Haha so…Tuesday night I though it would be cool to ask the day off on Wednesday. Of course a bit late for such a decision but I luckily I was able to get the afternoon off. At first the intention was to make some lith prints trying out the new Slavich Unibrom paper I ordered a while back as the first prints of David Kirby posted on the lith group on Facebook looked really funky. I then saw the weather and thought it would be more awesome to try my new Linhof! I learned many things 😉
Again, I had only a limited amount of time. During work I managed to get out and find a new LED light (I used up the battery of the one I used Sunday and because this all happened so unprepared forgot to charge it). I got home at around 1:30 PM, ate something (no, I don’t live off ether vapours), fixed my new darkroom light, packed everything and finally was able to leave at around something like 2:30. I planned to photograph the bridge in Kanne, Belgium. I drove there and it looked pretty boring. I drove back to another bridge, the one I had planned to visit in the first place and a little closer to home, also in Belgium. I didn’t find a parking spot immediately so I drove on until I found one and ended up photographing a beautiful lane towards the bridge (though the latter remaining invisible) and another nice land road.
I set up camp using a my wooden darkbox again instead of the tent. It’s been a while since last time I used that. The LED torch, my new form of DR light which works really nicely as you can turn it off and on, saving heaps on power, hung from a nail hammered into the dark box and worked really nicely. I covered the torch with red foil which seems to do its thing. I started using my new silver box for the silver nitrate, the smaller box for max 5×7″ plates. Really nice this small!
I used my Linhof for the first time and thus also the new In Camera Industries back. In handling this works really well. Easy to open and close etc. Because it’s so small easy to get the plate in and out. The only thing I might not like but not yet sure is that the plate does not rest on silver wires in the corners but all round the plate on a ridge. This means you will have a border on every image. Now, I plan to make negatives and print them using an enlarger. The holder of that will crop the borders of the image so probably not much will show up on the final result but have to discover that later on. On top of that, such a ridge is supposed to be more prone to contamination opposed to resting the plate on silver wires (not metal, not copper, but silver wires). We’ll see..
One thing I lacked before using this camera is looking how this thing actually works. I could be blond (I used to be when I was really little, still noticeable in my habits) but I couldn’t find the focusing knob. I mean, I know how to focus it when I place the lens bit on the retractable area but the extension was already too long for making landscapes. I just couldn’t find it. Never worked with such a model, quite obviously.
The other thing SERIOUSLY lacking was the fixture of the lens to the lens board. As we did not have any fitting screws for the time being we decided ducktape would hold the lens to the lens board. Yeah right! When removing the lens cap, and especially putting it back on I kind of pushed the lens into the camera haha! It kept stucking to the board but with lots of movement possible. Kind of a sucky Lensbaby version thing going on 😉
The dark box as you can see on the image stands on the table I normally use in my tent. Only for this it’s just too low to work in a nice manner. I really really have to fix that. The box had light leaks, badly. I really have to fix those too. I accidentally knocked the silver bath a couple of times while the plate was in there, not too good either I guess. I had to really find my workflow with all the new stuff and being clumsy and all it just didn’t really seem to work this time. But I had fun, and my brother had too who came along to join me on my wonderful though swift day out in the field again.
Yes, it looks rather idiotic, I know…
All in all, a lot of things to improve on this new working style but it was a fun experience and sniffing ether out in the field is always fun, good plates or not! I think the plates that you’re about to see are officially my must sucky plates, in a long time. I will varnish them though, for laughs-sake 😉
They are both 4×5″ Clear Glass Ambrotypes
Needless to say I’m looking forward to the next journey with the Linhof, only with A LOT of things adjusted! I hope you enjoyed this post about my clumsiness and failure. It’s all about the journey they say anyway, right 😉
A couple of months ago Marieke contacted me regarding something collodion. She was one of the attendees on a collodion workshop I gave at the IKA in Mechelen (BE). She is working on her graduation project and wanted to make some plates for this. So she asked me if she could join me on one of my field trips. For me this meant an opportunity to actually plan a field trip (today I realised it was actually 2 YEARS ago!). We agreed on a price, time and place and yesterday came the day we went to visit a small village called Doel in Belgium.
