Atelier Contrastique

Wet Plate Collodion…not giving up :-)

Reading back this blog I realised it’s been one and half years ago since last collodion test…time for another one that means…
The last post has also been just over a year ago…time for a new one…also…

I’ve been incredibly busy with a lot of things, also photography, but on another level. First of all… I bought a house last year! I set a goal for myself to fix my housing problem with renting being too expensive on my own. I got very very lucky and when I put my mind to something…well…let’s just say I don’t easily give up 😉 But I was also very very lucky. I was able to buy the house I rented first. Utterly amazing! The chances were very slim and the alternatives really would not have been all that great…it’s of very special meaning to me. Miracles do happen! It will take quite a bit of work but that’s part of the fun. Most wonderful thing about this place, besides plethora of others, is that I have a working space! The house came with a garage attached to it, which wasn’t part of the rental version but it sure now is. I have expanded my darkroom there. I recently sort of finished it and finally am able to properly work with all the chemistry and have enough space to actually move around. So, after an unsuccessful test past Monday I was able to redo it today and ended up with images! As soon as I have another free weekend / day I will be shooting outside again. Needless to say I’m immensely looking forward to that!

Secondly, I have photographed more than ever before (I think), but mostly commercial. This has been quite a challenge in more than one way. New conditions for every shoot, adjusting to that and learning new things every time, make this really interesting. Shooting mostly with a Fuji X-T3 (autofocus ftw) with my reliable X-T1 as a backup. Godox AD200 as a portable (wireless!) studio light on location, awesome little device which you can use with heaps of accessories (properly thought-out system). Assignments vary from events to real-estate to corporate photography. Also important…it pays for shit. A lot of it so that’s good!

Thirdly, the Monochrom…well…that’s not going so well…I’ll spare you the details but it’s been sent back to Leica for the fourth time now…I hope this time I will get back something that actually works as it should…anyway, fingers crossed!

Fourthly, working towards a group exhibition that will open next month, on the 27th of february in Alter Schlachthof Eupen (BE) with the F68 photographers collective I joined a while back. I have visited a bit of first world war areas (Somme, Verdun) with my monochrom as I got triggered, firstly, by my visit to the Elzas in 2018, and secondly because Paul is also interested in visiting these areas and it sort of became a collective undertaking. These landscapes are, even on its own, quite fascinating. But when you dive into its history and you know what exactly is beneath your feet it gives the whole a different experience walking about. There have been so many killed during that war, such a dirty war being the first time poisonous gas has been used. So many bombs have been thrown, grenades, mines etc. And they are still there, lurking from underneath the ground, waiting for you to dig them up (or leave’m). So many still unexploded devices literally litter the grounds today. So many people buried on the battlefields, never been dug up. So much ground polluted from the chemical bombs. It will take between 300-700 years to clean everything up…

Dead Man’s Road, Pozières, Somme (iphone)

The more I learned about this war, the less it made sense (as if it ever does, but still). As a ww1 officer once said; “It’s not sending people to war, it’s sending people to die”. The woods in for example the Somme have been the backdrop of horrible battlefields. You can find the locations of these woods on old maps dating from around that period and you can look up these spots on google maps using satellite footage and find the forests are still there today. Of course back then they have been completely devastated by the war, but eventually grew back. They are filled with craters of the intensive bombing and also packed with what’s left of the trenches. When you start digging you’ll find a lot of things…grenades, shells, communication cable, barbwire, you name it. Sometimes you don’t even have to dig, just to keep your eyes open and scroll the surface. Walking there is like walking through a vivid and tangible history book.

The road alongside Bailiff Wood, Somme (iphone)

My main focus is the forests, as it always is, and I like to convey its sadness and eeriness. My images are never really happy so I hope people will feel slightly uncomfortable and with the exhibition sharing also the location of the shots I hope people will be triggered to look up their whereabouts and learn (more) about this war. I find it hard to get into my head that after ww1 we also deemed it necessary to have another round with ww2 (of course ww1 pretty much formed the grounds for ww2). Two generations war… For the love of all mankind I hope we get spared a third…

Onto the collodion testing…it’s winter here of course, the darkroom is not all that warm so chemistry is cold. First plates I did indoors (with new lights I have not really used before) didn’t go so well. Perfectly black plates implying chemistry-wise it should be fine. Today I tested outside. 30 seconds on f4,5…still perfectly black… second plate 4 minutes in silver nitrate instead of the previous 3 and an exposure time of 2 and a half minutes. Development time…1 minute…but an image appeared at last! No chemical fogging, it looks pretty good really. Probably exposure time has to be even longer to shorten development time.

