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Dutch Alternative Photography Meeting & Artist Talk: Jeroen de Wijs over Collodiumprocedés

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Dutch Alternative Photography Meeting & Artist Talk: Jeroen de Wijs over Collodiumprocedés

Zondag 19 april 2015
13.00 tot 16.30 uur (de lezing begint rond 14 uur)

‘t Oude Pothuys
Oudegracht 279
3511 PA Utrecht
030 231 8970
http://www.pothuys.nl/

10 minuten loopafstand van het CS en van een gratis parkeer omgeving (Heling). Zie: http://tinyurl.com/o32qodq

Toegang gratis.
Aanmelding is niet verplicht, wel gewenst i.v.m. beperkte ruimte in ‘t Oude Pothuys.
Aanmelden kan via de Facebook event-pagina of via DutchAlternativePhotography@gmail.com.

‘Toeval, traagheid, ambachtelijkheid’. Jeroen de Wijs (Boerdonk, 1975) weet precies wat hem aanspreekt in collodium-procedés. Tijdens de eerste bijeenkomst van Dutch Alternative Photography zal hij enthousiast vertellen over de liefde voor zijn vak. Hij heeft genoeg te melden. Niet voor niets experimenteert hij al jaren met 19e eeuwse collodium-technieken. Toch is Jeroen geen stoffige laborant. Als kunstenaar wil hij vroege fotografische processen graag zelf in de vingers krijgen zodat hij ze kan aanwenden voor zijn eigen werk: ‘Het is niet zo dat ik het oude wil reproduceren. Ik zoek juist naar moderne beeld- en presentatievormen’.

Dutch Alternative Photography is een platform voor alternatieve fotografie technieken in Nederland en Vlaanderen geïnitieerd in 2012 door An Zuriel. Het doel van dit platform is het overdragen van alternatieve fotografie kennis aan geïnteresseerden en het voor iedereen toegankelijk maken van het fenomeen alternatieve fotografie. Naast het online platform, wil Dutch Alternative Photography een podium geven voor netwerken en uitwisseling van kennis. Aan dit initiatief werken: Indra Moonen, Jeroen de Wijs, Herman Maes en An Zuriel.

Personal Matters 4 & 2015

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Again, it’s been a while since I last posted here. Again, lots have changed. Again, it was pretty chaotic. The ecstatic feeling since the last post has made place for quite a few ups and downs, of which the latter seems to have prevailed a bit. 9 years of relationship doesn’t “wear off easily” (for lack of better words) and leaves you with a hole which you only come to realise over time. Now I finally feel like I’m slowly getting my wits about me again and am looking forward to find out what this new year has in its pockets.

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In short (oh well…) I have moved once again, this time hopefully for a longer while to come but the odds seem on the up and up.  It’s an anti-squat building (legal squatting to prevent abuse of an empty building) which means it’s a whole lot cheaper than anything you compare it with and it’s BIG. It used to be a monastery, but also a school and a facility to house heavy autistic people. It has been thoroughly renovated 10 years ago so it’s in excellent condition with double windows, a large kitchen, a bathroom with a bath and separate shower and a separate toilet. And 6 rooms to do whatever we like with (storage mostly haha). And a HUGE garden which covers about 30 by 30 meters.

The image above you see a part of the building being paralel to the road; that’s our part, and a part perpendicular; that will be the studio part. Yes, good news! Today that part of the building became available, or at least for checking out, and we will be building our working spaces there, starting like next week or so! Finally I will be able to set up my darkroom again and studio. There’s even a doorway from our living room to that part of the building. So…that was excellent news today, can’t wait to get going 🙂

View from studio to our house

View from studio to our house

The rooms are approx. 7 by 8 meters and about 4 meters high. Should be big enough 🙂 Of course, the development will be posted here…

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Anyway, in short, that’s how it stands. I’ve shot some more film but still haven’t gotten around to developing them. I have also shot some more Impossible, as you can see below, can’t find the others. The view from this place is really lovely as the first image shows. Hope to be able to post something more interesting soonishly. Until then and after that: all the best for 2015 for all of you!

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Survey: The Practice of Alternative Photographic Processes Worldwide

This survey contains 20 short questions. Its purpose is to provide an overview of the alternative photography community around the world, including: current practices, developments and requests on personal, as well as community level. The aim is to use the results of this survey to improve practice applications and conditions, and to offer new and improved services to alternative photography users, by working together with commercial and non-profit organizations in the field.

