Anyway…long time no see 🙂 I started with the chemistry last week, making fresh fix, developer, collodion and checking the silver bath, which looked and tested really well! It had a proper cleaning, with boiling-down half way and all, before I packed it up for moving, but still, quite the surprise. Last Monday, my regular day off, I decided to continue but it was a busy day with a meeting scheduled and had some prepping to do for that so didn’t get much work done in the darkroom. Feeling a bit anxious about that I thought I would give it a shot asking the day off on Tuesday, which I was able to do….so Tuesday was Theday.
Erik grabbed the change to film everything but we will redo this as I was too much occupied with looking for all my stuff, trying to find back that routine in a new place. I spent about half the time looking for things 🙂 I was too excited to give the plates the proper cleaning they should have had and it clearly shows, as expected. But, it works! The first pour was indescribable; don’t want to sound like a sentimental old fart (the smelly one), but wow, it felt great! The smile on my face….loved it!
Well, what else can I say? There’s some work to do to get it all ‘perfect’ again, better cleaning, more ether to the collodion as it was relatively cold in the darkroom and it didn’t flow nicely, creating a striped pattern. The smallest first test plate (see plate above) was so scratched and polluted that the layer of collodion curled off while drying, making it look pretty fascinating. Also, I want to re-read Osterman’s manual again, just because it has been awhile and it’s never a bad thing. And of course, making a batch of varnish and do the final very-good-smelling step 🙂
The following images are the ones I like best. The last one is an image Erik made of me. He composed the images, lighting and everything and I did the chemistry part. The digital overview images are mostly Erik’s.
Hope to see you soon again!
Woehoew, last Friday was my Magic Friday! I left for Boerdonk early in the morning to arrive there at around 10 for the start of the dry plate collodion workshop given by Jeroen de Wijs together with Jetfire Jefferson. Three days of photographic history amazement and happiness. It all went by like it was nothing and it’s all sinking in now. It was a great couple of days, I learned a lot, had fun, drank lovely wine, enjoyed lovely food (thank you Ina & Wim!), saw a classical concert and even enjoyed a little bit of hotty sunshine. This summer will be dry plate time 🙂
P.s. Apologies for some unsharp images. I tried my best to hold still but I got all excited haha! This time the images are taken with a proper camera, not the iPhone, ha 🙂
Day 1: Preparing the plates
Some things are quite the same as with wet plate, some things are totally different. Cleaning the plates is where it starts, same story but I realise now more than ever that I can do a better job at that next time making plates 🙂
After the cleaning part it’s time to steam the plate before coating it with a layer of albumen. This happens by heating water in a beaker and hoovering the plate above it (make sure the suction cup works!) so to get an even layer.
Then it’s time to sub the plate with albumen (=1 egg white to 1 liter of distilled water). You do this by pouring the albumen over the plate as you would with collodion. This layer keeps the collodion layer stick to it when you arrive at the developing stage. The main compound of the developer is pyro and it makes the collodion layer shrink. With black glass ambrotypes you do not need to sub the plates as the iron sulphate based developer doesn’t have that specific characteristic. After pouring wipe the back of the plate carefully so no albumen residue is left; this will pollute the silver bath. After that the plates are left to dry.
As soon as the plates dried it’s time for the silver nitrate to come in. Standard bath you use with wet plate so that’s convenient. Filter and ready to use (I took this image as I found it a real handy way of filtering the bath into the box).
The dry plate process we did was the Tannic Acid Preserved Collodion Negative variant. Tannic Acid is the compound that keeps the pores of the collodion open so that when the plate gets developed later on the developer can reach the sensitive layer and actually develop the plate. With wet plate you have to develop etc. before the collodion dries out because when it does it closes its pores so that developer can’t penetrate the layer and no development is possible. Tannic Acid keeps that process from happening and enables the plate to dry and develop later on.