Looking back at the first test I did here back in 2018 the contrast was insanely high, the images now look a lot better. Most important of today; fun it was! Looking forward shooting more, I just love doing this. I promise (also myself) that it won’t take another year  🙂


Contrastique goes semi-Numerique

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 22.18.49.png

It’s amazing, and beyond my wildest dreams (well..) and it came to be true…my long awaited wish for which I sold my Hasselblad and M6 (and bloody kidney) to be able to fund it…the Leica M Monochrom (typ 246).

I’m not going to write an all-educated-elitarian review on this camera filled with upperclass words to describe something that is actually very simple:  ❤️

This camera is so…camera! No unnecessariness..just a shutter button (with s,c etc), and a shutter speed dial. And a place for a lens (summicron 35mm). And a rangefinder. And something to attach the strap to. And…no color! Fieuuww.. 🙂

I’m still finding my way with this camera but so far…man…I love it. 50 shades of grey is nothing compared to this! Just wow. Underexposing standard to keep the highlights from blowing out. The detail in the shadow parts is absolutely stunning. The handling is so very nice. And it sounds so very delicately delicious. Looking forward to printing my first grande negatives from these files. I’m still working on the Serendipity theme, which pretty much has to be finished in December (preferably) so first things first but nonetheless…already have some images in mind worthy of being made transparant.

Anyway, didn’t think I’d ever get excited about a digital camera again, but this really does it for me. So far, it’s really what I hoped for. And it’s so ridiculous! Ha, away with you rationalness all time, passion and love it is!

Thus…onto what’s really important…images!

So..there you have it; my first impression! Very scientific, I know. With a lot of technical detail also. Eat it! MM246 FTW ☀️


Darkroom No. 8 is a Fact!

Yes, ladies & gentlemen..it’s THAT time again 🙂 I seem to have grown quite fond of building them, so gotta keep up the pace!

I moved again, to a nicer place, and had to set up the darkroom, also again. I planned for it to be on the attic, only the wet table turned out to be too large to get it up the frikkin’ stairs. Remodelling the place to make it go up that stairs is not (yet) an option so decided to take a different approach.

I split up the sections a bit. The wet table and enlarger ended up in a room with the central heating system and washing machine. Already had connections for water and drainage so it took me and my dad a bit of work to fix the piping (cool to do with my dad!) but did a good job.

The living room is part working space, part dining and stuff, the heart of it being a large table measuring 125 x 250 cm. And across the room a large white board of 100 x 200 cm (yes, size does matter at times :p ). And then there’s a walk-in closet room for my clothing and across storage for chemistry bottles, other glassware and this and that (of which there’s a lot).

 

Works pretty well so far! Not sure if I’m going to keep the enlarger in the place it’s at now, doesn’t get much use these days with the contact printing and can make better use of the space it’s filling up now.

Photos suck, sorry ’bout that. For lack of spirit I made them using my iPhone.

I already used it, better said, I really had a deadline to make. I joined a photo group a while back, and we’re applying for a group exhibition and had to prep an example image of the concept. I will get deeper into the conceptual bit further down the lane somewhere, so don’t ask yet please..

They will be portraits shot digitally (most likely and hopefully using the Monochrome…), making digital negatives of these files and printing them using Van Dyke. Exposure time of the paper was 17 minutes using an UV-light source. I will share the testing with you:

 

Anyway, that is as it stands a bit for now. More to come soon, and by that I mean not the build of darkroom No. 9, pinky promise 🙂


Van Dyke 2017

5 years…..5 YEARS it has been since I last made a Van Dyke…oef…Glad I kept a blog so that I could look at the notes again 🙂

Recently I joined a photo group called “F68” to broaden my horizon and to get back into my own photography more. It’s a foundation that was established in Limburg, the Netherlands,  in 1968 and it’s an autonomous photographers collective. I’m very happy to be a part of this group.

