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…
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.
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 🙂
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 🙂
Last night I watched the documentary “The Woodmans” about, pretty much, the life of Francesca Woodman, as seen through her diary and her parents eyes. Having stumbled across her work some 2 years ago her images struck me immediately. It was then when I learned about her rather tragic story, a life that ended way too soon.
She was born in Denver on the 3rd of April 1958 in a rather artistic family. Her mother was a potter and her father a painter. She took up photography from the age of 13, working a lot in square, black-and-white and made a lot of photos of herself. Her work is absolutely fabulously in a disturbing matter, which is what attracted me to it. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design in Provence and during that time also studied one year in Rome at the Palazzo Cenci. Back in the States she finished her study and moved to New York where, on the 19th of January 1981, she would throw herself off a roof top from a building next to her apartment. She died at the age of 23.
Her photos have become very famous through books and exhibitions. And now there’s a documentary about her life and that, partially, of her parents and brother. Here’s a trailer of it, you can download the entire film via this link.
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 😉
Yesterday I had someone coming over for a wet plate collodion demo and that forced me to test my two batches of Collodion, old and new, with the lighting setup from FalconEyes I bought not too long ago. With my old collodion (approx. 1 year old) I couldn’t get an image to form on the plate with 1 minute of exposure. I bought the lights to shorten my exposure time. With the new batch I had an image within 30 seconds. Still have to try it with human skin to see if it’s even shorter (I used a glass head this time) but didn’t have the time yesterday.
The girl came over and I used her for some plates which I made outside because the weather was terrific. With the new batch I had a lot of stripes and stains. When trying the old batch the stains were gone but had trouble pinpointing the exposure as it’s a lot less light sensitive than the new one. The stripes could be caused because the batch came fresh out of the fridge and hadn’t had much time to reach room temperature. I’ll have to look into that because I will need it to work soon (demo SASK St. Niklaas). You can see the stripes in the 4×10″ plate but I like it anyway. Since it’s my first 4×10″ I’m going to keep it!
I look forward to the series I’ll start making of Maastricht soon on this size. It’s a fun size to work with and to look at. These series will moreover be awesome in 10 to 20 years from now as Maastricht is changing so rapidly.
Have a great day y’all!
P.s. my “new” camera works like a charm 🙂
May is filled with good things and here’s the thing I’m currently working on: a Wet Plate Collodion exhibition at the Timmerfabriek Maastricht during the KunstTour / Art Tour 2010 starting at the 22nd til the 24th of May.
On top of that I will be giving my first demonstration in public of the wet plate process on Sunday the 23th starting at 1 o’clock. I’m thrilled to be able to do so (keep fingers crossed for the weather 😉 ) and looking forward to it immensely! I hope to see you there!!
It has arrived!! I’m very happy with it, it looks fantastic, is built very sturdy and way in time for the Wet Plate demo I’m planning for the Kunsttour in May. I figured it to be nice to have the KCN out of the way from people 😉 Anyway, not much to see, on to some photos:
Needless to say; I’m very happy!!
Bart took some better shots of my darkroom this time so I can show you better how it’s done inside. And some more bike shots, it still is fun!!
Well, that was another trip. Looking forward to the next, although first I have to receive my new collodion as I just ran out of my stock.
I just have to show it off 😉 I’ve worked pretty long on the design and am very proud with the result. For the design I was inspired by wet plates as you will probably notice. Luckily I could find a person willing to turn the design into a proper functioning web page since I know nothing about website building. I might pick up a coarse on it but photography is already taking up so much time I’m not sure it would be a wise decision, at least not for now. Here’s the link to my new site:
Here’s a sneak preview:
If you have any comments or remarks on the working and functionality of the site please let me know! Publications is not working perfectly for everyone so far but it will be fixed soon.
So, here they are!
I hope you like them! The plates look nicer qua contrast and detail in real but anyway 😉
Oh and the lens used: Steinheil 230mm. I love it for landscapes; The angle is pretty wide!