When the subbed plates have dried (depending on humidity and temperature this takes about an hour) you can pour the collodion on the plate. This is as with wet plate though now you use a negative collodion. After that the plate goes into the silver bath. The duration of the time in the silver bath is determined on inspection. When the silver nitrate leaves no streaky residue on the plate it’s good to come out. This can be within 2 minutes or after 5, depending on the age of the silver bath (the older the longer). After the sensitising the plate gets rinsed (in safelight of course). Then follows the tannin bath for the plate to go through. And then the plate is left to dry again, in the dark.
Day 2: Exposing and developing the plate
Wahhh the exciting time begins! Prepping the plate is not difficult, you just have to follow procedure, carefully that is with attention, and it should be fine. Exposing and developing is where the challenge begins! We head out to an abandoned house which looked really nice. We sat up the cameras, I used a 5×7″ camera from Jeroen. He made sure some street was in the shot, as well as greenery, the house and air. Proper ingredients to help determine developing.
Jeroen measured the light with a Minolta Autometer IV set at 100 asa and measured an EV of 13. According to his calibrations this should come at an exposure time of 8 minutes at f11. We made one plate like that, one at 4 minutes and one at 16 minutes. A bit boring to shoot three plates of exactly the same thing but all the more interesting and learnfull when developing the plates. After we got back we made the developer, actually 3 variants. One standard, one in case of overexposure and one in case of underexposure.
After the baths were ready I took the plate out of the back and placed it in a mixture of alcohol and distilled water. This bath is meant to open up the pores of the collodion / get the tannin out (alcohol is a solvent) so that the developer can get easier access. After that the plate gets rinsed a little until the alcohol is off it and then it’s ready for developing. We started with the standard developer and with each developer bit we used we added a little silver nitrate solution to it (the quantity depends on how much and how fast you want density to build and at what point). At around 5 minutes I checked the plate to see how far the image had developed. If nothing is there you move to the underexposure bath, if you can see a lot you move to the overexposure bath, and then whatever you feel like comes in between.
That’s where the fun tweaking and carefully observing part comes into play. I really liked doing this. It’s a matter of getting a hang of the developer as with the way you apply it on the plate can either speed up the developing or tame it a little. It’s good fun! I can’t explain how it all went down in detail, it’s far too complicated to write it down in just a few words. When the plate has gained the density and development you’re after it goes into a rinsing bath for 5 minutes.
After this exciting part has taken place the plate is being fixed in hypo and then being rinsed again for at least 20 minutes. Drying is the last thing it has to do before varnishing. Varnishing works the same as with wet plate so nothing new there. I did learn a better way of keeping the drip lines to a minimum so that’s good! Also, warming the varnish using a coffee warmer is also a very smart idea 🙂
And when that is done, the negative is done! Ready for drooling all over 🙂 They invented a light tray for that. Also to properly judge the negative of course. With my 3 exposures you can see the overexposured negative to gain a reddish colour. The middle one at 8 minutes definitely printed the best the next day. The stereo negatives made by Mr. Jefferson looked wonderful too. The highlights look a little bit too washed out than they really are on these digital next two images btw.
Day 3: Salt Printing
Yihaaa, another cool day! Or hot, better said cause Spring sure found her way to our Dutchie-land. The negatives had properly dried and were also waiting to become positive. We started with preparing the gelatine. Mixing it in water while heating it so it will dissolve properly. Once it did the salt (Ammonium Chloride) is added to the mix.
When it’s cooled a little it’s ready to be coated onto the paper. As far as coating techniques go, I won’t go into that now extensively. The method I discovered that day and preferred is applying the solution with a cotton pad to the paper.
The paper is then dried with a hairdryer. Papers prepared like this will keep for years. When it’s dry it’s ready to be coated with a solution of silver nitrate (12% for more contrast, 15% for less). When doing this of course safe lights have to be used. After that the sheet is dried again and ready for exposure. This is best done with a contact printing frame. It makes sure the negative is firmly pressed to the paper, enables checking how the exposure is going etc. The weather was so good we enjoyed a nice cup of tea while exposing it in the sun/shade.