For a potential upcoming exhibition we are working on a theme regarding (mass) consumption. I will elaborate more on this later on but I came up with a concept using images made digitally, printing large format negatives and contact-printing them using Van Dyke.

I once got myself the Epson R2880 to print these negatives but has been left on a shelf for so long now I think it’s more dead than alive. However, at work I have a wonderful Epson Stylus Pro 7890 & 9800 at my disposal and a salesman who mentioned they could get me Omnijet Clear Film on roll (!). I received a 43cm wide roll for testing and so far it’s great!

Original black-and-white file

Original black-and-white file

I turned a file from my Fuji camera into a black and white, inverted it into a negative, adjusted the print settings and printed it on this Omnijet transparent film using the 7890. Yesterday I fixed the chemistry, bought some new paper, Hahnemuhle Bamboo Mixed Media (for the concept I was looking for a durable renewable paper), and had a go at Van Dyke again…oh boy was that fun 🙂

The printer settings I’m about to post I took of this website. For more info look there.

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 08.57.17.png

IMG_7684

Image in printing frame with UV light on it

IMG_7685

Closer

IMG_7686

After exposure, before washing & fixing

IMG_7689

Final rinse

Paper used: Hahnemuhle Fineart Bamboo Mixed Media
Single coated paper 36 x 48 cm
Exposure time: 25 minutes
Wash: 2 minutes
Fix: 5 minutes dilution 3% Sodium Thio-sulphate
Final rinse: 20 minutes

Unfortunately I forgot that the drying darkens the image quite a bit so the end result is too darkish, and I have to do more practice with coating the paper (you see strokes) but wauw, where have I been all these years ?! Anyway, good to be back  and more to follow soon 🙂

 


Darkroom No. 7 – hitting the finish line!

15th of June 2017, 29 degrees celcius. Seemed like the perfect day to finish the build of the darkroom 😊

Going through all the still unopend boxes to make sure I had all the ones with “doka ’17” written on them was quite a bit of work. But hard work always pays off and everything has been installed now except for the glass plates. Good to go!

Took quite a bit more time than anticipated but very happy now!


Cheers! 🍻


Building Darkroom No. 7

Yep, it’s that time again 😊

Trying to rebuild my darkroom again. Not going as good and fast as I hoped but it’s slowly getting there… 😊 Moving can be quite demotivating but I know why I’m doing it..


Contrastique @ Shoot Amsterdam!

Shoot Amsterdam is a yearly photographic event held in Amsterdam @ Pakhuis de Zwijger. I will be one of the speakers during the “How do they do it” sessions in the Studio at the 5th floor.

I will be talking about the wet plate collodion process, its place in time, so a little history and a little nowadays, accompanied by some visuals on a screen. Needless to say I’m very excited to be participating in this great event and hope to see you there!

Oh…and Sign up; it’s for free and it’s gonna be fun 🙂

shootadam


Contrastique Meets Silvercreek!

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-14-56-08

This carefully hidden project finally saw the light of day and now the light of my blog 🙂

21st of June
I received a call. I hardly ever pick up my phone so I had to return the call. Menno picked up when I did, marketing manager at the B32 group. He said he saw my website and was excited about the collodion imagery. He asked me to have a cup of coffee with him as he wanted to talk about an interesting proposal he had in mind. The 27th of that month we sat down in a bar in Maastricht and he began to tell the story of Silvercreek, a clothing brand under the flag of Open32 / Blue32, with 65 shops in the Netherlands.

They are in the process of putting Silvercreek into the market as a stand-alone brand, like Levi’s and G-Star for example, with their dedicated stores. Silvercreek used to be a small mining town in America, now used by artisans who gave it new life after the mines closed.  Inspired by this, Silvercreek thought it would be a great idea bring back craftsmanship and let ‘New Artisans’ tell their story.