The survey is an initiative of Dutch Alternative Photography and is operated with the help of other organizations, such as AlternativePhotography.com and GOA-CAP. A summary of the results will be made public at the end of October 2014 via DutchAlternativePhotography.blogspot.com and www.AlternativePhotography.com. At a later date, the full report will also be made publicly available.

Any questions regarding this survey can be sent to: DutchAlternativePhotography@gmail.com.

Click here for the link to the survey.

Personal Matters 3 & Shipping Containers

It’s been over three months since I last posted here. Things have changed again quite dramatically. It’s still a bit messy and rollercoaster-like but good things are happening.

So here we are, three months down the road. I still don’t have a working space; I realised my rent for housing right now is too high to be able to rent another space for working so I’m looking for a different solution (on paper calculations always seem so pretty and viable 🙂 ).

I met someone new, also looking for a place to stay, so we might be doing that together. Fast you say? Yes. If it doesn’t work out it’s best to know sooner than later. And what certainty do you ever really have?

My personal photography I have kept to a bare minimum. The thought of not being able to work in my darkroom frustrates me in a way that I do not want to think about my work right now. I have shot a couple of rolls of film that still need development (don’t need a darkroom for that but have to pick up stuff to do it).

I did visit FoMu in Antwerp and Musée de la Photographie à Charleroi (—> wowwww) during my holidays past month. We also visited the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht which I had postponed until then. We have been on a photographic journey to Cockerill-Sambre in Belgium, Liege area, together with my dad and brother. We’ll be going back there for a more extensive visit, hopefully somewhere soon. Past weekend we visited Ghent to see the exhibition ‘Fotografie Herontdekt’ at Zebrastraat which had work of Jeroen de Wijs, Marinus Ortelee & Charlotte Edam, Roger Kockaerts and a couple of more to me unfamiliar people. Worth a visit. If you want to stay over look at this great Apartment Sleepstreet which we greatly enjoyed during our stay 🙂

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So, not doing nothing but merely focusing on different things, which is a healthy thing to be doing from time to time anyway. Trying to find back myself and my photography, but also looking at mistakes made and figuring out what’s really important and go from there. Things can only grow stronger after this. My spirits are high. I do miss you however, and my collodion chemistry so hope to get things back together soon 🙂

Personal Matters 2 & Impossible

I didn’t think there was a need for part two after the previous one but I guess there is now. Again, this blog is not meant to be about personal issues but these events will certainly have its impact on me, and evidently, on my work to come.

I am in the process of moving again. This time on my own. My boyfriend and I split up several weeks ago. I won’t go into depth here because firstly it’s really none of your business, and secondly, one post can’t quite cover it in full. I have found a new apartment where I’ll probably settle next week or so. Still working on finding a decent working space for not too much money. Problem is I need quite the bit of space after having accumulated all this stuff over the years. Anyway, I am sure it will all pan out and you will be the first to know, I promise 🙂

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I plan on building furniture myself, mostly for kicks, but also to save money and refrain from buying new items. I have never bought a bed, a table, a cupboard etc. I have none of that so that will be fun. I just have lots of photography thingies but you can’t sleep or eat on those.. Lots of practise to be had in order to refine my building skills 😉

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Recently we received some new Impossible film at work; SX70 with coloured borders. The film is supposed to be improved over the old version, which I think really sucked, so after having given up on it decided to give it one last go….I like it 🙂 I exclusively shoot black-and-white images so this colourful experimental maybe-not-even-funny-but-it-is film made me like it. In between this oh so personal post I will post some first Impossible Abstractism results.

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As for the rest, well, I guess I’ll keep you updated. Hope to be back in full production order again..luckily I don’t necessarily need a darkroom to make images 🙂

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Personal Matters

I know this is a blog about photography, mostly alternative things, but behind all that is a person, me obviously, and as a person the things you experience will have their effect on the body of work. In that light I feel compelled to share with you the things I have experienced since the beginning of this year, health wise.

In the Netherlands it is a costum to get your cervix checked for cancer or indications that there might be something wrong from the age of 30. I hit the big 30 last year so I received a wonderful invitation for my first check up. It’s not really pleasant but nothing horrid either until I got back the results.

