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 🙂
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.
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.
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 😉
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.
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!
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.
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 😉
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.
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!
/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 😉
Hi all, it’s been awhile but it’s been soooooooooooooo busy! I rode a spinning marathon the day before our Big Move, it was great! The Big Move was too 🙂 Busy at work, like insanely, plus projects with deadlines, some (minor) health issues though not very pleasant, and some more stuff going on have made these past few weeks quite something. In between the darkroom and studio are coming together nicely.
We hung the background paper yesterday, all it really needs is lights set up, the table top set up and I’m good to go there! During the day it looks like this (taken from the “office” part where I have my scanner, printer etc. set up):
This is what it looks like when looking from the doors towards the inside of the space:
And here’s with the background paper (2,75 seems so small now haha) hanging and me being happy 🙂
When you look in the back of the second photo you can see the stairs going up all the way on the left and on the right is an opening. This leads to a short kind off hallway which leads to two cellars. One is my darkroom. On the hallway is a bit more storage space for our things.
The working table has been fixed, big trays stacked underneath it as is the large container with sodium thio-sulphate and a bin. The wet table still has to be connected, waiting for a hot water boiler to arrive. When that’s done I can fill up the storage space beneath them.
Shelves have been hung (quite the challenge with these marl walls!) but it’s there! Chemistry has been unpacked, everything is a bit in place now. Darkroom safelights still have to be mounted, certain chemistry fixed etc. and I can roll again! During actual working in this space things will probably get moved around a little to improve working but it’s pretty nice already I guess 🙂 Have to find a place for my large papers but that will fit in once the time is there. Also, the big white board needs to be mounted to the wall…I hope it will hold…trick so far: no plugs, just screw directly into the wall.
Anyway, looking forward finishing this! I have a proper shoot planned at the end of this month. Need some new collodion first (which is on its way but will not arrive before March 23nd) and need to desperately fix my silver bath. Already have a large erlenmeyer and cooking plate to do that. This week it’ll have to happen as well as the first collodion test as I have been invited by Gulpener Bier brewery to photograph their brewery on collodion for their “PUUR” magazine with a (short) interview of me. Will have to be shot this Sunday / Monday but so cool I’ll have to make my stuff work before then. Only will have to shoot small plates as I’m practically out of collodion oehh…. 🙂
As we’re on the verge of leaving 2013 for 2014 I saw it fit to buy the one camera that I wanted for quite some time: the Holga 120 WPC. I don’t think I’ve bought a more crappy (and cheap) camera haha! But seeing as it is a pinhole capable of shooting 6×12 negatives I thought it to be worth the few bucks (or euros in my case). I love the panoramic size I use in wet plate (4×10″), and now on 6×12 for on the go, sweet! I intend to lith print the images (mostly city and landscapes) using my D2 so I’m actually looking for a 4×5″ glass carrier for my Omega (423-359) to be able to print them.
Anyway, think it’s pretty cool and it weighs next to nothing in my photo bag 🙂
Edit: I found a holder (423-359) with AN top glass though KHB Fotografix. According to them they “have the largest inventory of enlargers, enlarger accessories and parts, and darkroom accessories you’ll find anywhere!” Well, they surely have a lot. I already ordered the red safe light filter for my D2 enlarger from them a week ago and received it the day before yesterday in excellent shape and packing. Anyway, great!
I also shot my first roll of TX400 in the WPC, currently off for developing (due to my move and no products at hand and being terribly impatient I actually sent it off to be developed…I HATE it but I just can’t wait. Long time ago I did that ughh: if you care about your film and want to feel cool about it; develop your own stuff!). Here’s a shot of my empty dr:
I almost can’t believe it but my boyfriend and I will be moving into another house in the beginning of next year. Thus so will Contrastique. Besides that we’re going to have a fabulous kitchen (we love to cook and eat), a really nice garden with actual grass haha the house also has a truly magnificent basement. I didn’t think it was possible to find a house with an even nicer basement but we sure did! As is the case now my darkroom and studio will be made there. So…right now we’re cleaning things out and packing up the entire thing. Now I really realise just how much stuff I have gathered over the last couple of years, especially since I started woking with alternative processes haha…emptying the shelves and packing is A LOT of work 🙂
The basement is actually split in two parts: one separate part which forms the original basement and is already light-tight on its own will be housing my new darkroom. The ceiling is a little lower than I have now (2 metres instead of 2.20) but plenty of space to work, keep my chemistry (fridge), DR-papers and no more risk of flooding as it’s higher than the rest! As soon as the build and decorating starts I’ll post images of its progress. I am soooo looking forward to that!
When you stand with your back towards the entrance of the darkroom you look into the studio space. This is an ancient marl basement dating from the original farmer’s house that once was there from around the 1800’s. Our new house has been build on top of it when the farm was demolished. The former owner restored that basement, made it a 50 cm’s higher and placed a large window with doors in it (daylight studio aaaaahhhh though not towards the North, but hey; I’ll happily deal with that 🙂 ). This is much higher and wider than our current basement and great for a studio. I already have the first assignment planned for 2014, a couple on collodion, so this will be fantastic! I also got asked to make images from racing/mtb bikes for a magazine à la my collodion-alternative-style, something I was already working on for my own, so this is great! I now have the space to get really creative with light and composition.