I didn’t count the time, why would I anyway, and when it was thought to be fine we went to the darkroom again to rinse and fix it, again in hypo. You can then choose to hypo clear and gold tone and rinse again, or use traditional toners before fixing. More on that later when I start using it more extensively. When drying the paper with heat it dries up more choclate-brownish than the images shown above.
When the print got dried it received a waxing. This gives the image a lovely sheen (saw some pretty ones by Julia Margaret Cameron at the Tefaf last year) and acts as a preservative. The wax is a mixture of bee wax and spike oil. The ratio depends on preference, for a more glossy finish use more spike oil. Make sure you attach the print firmly to an even surface like a table. Apply the mixture in strokes and then rub it in circular movements over the print. It smells wonderful and is nice way to end a print I must say. Much much better than selenium toner 😉
And that was kind of it… all that’s left is to digitise the print, which is quite hard really. I had to scan it as I had to bring back the camera to work and that just doesn’t do the image any justice. But…here it is; the result of 3 days hard work!
Another smallish but handy thing I’ve learned is making four flaps yourself. This can be done really easily (shown on the photo is the really fast way) and it makes sure you have a perfect fit for your plate. I bought prepped ones but you can only get them in 4×5″ and 8×10″. Not for 18×24 or 4×10″ for example. I never thought of making them myself but will from now on!
In short: I have learned a lot of practical things that you simply can’t learn from a book. I plan on using this process for making negatives of landscapes. Time and effort wise there’s no shorter choice but dry plate out in the field will definitely be a lot more comfortable and will get you to places where a mobile darkroom would be kind of an impossibility. After having seen this process I definitely want to grow bigger, 30×40 cm’s is what I have in mind, so that when contact printing them it will be of a nicer size than smaller (at least to me). I’ll first learn this process on the smaller sizes, get accustomed to it and its perks, and then grow. With salt printing there’s is some research to do on paper choice. I have some here from the Van Dyke story so will continue with that. All in all; woeh, quite wonderful!
A couple of days ago I read about this process on Facebook via a post of Mark Osterman. Seeing how fairly easy it sounds and not many extra chemistry needed besides what I already have lingering around it sounds like a nice thing to give a try. I know I have lots of things on my list already but it can never harm adding just one more..right? 😉
The Collodion Chloride process is a printing process (so it has nothing to do with the wet plate collodion stuff). According to Mark Osterman the process was introduced by G. Wharton Simpson in the 1860s. As I understand it it was the most archival silver based photographic paper ever manufactured. Eventually these papers were called Aristotypes and have been made until around 1930s (which is not that long ago).
A quote from the aforementioned piece (see link above) about this process:
“This isn’t wet collodion — collodion chloride is an emulsion process. There
isn’t any silver bath. Both the silver and chloride are mixed together and
the emulsion can be kept for years in a well sealed black bottle. When you
need to make a print, you just pour it onto the paper and let it dry in the
dark. It’s contact printed with the negative just like salt or albumen
paper. Actually, if you were disappointed when Centennial Gelatin Chloride
Printing Out Paper was discontinued a few years ago, collodion paper prints,
tones and looks the same….only it doesn’t ever fade!”
That surely sounds good! The chemistry is fairly simple and besides the Strontium Chloride I have everything I would need for this in my possession. Check out this link for more on the formulas and chemistry needed.
Anyway, hopefully I’ll be making some wet plate collodion plates this weekend if my throat doesn’t decide to get more soar than it already is 😦 And this would be great for future-thingies! Thought I’d share and keep this for reference-sake.
Have a bon weekend and marvellous Easter (whatever) 🙂
2013 is already lurking around the corner while 2012 slowly comes to an end. 2012 was a great year but I’m really looking forward to 2013. This will be the year of my own photography. No workshops (by me, I wish to follow at least one myself), not as many days off to fix work for others, just doing my own stuff. I’ve had a lot of people asking me the past two years if they could come to my place or on location to watch me do my collodion ‘tricks’. Some I managed to squeeze into my schedule, others I have recently declined.