Doel is near Antwerp, a small village near its harbour. In the sixties the Big Harbour of Antwerp wanted to expand and found Doel to be what it wanted. The people were bought out in order for them to leave but not all of them did. The population dropped from a 1300 inhabitants to 188 in 2010 and around 10 nowadays (not sure about that last number but someone told me yesterday that there where only 3 houses left that had people living in them). From what I’ve heard Antwerp has dropped the plan (for now) as it’s too expensive to continue. Yeah…
So, now we have a village that is pretty much abandoned. But not for real! I was surprised of its vividness! There are two cafes, one in an old windmill which is nothing but dead. Whole families come there on their day off to enjoy the weather, the view (on the nuclear power plant ;-)) and of course lots of photographers. We had an awesome day!
We had one darkroom and one camera so the working speed was pretty low. Marieke shot positives on black glass, I was looking to shoot some clear glass. The tricky part for her was to find her way back to working with collodion after having done only one workshop more than a year ago. I wasn’t able to go with her in the darkroom tent to guide her there so it was rather tough to create proper images seeing the conditions we worked in. We had a lot of fun though! I managed to make three clear glass ambrotypes but hope to get back there soon to try some more and better myself. It’s a wonderful location, heck, even the ride through the harbour fields is extremely fascinating, at times it looks like a moon scenery (not that I’ve ever been there ;-))!
The sweet darkroom setup in an even sweeter surrounding. Luckily I was able to park the car real close after we chose our location. Note to self: buy something on wheels to lug your stuff around! We first walked the perimeters to see where we would set up everything and I made some photos with the M6 and a couple impressions with the iPhone which you can see here (the only colour photos in this post).
The photo below is the courtesy of Marieke Bakkes and is of me focusing the camera for my shot down the streets of Doel.
The light was really FULL of UV so my exposure times were around 3 seconds on f/16, including the triple time overexposure for my clear glass images. There is still some work for me to be looking at because the images are far from perfect. I see stripes / striations; could be a pouring issue, or too little rocking of the plate, or too little alcohol in the collodion to make it flow properly over the plate due to the hot temperature. I have small black dots on the plate, not sure what that is? Dust contamination but from what? I have to practice on the pouring (4×5″ while holding the plate in the corner is really finicky) so I’m looking to use a suction cup next time. I hope to get back there soon, on my own though, to be able to work on my skills and plates more.
This image is of my mum and dog watching over my camera standing on the dike while we are pouring the last plate you’ll be seeing in a bit.
4×5″ Clear Glass Ambrotypes
Exposure +- 3 to 4 seconds f/16
Scanned using the Epson V700, not yet printed.
I hope to print them soon in lith to see how far I can stretch these images. But I’m not 100% satisfied with these so hope to get back there soon, hopefully with my Linhof so I can save on lugging heaviness around.
From what I’ve just read in a piece from the Volkskrant (Dutch newspaper, thanks Mr. Neighbour) the Belgian government agreed past Tuesday with the harbour expanding and Doel being torn down. This means I will have to go back at least this very season. There are worst things in life, me thinks 😉
I guess that was it for now…thank you Marieke, I hope you had a great day, I sure did, and thank you mom, dad and brothels for helping me looking after my stuff -x-
Yesterday the weather had finally decided to give us a break thus some great photographic moments we just had to seize! My dad and I visited La gare de Montzen in 2005 and we decided to head back yesterday to see what has changed and of course to photograph it again. In 2005 I took my digital SLR and, because I was getting back in touch with analog, also my Nikon F100. This time I went collodion all the way!
The place had been severely abused since last time and gave me the creeps even more (which is great!). We were able to get the car pretty close to one of the sort of entrances and didn’t have to drag our ass off getting all the stuff inside. Once setup finding objects and sceneries was not that hard. But time flew by like mad and I ended up with 4 great bga’s of 4×10″ and one 4×5″ glass negative. The latter I’d like to print in my darkroom for the upcoming exhibition. Have not yet found a proper process to print it with so I’ll probably stick with lith for now to see where that’ll get me. On to the photos!
The plates were all fixed using KCN 2%. Exposure time varied between 3 to 13 seconds up in the end.
Anyway, hope the weather will keep on being the good guy and hopefully we’ll soon travel to another abandoned little gem!