_gys5450b

So the first season they approached a furniture maker with whom they worked together. The second season they worked together with Evelien van Zonneveld from Werfzeep, who they visually followed in her process of soap-making, wearing clothes by Silvercreek. They also worked together with Frank Abbenhuis from Witloft, who they also followed in his process of apron-making.

In short “New Artisans” are asked to tell their story in front of the camera while wearing Silvercreak clothing. But also to create something in collaboration with Silvercreek. Evelien designed a special soap together with Silvercreek to be sold in their stores. Frank designed a special apron for them.

indra_silvercreek_2016-166

Back to the coffee… “So…,Menno continued his story, this brings us to the point why I am here. Would you be interested in being our next “New Artisan” for the FallWinter collection of 2016?”

Wow… I remembered him asking if I wanted to sleep a night over it before answering. No need for that, I replied. Of course I want to do this! He had a thing for black-and-white photography and the craftsmanship involved in making the wet plate collodion imagery. The mood in the collodion images fitted their look-book perfectly so I immediately felt a click with their approach. The only thing was that they were in a bit of a hurry as the new collection would hit stores in September. If I were able to plan a date soon where he would get the entire team together to shoot the event… The rest is history 😉

_gys5585

14th of July
9 0’clock in the morning, the bell rang. The make-up artist, Judith Pronk, arrived. It took the rest about half an hour more to gather. The rest of the team was made up by: Renee Ferron (stylist), Gijs Spierings (photographer), Sherman Emers (videographer) and of course Menno himself. At first hair & make-up, then clothing. I will let the images speak for themselves, but it was a great day. Lots of laughing, laughing until the tears rolled down my cheeks. Let’s say Judith had some work that day 😉 We shot images while me playing around with some of my cameras, some posed, some not so much. But the most cool part was that I was going to shoot a wet plate, and that they could follow the entire process of making them.

Explaining the process from start to finish took up a lot of time, including cleaning and everything. We first decided to do a portrait of me, the camera handled by Erik (focusing and exposing), while the chemistry and handling of the plate remained with me. We then planned to do a shot of the new jeans in their collection to make the circle round but time simply went too fast. When the clock hit 8 in the evening we all said goodbye and a truly wonderful day came to an end. To be continued.

_gys6191

We all kept in touch, I received all images from the shoot (wow), and Menno and I talked about the jeans some more. We both liked the idea to do an actual proper wet plate exposure of both new jeans models, copper for men, and amber for the ladies. So, it happened. On the 24th of August Menno arrived in my studio again, to shoot the jeans. Fantastic! Fabric looks so dead-gorgeous on wet plate! Everyone was happy. The images are going to be used as the campaign shots for these jeans, which is fantastic! They will be shown in a lot of places, even in bus shelters (sorry for all the exclamation marks haha)!

On top of that shoot, he had another proposal for me; As I was now the female “New Artisan” using old photographic techniques, they figured it would be awesome to put Gijs opposite of me as the male “New Artisan” using modern photographic techniques. And that it would be cool if I were to shoot Gijs for these series. WowWowWow! Never expected that to happen! So, I had to shoot a part digitally, funny as I ended up using a Canon EOS 5ds (I don’t like working with Canon AT ALL, but it was okay ;-)) But I was also asked to shoot a wet plate of Gijs, one with one of his cars, and one portrait just like mine.

Images of my shoot:

26th of August
I took of to Veghel where we planned the shoot at the “Koekbouw”, an awesome industrial spot there. The even more cool thing about this shoot was that Gijs normally photographs cars, Mercedes for example. And I just happen to love cars so it all came together! He arranged two cars for this shoot and I would follow him while photographing these. One was a Ferrari 348TS, and the other an old Mustang from 1965, both in impeccable condition. Both awesome as hell! Once again a great day! For collodion however, it was quite hard; temperature that day was 31 degrees. Still issues with my fixing bath giving spots, as became clear after the shoot; rinsing capabilities were limited and no KCN anymore for me. So, not a perfect shoot wet plate-wise but awesome nonetheless!

gijswetplate

Apart from the story of Gijs and me, there were two more artisans asked for this edition: a couple working together as blacksmiths under the name of Atelier 79. They designed and produced a special coin for Silvercreek which will be in the pockets of the new male jeans when you buy one. This refers to the coin in mine-workers’ jeans to identify the deceased. And a cool necklace for the ladies in the shape of a paroquet, which were used in the mines to warn for gas leaks. Great people to have met and I’m looking forward seeing their atelier in person!