I think I made collodion imagery for maybe 2 times this past year that were about my personal work, in studio, not even outside. When I have to invite people over to watch the way I work it’s pretty much keeping me from concentrating on my stuff and making me feel obliged to focus more on the person in question instead of making plates. It took me quite some time but now I realise it’s just not working that way, especially seeing the little amount of time I have for my personal work. It might (have) come across as being arrogant, so be it. Making everyone happy is impossible and it’s certainly not the reason why I got into photography. Of course, asking questions via email, my blog of FB is never a problem but that way I can answer them whenever it suits me 😉
I was also debating which way I’d go with all the processes I’m interested in doing. I want to do so much it’s simply impossible mastering the crafts when working on a million different things. The chat I had yesterday with a friend certainly clarified a couple of things. The most important decision I’ve made is this one:
I want to make 4×5″ collodion negatives, but “standard” ones that I can enlarge with my Omega D2 to print them via the lith process. With standard ones I mean developed in an, albeit adjusted, iron II sulphate developer but no intensification or redeveloping needed with pyro for example. This has a couple of advantages:
- I can print them with the Omega as already mentioned (I love lith for landscapes)
- My collodion workflow on location will be a lot more compact (4×5 camera, smaller tripod etc)
- It will weigh a LOT less. It’ll certainly shave off around 15-20 kilos
- I can scan the negatives with my Epson V700 and turn them into (bigger) digital negatives suitable for whichever contact printing process I wish to dive into
- Uhm, I have to buy a new camera 😉
The last one remains a lot of fun haha! I always wanted to get a small compact lightweight 4×5″ camera and now I have found the perfect excuse to get one! I’m looking for a small field camera such as a Chamonix, Shen Hao or Wista model (let me know if you have one for sale!). The photos I’m about to post are pure camera-**rn so mind your eyes 😉
As you can see this is a terrible decision to make! Anyway, not sure if this will happen this year, the price has to be right for my wallet but I’m looking forward. At least before spring I would like to have this realised so I can take advantage of all there is to the collodion season. Although I’ll be trying some snowy collodion stuff this winter too, but then just with my big one.
As far as printing processes are concerned lith printing will stick by me. I absolutely love this for landscapes. You can take an image to a billion different levels and I love that. I will continue my digital negative journey to work through my collection of 35mm and 120 film. I will either lith them (landscapes) or make them into digital negatives and work on the Van Dyke process more (portraits). I absolutely wish to get that to a higher level which should be coming together in 2013.
I also saw a waxed salt print yesterday in person which looked beyond words. I loved the look and feel of it. Definitely worth looking into but that’s not priority Numero Uno. I have to much of those already 😉 Anyway, lots of plans which hopefully become more reality next year than this past one. Oh, and on top of that working on some conceptual stuff so I can put my skills to good use instead of getting lost into the technique too much.
Have a wonderful couple of weeks this year and may your next year be as challenging as mine seems to me!
Last Friday we left for Bièvres. Geer-Jan, Paula and Jeroen were already at the hotel in Igny so we would meet later that day to have some dinner together. The latter actually being the main reason we went to Bièvres 😉
The drive went fine, we arrived at our hotel, unpacked some stuff and took off for Bièvres to look around but mostly to grab a glass of wine and enjoy the weather.
After that we went back to the hotel, caught up with our friends and searched via the Michelin app on the iPhone which restaurant we would pick for the evening. St. Pierre in Longjumeau it would be. Since we all loved duck, on a plate, the choice was not hard and we had a great evening. After that we got “home” and prepared ourselves for Saturday, the first day of the fair, by going to bed fairly early.
We got up early, mostly because the bed was crap, so left early for the fair. Of course, a good day starts with a good cup-a-joe!