Pap 3b was the verdict and I was shocked immensely. I do sports, quit smoking almost 6 years ago, eat healthy (or at least I’d like to think that I do :-)) so you don’t expect your body to be anything else but healthy. I’ve read and heard horror stories where you would get sedated locally with syringes (aarrrggghhhh) and where they would take a biopt to see how bad the cells were affected and if it needed further treatment. Unfortunately this was exactly the case 😦

The 10th of February I had an appointment at the hospital where they would have a closer look with a microscope. They decided that the field with these troubled cells was too big so I got the local sedation part (absolute horror to me; syringes do not belong there!) and they took three biopts to see where the cells would be most worrysome. Two weeks later the results came in and I was invited back for further treatment as there was too much affected tissue to leave it.

Past April 28th was the big day. Scared because of the last visit which really didn’t feel all too cool with a couple of clumsy students (long live academical hospitals) starting that session I wasn’t happy going back for a more extended version of it. Fortunately these two women where a lot nicer and more gentle and I survived the colorations, local anaesthetics and removal of tissue again.

Today I got back the results and it came out as CIN 2, which is good. Just ‘nervous’ cells, no cancer and no indication of formation into that. I get to go back in half a year from now for a new test to see how the remaining cells are behaving but hopefully that will be the last of it.

I have had my doubts whether I should tell this story or not. I did do it because it had a much bigger impact on me than I would have ever imagined possible. And I got the soft-pretty-much-okay version of it. I think everybody knows someone, including me, who had a worse version to go through. It makes you feel vulnerable and the god-like feeling of ‘this will never happen to me’ slipped away for a bit. Live your life like it is your last is good advice but at the same time hardly realistic. I’d be frikkin’ tired everyday and possible would have accidentally killed myself along the way haha 😉 But maybe it makes you a little less dramatic about everyday-so-tiny-matters which become meaningless when you’re not healthy, albeit it being so horribly cliche.

I feel for the people who are forced to visit hospitals on a regular base and who have to undergo nasty examinations. Nothing compared to what happened to me but I was thoroughly impressed nonethess. It’s all relative of course. So, now I feel like I can pick up where I left off, for example the making of the Disposable Crisis book and my dry plate photography.

Anyway, love to you all! And one last thing I wish to close this story with is a Haiku (originally in Dutch but I did my best to translate) someone sent me the other day, out of the blue, because we met on a strange occasion. Thank you, Jo Merckelbagh, for your wonderful words in a time where they have more meaning than any other given time.

The empty room
motionless breathes the silence
outside falling leaf

De lege kamer
ademt roerloos de stilte
buiten vallend blad

My Backyard

Two Fridays ago I had a day off as I had to prep the collodion demo for the TedX event. It was gorgeous weather and for the first time in our new place I had the time and opportunity to shoot some collodion wet plates! Our garden is really pretty (to me at least) and thought it would make for a great start of this season. Spring has arrived and all kinds of lovely flowers and leaves are exploding from out of nowhere. Quite different from our previous garden where most of it consisted of stone haha!

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This was also the first session after the dry plate collodion workshop and I cleaned the plates much thorougher than I did before. It certainly paid off! No need to use rotten stone with black glass, or sub the plates either when you take your time to clean them properly without taking short cuts. I first cleaned them with much more calcium carbonate solution than I used to do. After that I made sure the ridges where absolutely free of excess cleaning substance and I polished them with a clean cloth, like really long. Worked like magic 🙂 First time proper real usage of my darkroom! Happy as a goose 🙂

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The images are on 8×10″ black glass, photographed using my good-ole Steinheil lens, aperture at around 16. Exposure times were around 4 seconds.

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The contrast in light on the last plate (which I actually did first) is a little too high. But I like it anyway 🙂 Of course, what comes after shooting and drying is varnishing the plates. Instead of heating each plate using the alcohol burner I decided to place them on a tray warmer. I have one that can hold 5 8×10″ plates at the same time. This works really well! Saved quite a bit of time.

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I know my varnish gave a bit of issues the last time I used it so kind of expected it to really act up now. It did. Always make sure you varnish a test plate first before doing the real ones! It dissolved the image and looks like the following image:

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It was a plate of the garden but an overexposed one so no loss there, just a funny example of what varnish can do 🙂 I added a bit of distilled water to my varnish and the problem was solved. The rest of the plates looked just fine. As far as the specific why goes…don’t know. The alcohol in the varnish perhaps collides with an older collodion used to make the plates (same alcohol in both solutions though)? As long as I know how to solve it I don’t see a problem. I love this varnish too much to use the other horrible smelling alternatives. And the traditional Sandarac varnish is a proved recipe; why change a winning team?