Images of Gijs, shot by me and edited by Gijs, the man himself

12th of September
The big national presentation of the FallWinter Collection 2016 🙂 Everyone, every employee in their stores, all who helped, all who modeled, got invited to join the presentation party which was held at the Koekbouw in Veghel. Of course we went too, and it was fantastic beyond words. Menno told me a little of what was going to happen but he kept the best part silent. We got there at around 7 in the evening. Got something to eat and drink, and watched all people walk in Silvercreek clothing, which was a pretty surreal sight on its own.

The jeans on wet plate collodion, 8×10″:

An official opening speech, live music, and a place where all new collections of all brands they represent at Open32, were shown. At a little over 10 we got to the special event that was announced earlier on that evening. It’s where they were to introduce their new jeans line in a spectacular kind of way. We were invited by Menno for a little sneak-preview before that moment. Luckily. Because what I saw when we entered that space…it was quite moving. This space is huge, about 100 metres in length, and impressive on its own. It was the same space we used for the shoot a few weeks back. To dress it up properly is quite the challenge. They succeeded. Big time. The space was entirely empty except for 4 HUGE drapes hanging from the ceiling behind each other in the middle of the space. Each drape spanned 5 by 3 metres… and contained my wet plate images! The first was the portrait of myself, the second the amber version of the jeans, the third the portrait of Gijs and the fourth the copper version of the jeans. I was stunned and overwhelmed. I never expected anything like this.

hal_lr

After that private sneak-preview everyone was invited into the hall, and the jeans were presented in a different coolish manner-style. Menno bought an SRV-wagon about a year ago and completely revitalised it, turning it into an actual driving Silvercreek selling point, which contained all the new jeans. Everybody received a special coin upon arriving that evening and with that coin, it became clear that it was to be used as a voucher for a free pair of new jeans for everyone! Cool huh! Everybody jumped the wagon of course 😉

20160912_213623-animation

The evening ended with some lovely dancing on beats and strings from the band. And with that this story also comes to an end. For now that is. This story is anything but over so….to be continued 🙂

Above images of the presentation courtesy of Erik Slangen.

Check this link over here —> sc-fw-2016-magazine-3108_lres_spreads for the original pdf of the new Silvercreek Magazine and knock yourself out!

Credits: All images where I am on, unless stated otherwise, copyright by Gijs Spierings Photography.

 

 

 

 


Darkroom No. 6 – the Final

  
After having thoroughly enjoyed a trip to Portugal it was time to take that final step in finishing the darkroom; hooking up the wet table.  

Erik, not experienced in plumbing, was looking up to the job because he felt a little insecure. Due to this darkroom being housed on a squat-basis there are quite a few limitations on how to attach the table to existing water hoses. And a boiler had to be built in as there is no warm water in that space. So, all the more challenging. 

He made a life-size drawing on how the piping needed to be done with the exact measurements and then we started building. The drawing made it so clear that even I could understand it perfectly. Everything was built using compression fittings so if ever, for whatever reason, this thing has to be disarmed and put back again, it’s easily possible. Comforting thought 🙂

Tonight I shall be showing Erik the reward of all this hard work; learning him to develop film! Yes, another soul to dive back into Analogue! I normally do not look forward to developing film (after 10+ years it does get a little boring :-)) but this time it’s different. This time I can’t wait!

And there will be plenty of film sooooo lucky us!  

   
    
   


Junghans Darkroom Timer

/startofsillypost This is a rather silly post but I am so happy with this haha! After having seen and used this item at the dry plate workshop from Jeroen I just had to frantically look for one when I got back home. I did (of course; if i have my mind set on something I will get it) and I found one so…here it is, all the way from Ireland, my Junghans all-mechanical darkroom timer 😉

/endofsillypost

(more…)