Then the time came to check out the fair. I wasn’t really looking for anything special. If I’d find a pretty looking daguerreotype for not too much money I would’ve bought it (as you can tell from this I didn’t). I did buy a Polaroid SX-70. I already have a 600 camera but it sucks. It uses its flash all the time so I upgraded. Now just have to get some film to see if it really works…
Not looking for any lenses or cameras or whatever, I have what I want maybe for just a bigger wide angle but that seems not the place to look for one. Quite a bit of lenses were bought up by a small group of people so you’ll probably soon see them somewhere on the net for double or triple the price they were on the fair. And on the fair the prices genuinely were already through the roof. Hasselblads 500CM with an old silver 100mm for €1300,- just to give you an exorbitant example. Oh well…lucikly I didn’t feel like spending lots a money except on food so on to the good part 😉
Oh..I said on to the good stuff…right… 😉
And then…we left for the restaurant, the same we went last year as it was THAT good. Luckily Paula came along this time and we had the night of our, well, weekend!
The owner recognized us from last year so we were headed off to a great night! We chose from the “Menu Tradition” just like last year which also seemed quite like last year:
Petites Pièces de Canard (cou farci, magret seché, friton et grattons)*
Velouté Froid aux Asperges, Raviolis au Chèvre Frais
Terrine de Tomates au Basilic, Tartine au Beurre d’Anchois
Gigot de Canard mijoté aux Bolets et aux Girolles*
Confit de Canard aux deux Pommes
Magret de Canard aux Groseilles
Cassoulet aux Soissons Géants
Poisson suivant le Marché
Craquant Glacé Banane et Chocolat, Nougatine aux Amandes
Soupe de Melon, Fruits Rafraîchis, Siphon Cassis
Sorbets, Turbinés au moment*
Pruneaux à l’Armagnac
The dished with the little star behind them is what I ate. This year I did feel like duck 😉
Again, the cheese in between the main and desert was simply fantastic! The magnificent Creme de Roquefort she had last year she didn’t have this time but if we were to come again she said we should call in advance to “order” it. Nice!
Again, all things came to an end and in the middle of a rising thunderstorm we headed back to the hotel. We installed ourselves downstairs with some wine and ended the night with a(nother) drink and a laugh.
Yes, this day started a little slower than the others but it started alright. Again with the crappy breakfast at the hotel but Jeroen was kind enough to get up early to score some lovely chocolate goodies from the local bakery. Unfortunately Jeroen headed back home shortly after that because he had to go to work again Monday morning. Geert-Jan and Paula would leave later that day but first we went to the fair again. Today the collodion booth would be set up by Vincent, Basile and Fabrice.
Fabrice was on one end of the three booths, Vincent on the other and in the middle there was Jacques Cousin with some of his work (?). Across the booth the wonderful pieces of Matthias Olmeta were displayed.
At around 4:30 we got tired and headed back to the hotel. We took a little nap after having made reservations at a Moroccan restaurant. This was really nice food! Different than the kitchens we are used to and that makes eating all the more fun. Thank god for our multi-cultural society: if all we had to eat was Dutch food we’d be utterly doomed!
We still had a bottle of wine left at the hotel so enjoyed us a quite lonely evening. Well quite..that was until the weather changed…
Truly awesome, I love thunder and lightning! It was like a light bulb in heaven had gone bad and was constantly flickering, remarkable and a beautiful end to a wonderful weekend.
I had actually in mind visiting Paris on Monday as there was an exhibition at the MEP I would’ve loved to see but it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays..darn..Collodion plates of Mark and Scully Osterman and Joni Sternbach were there as well as a large panoramic daguerreotype which is quite rare. Unfortunately that little plan didn’t happen we so we headed back home today. You can’t have it all 😉
Last monday “de Limburger” called me after they received a press piece on the exhibition at the Bastaboot during the Kunsttour. They saw me mentioned exhibiting photos made with a process dating back from 1851 and got interested. The lady on the phone asked me if we could meet for an interview. I said..sure!
