you can try the equipment by yourself on
Friday 20.3.2009 between 10.00 and 19.00
Sathurday 21.3.2009 between 10.00 and 14.00
Ljubljana, Plesno mesto, Devova 18

Written by Borut Peterlin

20 March, 2009 at 11:38

New Striptiz portrait od dancers Rosana Hribar in Gregor Luštek

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p-striptiz lustek in rosana 20080414_4168

Gregor Luštek and Rosana Hribar 20080414_4118

Here is a new portrait for Mladina’s Stripiz rubric. Rosana Hribar and Gregor Luštek are renown dancers that recently won an important international contest in Hanover. I now Gregor from secondary school but he moved to Ljubljana and I see him only on national celebrations where he performs. The image is shot on a parking lot beside Bežigrad stadium and it’s one of rare free parking lots in Ljubljana. And since it’s free it’s also not maintained and there are so many puddles it looks very surreal, so I wanted for a long time to make a portrait there. When I made first test shot I was surprised myself on blueness of the sky. It’s not artificially saturated, it’s just evening sky, that I underexposed it. Portrait of dancers was perfect occasion and I find a perfect metaphor in contrast between dirt, wet, earth, cold,… and air, sky, clean,…

It’s a metaphor of artist’s pursuit for beauty in everyday.

PS: Klemen Ilovar was assisting me. thx! Please choose one image! I need to submit it today, so quick! thx!

Written by Borut Peterlin

15 April, 2008 at 05:57