The basement also contains a toilet (very convenient), a small kitchen with a sink and a fridge so it’s more than perfect. I will also be using it as a office so I don’t have to do my administrative chores at the dining table, which was comfortable and cosy but also made it a mess with papers, cables and the like. This does mean that Contrastique will be closed for about two months before I have everything up and running again. But as my Silver Nitrate bath is shot anyway and due for extensive maintenance I can’t shoot any collodion plates now anyway.
I’m also in the process of planning a date for a dry plate collodion workshop by Jeroen de Wijs. It will be a three day course which covers all the aspects of dry plate negatives and salt printing. This is supposed to take place around March.
So….2014 is already full of beautiful, fun and exciting challenges and I am looking forward to it immensely! I wish you all the same kind of happiness and fortune for 2014!
As mentioned before I tried to modify a standard Fidelity Elite 4×5″ film holder I bought together with the Linhof Master Technika. We seriously messed up the holder beyond use haha! The room for manoeuvring just was too small (the tools were too big for the job, whatever) but the plastic just melted while trying to cut out the dividing section to make a plate fit. Mission failed.
But luckily a holder came on my path (thank you Jeroen!) especially made for shooting wet plates and other alternative thingies that fits a 4×5″ film camera. This back is made by In Camera Industries.
“In Camera Industries produces sturdy, functional, industry-specific tools for the in-camera photographer. Born from a need for durability and accessibility, each product is created for the most professional of image makers, with the ease of use for the novice as well. Established in 2011 by photographer Jody Ake.”
This means I can finally start using my new hotty out in the field! Not sure when that will be because the next outside shoot I have planned (2nd of June) will (partially) be on black glass so 8×10″ / 10×10″ plates. BUT, surely the following one will be with my new camera making 4×5″ clear glass ambrotypes solely.
Edit: Someone asked me how the inside of this holder looks, especially the ridge. I made a photo of it and will post it here as well. The ridge that holds the plate is approx. 1mm thick on all sides.
I also intend to use the darkbox again instead of the tent. Makes it a little more compact on location and, most importantly, I will be able to handle it on my own. No need for someone else to close the zipper, set it up etc. I can now travel on my own to make images. The only disadvantage of the darkbox is its size. The inner working space is quite compact and my large silver nitrate box barely fitted in while working in a handy manner at the same time. So, I thought it would be wise to have a smaller silver box made. It would also save in space and weight, needing less silver nitrate and all. I emailed John Brewer who also made the other two boxes I have and fortunately he had one laying around for a max. size of 5×7″. Perfect!
Now, all I need is some proper weather..(un)fortunately no money in the world can buy that 😉
Ahhh how goes the saying? “Toys for Boys”? No way! “Toys for Gals”! Doesn’t rhyme but sure feels fine 😉
As you know I was saving up for a Chamonix Camera together with a wet plate back (they make great looking ones!) and a cover. I was saving up for this camera to use it out in the field for 4×5″ Collodion Clear Glass Ambrotypes which I can enlarge using my Omega D2 lith-style. The big advantage over such a camera compared to the one I use now is saving weight, +- 20 kilos to be more precise and that’s quite a bit. Lighter camera, lighter tripod, smaller silver bath etc.
Anyway, then this Linhof Master Technika Classic crossed my path. I already have a hard time controlling myself when things like this come up but I managed to restrain myself. But then a friend said: “I’d get it if I were you”, it was simply impossible for me to walk away. So…here it is! My all new portable camera to couple with my Berthiot Perigraphe 90mm lens! It is in immaculate condition, I bought it from the first owner who got this beauty in 2000. It’s about 1,5 kilos heavier than the Chamonix camera but I don’t have to deal with the import duties and 1,5 kilos..well…I’ll get over that part! Get ready for some awesomeness..
I have a collodion shoot planned the 5th of May where we intend to visit a practically deserted village in Belgium called Doel which will be his official inauguration. Looking forward working with this beauty! Will have to convert a film back to hold collodion plates first, hopefully later this week, and have to attach my lens to the Technika lens board, also this week.
-Happy Happy Joy Joy! ❤
I recently received the mask for the mask series and am now working on the concept for this series of images. I have something in mind and today at work I ran into the perfect addition for the photo: the Lastolite Urban Collapsible. I was already thinking of doing something with different backdrops, maybe even paint one myself, but this looked like a great way to start. It’s collapsible so portable, easy to store, easy to get out etc. These backdrops come in 4 different combinations, each one has two different sides to them. I chose the “Rusty Metal” and “Plaster Wall” version which, I think, will work very well with Collodion.
The size of the backdrop is 150 x 210 cm which is pretty large. Big enough to fill up the wall of my studio intended for this anyway. Looking forward to using them. I hope to be shooting some plates around Easter (days off at work!).