So, Wednesday we did. I talked about the process and my thoughts behind it and set everything up to actually show it to her as that would tell more than me just explaining everything. So she modelled for me and ended up that morning with a beautiful photo of hers.
And today the interview got published in the news paper! I’m very proud! There are a couple of things missing and incorrectly stated in the interview which I would like to rectify here. First of all; it’s not printed in Silver Sulphate and lavender. Silver Nitrate is used to sensitize the plate and the lavender is only used in the varnish. Secondly; the project of Alexander Simays has nothing to do with my fight against superficiality. It’s just a side step; you have to do something light sometimes.. Thirdly; the place where I exhibit during the Kunsttour is not mentioned. This is at the Bastaboot as can be seen in the post below. Anyway, that was it and I’m very happy with the interview. Now I am a BM-er 😉
To be able to read the article better you can download it here: InterviewLimburger-1
Have a good read!
So, finally I came around to scanning my photo made on World Wet Plate Day last May the 1st. Considering all things that went wrong that day (working on assignment, lost screw of tripod which made it rather unstable so lots of unsharp stuff, wet plate slide didn’t slide properly, screwed up developing as it was too dark in my tent, forgot to put on lens cap before removing slide and so on and so on..) I’m quite pleased with the result.
If you’d like to see all entries for Wet Plate Day check out this site.
So, today I picked up the framed plate from the frame maker…wow…it is really beautiful!!! I’m not going to say much about it, just post some photos where I hope you can see what happened and how marvelous it looks! Forgive me, again I was too lazy to use a pola-filter..
Let me know what you think of it but I hope you’ll like it!
Tomorrow I’ll hopefully finish the Barth-presentation and will post that as well. Looking forward to see the two presentations next to each other but this one rocks already for sure!
So, I did manage to find some time to and make the photos and publish them on here. This presentation is totally different than anything I’ve thought of before, only that my exam work has been finished this way too though with a different backing color.
I had a company cut 4 plates of black plexi-glass (perspex?) size 28 x 34 cm (the plates are 18 x 24 cm). I used u-shaped aluminum strips to attach the glass plate to the plexi-glass plate and used those same strips again on the back to attach it the wall. I placed the glass plates exactly in the middle of the perspex plate. Here are some images (don’t pay attention to the filth; didn’t have space to clean the plates today):
I actually like this quite a lot AND it was not that expensive either 😉 Anyway, off to start packing for France!!
Update 8 June 2010:
As requested a photo of the front, how the viewer will see them:
Side note: the photo has been taken outside with the plate flat on the ground. The kind of stains you see are the reflections of clouds in the plate etc. I was too lazy to use a pola-filter so forgive me 😉
So, considering recent events I decided to put money where my mouth is and went to a professional frame maker. What I had in mind was the following: The glass plate mounted with double-adhesive tape unto a backing board which is of the same material and color as the mat used on top. The mat used will be 1 centimeter bigger on all sides along the plate and the color is antique white or off-white. The outer size of the frame will be 40×50 cm. The frame I’d like to have in black and made of wood. On top of that I would like the plate to be deeper than the glass plate covering the image to create a sort of depth.
The person at the framing shop came up with a different idea namely: also a deeper frame so that you create a distance between the image and the glass plate protecting the work but working with a black mat. He felt the white mat would draw the attention away from the photo. He could be right about that. I decided it to be best if he chose the matching frame and mats for my photo as he has a better and different view on it than I have. It should be ready by the end of the week and I’m looking forward!!
Secondly I bought a wooden 40×50 frame from Barth and have off-white mats being made by the frame shop so I can make what I had in mind when I started this journey a couple of days ago. The possibilities are endless and this way I get to see 2 options which might help me further.
For the presentation of my exhibition with Vleugels & Teugels opening this Friday I created a different presentation as I was seriously lacking time. It looks good though and if I get the chance I’ll post some photos tomorrow….Bièvres is getting closer, also Friday, and I’m running out of time 😉