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

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TEDxUHasselt & Wet Plate Collodion

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A while back I got invited to be a speaker on the TEDxUHasselt and talk about my Disposable Project. I found it an honour and a great way to work on my public speaking so I said yes. However, due to circumstances that happened the last few months, health wise,  family-matter wise, the move, busy period at work due to less colleagues etc. I slowly got the feeling I bit off more than I could chew. It’s not in my nature to cancel things or say no to things but the feeling got stronger and due to all that happened I wasn’t able to put all the effort in prepping this talk than I wanted but also needed to. After a lot of deliberating I finally decided to withdraw so they had the time to look for someone else. It was a hard thing to do but I felt really relieved afterwards. Sometimes you just have to take a few steps back and regain your wits.

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Once I informed them of my decision they mentioned that there would be a possibility for me to give a demo / lecture on the wet plate collodion process, if I wanted to. Well, why not! Great way to still be there and contribute in a field I am familiar with , so no huge preparation needed besides the obvious material prepping. I am very happy I did it the way I did, it was a wonderful day, met great people, heard very interesting stories, shared some cool-photography things and just had fun! Also one of the first gigs I did on my own, without Bart, as he had to work. It was a long day but a fruitful one 🙂 The talks were great, some talks were fantastic and inspiring. Some of the speakers:

Charles Spence (UK), the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University and talked about Pleasure and Pain.
Peter Perceval (BE), a Belgian writer, director and producer. He revealed why the world needs funny people for innovation, based on recent developments in neuroscience.
Thomas Spaas (BE), not only a lawyer specialising in Belgian and International taxation, he is also co-director of the Belgian Bitcoin Association. He focused on the regulatory aspects of Bitcoin in general and on providing legal support to the association and its members.
Yves Tieleman (BE), a Project Manager at Group Machiels, leading the research, development and demonstration of the Enhanced Landfill Mining concept and the Closing the Circle project.

These were the speakers that stood out to me but I missed the last round of speakers due to having to finish varnishing the plates. There were more speakers from the UK, India and the United States.

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Special thanks go out to Maxim Renaerts and Wouter Vanoppré for making it happen for me. And another special thanks goes out to the man from the kitchen staff who, on the end of the day, surprised me by loading all of my gear on a 3-story high-carrying wagon so I didn’t have to drag everything piece by piece back to my car. You made my day! If you want to know more about the speakers that day etc. have a look at their website.

 

Silver Nitrate – Heavy Maintenance Boiling

My original silver nitrate bath dates from the beginning of my collodion time; 2009. I filter the bath before and after every use, every time. A proper taking care of the bath is crucial for your images. And it’s expensive enough to want to take proper care of it. Every now and then it gets so polluted by ‘radicals’ that just filtering won’t do it anymore. I put the flask in the sunlight, cover it with a sheet of toilet paper and let all the nasty things evaporate. Measure pH and density, adjust where needed and it’s good to go. However, after having used this bath for 4 years (issues started last year) it gets so contaminated that sunning won’t do the trick as well. I got these really tiny specks on my plates which I couldn’t trace back to anything else than a heavily polluted silver bath. A conversation with Jeroen confirmed that. So, it was time for some drastic measures 🙂

Example of a specked plate, cropped to show it better.

Example of a specked plate, cropped to show it better.

Boiling! Yeah! So…when you have a solution of silver nitrate of 1 litre, you add distilled water until you have 1.5 litres. Then you boil it back to its original amount, filter, measure, adjust where needed and done! As simple as that 🙂 Well, it is really that simple! Only, where to put it in when boiling? I ordered a 2 litre erlenmeyer flask. I bought a (cheap) cooking plate with too little power. Heating up the solution took more than one hour. I’m easily bored so no thank you 🙂

Next I bought an induction plate with a little bit more balls 🙂 But induction needs inox to function, so no glass. I bought a stainless steel pot and boiled it in that. Went incredibly fast but I simply do not really trust a stainless steel pot for this. So, I decided to fill up the pot with distilled water and place the erlenmeyer holding the silver nitrate solution in it, au bain marie style, so to speak. Two good things: if the glass breaks the pot will keep it from going bye-bye. And by using distilled water for cooking the solution is preserved and not mixed with nasty tap water. It worked very well, except that the erlenmeyer had too small an opening so the boiling went really slow. Next time I will use a wide-mouth erlenmeyer or just a glass beaker that can take some heating. And the baths are perfect again- and the images speck-free!

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(oh for the paranoia ones…I removed the cables in the background during the boiling 🙂 )