I have finally planned a dry plate collodion workshop with Jeroen de Wijs, THE man if you really want to learn the collodion process (wet or dry) inside out. It’s a two-man-3-day-workshop which will take place the 2nd weekend of March. I am soooo looking forward! This means I can take plates with me when traveling by plane, or to places where a wet mobile darkroom on the spot isn’t too handy. And…learning how to make proper negatives AND learning how to print them using the Salt Printing process. At the TEFAF I’ve seen some awesome waxed salt prints from a/o Margaret Cameron.
Ohhh negatives ready for contact printing…the only debatable thing is the purchase of a 4×5″ Linhof for making negatives…4×5″ is really small for contact printing…I bought it so I could enlarge them but I also want to do contact printing processes…ahhh dilemma haha! Maybe, maybe when I get a hang of the process I’ll jump to a camera that makes 30×40 cm plates, imagine A3 negatives on glass…oeff…what’s that for p**n huh 😉
Anyway, first moving the entire darkroom which is a challenge on its own. I almost cleared out the DR by now, did a lot of work today. What’s not in boxes (and will not fit) are the big babies such as the wet table, cameras and enlargers. Can’t wait to build it up again, it’s gonna be fun redesigning!
So…just thought I’d share 🙂 :happybellydance:
A couple of days ago I finally registered for the Calotype workshop given at the Pieter Brueghel Center in Veghel by Martin Becka on April 20th-21st. I’m so looking forward!
A little info about the process as found on the University of Glasgow website (click the link for more extended information):
“The calotype negative process was sometimes called the Talbotype, after its inventor. It was not Talbot’s first photographic process (introduced in 1839), but it is the one for which he became most known. Henry Talbot devised the calotype in the autumn of 1840, perfected it by the time of its public introduction in mid-1841, and made it the subject of a patent (the patent did not extend to Scotland).
Shown here is a calotype negative (HA0767).
The base of a calotype negative, rather than the glass or film to which we have become accustomed, was high quality writing paper. The sheet of paper was carefully selected to have a smooth and uniform texture and, wherever possible, to avoid the watermark. The first stage, conducted in candlelight, was to prepare what Talbot called his iodized paper. The paper was washed over with a solution of silver nitrate and dried by gentle heat. When nearly dry, it was soaked in a solution of potassium iodide for two or three minutes, rinsed and again dried. As long as this iodized paper was stored carefully, it could be kept for some time, so it was generally prepared in batches ahead of time.
Immediately before taking a photograph, a fresh solution of gallo-nitrate of silver was mixed up. This was made from equal quantities of a solution of silver nitrate and one of gallic acid; the solution was unstable and had to be used right away. Under weak candlelight, a sheet of iodized paper was coated with this solution, left to sit for about thirty seconds and then dipped in water. It was then partially dried in the dark, often using blotting paper. The calotype paper could be employed completely dry, but was more sensitive when moist, and in any case had to be exposed in the camera within a few hours of preparation (Talbot found that he could sometimes put it away for future use but its keeping qualities were never predictable).
Under near-total darkness, the sensitive calotype paper was loaded in the camera. It was exposed to the scene, sometimes for as little as ten seconds, usually for a time closer to a minute, and sometimes for tens of minutes. If one were to examine the sheet of paper after withdrawing it from the camera, no image would be seen (just as no image is visible on modern film when it is first removed from the camera). An invisible latent image was formed by the action of light. A fresh solution of gallo-nitrate of silver was brought into play. Washed over the sheet of paper in a darkened room, it developed a visible image, usually within a few seconds. When the operator judged that the development had proceeded far enough, the paper was then washed over with a fixing liquid. This was sometimes a solution of potassium bromide and sometimes a solution of hypo (similar to modern fixers). Washing and drying completed the process.” (Source: Glasgow University)
Not sure if I want to work with this process myself, I hope to find that out through the workshop, but I will have come in touch with the three oldest and most popular processes (there were more processes of course in between) in the history of photography; daguerreotypes, calotypes and wet plate collodion.
Also included in this workshop if there’s enough time is the making of salt prints. Never done those before so would be fantastic to learn as well!
Check out the website of Pieter Brueghel to learn more about this workshop 😉
So…Saturday the 26th finally came! What a great experience, going back in time even further. I did not sign up for this workshop with the intention of making my own daguerreotypes but merely to enjoy some more history and to really grasp what this process is all about. You can read all you want but actually seeing it makes it a whole different ball game. Marinus Ortelee and Charlotte Edam did a fantastic job sharing this process and sharing their unbridled enthusiasm!
I’ll post the process as we went through it below. I hope I remember everything correctly. If someone notices any flaws or whatever please contact me so I can adjust it. I don’t want no misinformation on here! Oh, and beware…LOTS of photos!
P.s. For a short explanation of the process click here.
Luckily for us Marinus and Charlotte already prepared the plates we were gonna use so this was merely to let us feel what an incredible job it is to polish these plates for so many hours on end. Getting them spotless is an absolute must to be able to make good plates. I was already looking for shortcuts with the glass plates for collodion (dishwasher) but this takes true patience and perseverance. My utmost respect!
After the plate has been polished until the surface is impeccable the plate is being galvanized in order to create a thin silver layer unto the plate. After that the plate is being buffed using three different ones, going from fine to finest buffing. The first buff also uses a bit of kaput mortuum, but then treated to get it even in a finer state, the second one is of untreated leather but finer than the first and the last one uses a flannel cloth as the finest way of buffing the plate. Now it’s ALMOST ready to be fumed!
As a side note..the plate can be prepared with Iodine only. It’s not necessarily needed to use Bromine. BUT (yes, there’s always one of those) the Bromine makes for a better contrast and detail in the plate. More mid tones can be achieved than when just working with the Iodine.
What a great day!! I wonder what’ll come next…? 🙂
Thank you once again Marinus and Charlotte. You did a great job and you’re fascinating people! Also a big thanks to the Pieter Brueghel Center who are cool enough to organize these sort of things!
I have one place left for a workshop Wet Plate Collodion I’ll be giving coming October 9th. Feel free to send me an email for more information regarding this event at indra [at] contrastique [dot] nl
I’m pleased to have booked a workshop Daguerreotype at the Pieter Brueghel center in Veghel November this year. To go back even further in time is something quite interesting and intriguing even though I have no plans (yet) to be working with this technique.
A sheet of copper that has been electroplated with a coating of metallic silver is used and polished to a fine sheen. This, according to those making daguerreotypes, is the most difficult and time-consuming part of the process. After this the metal plate is placed in a light-tight box (called an iodizing box) that contains iodine. In the box the fumes will react with the silver, creating a light-sensitive silver iodide coated plate. The plate will turn several colors during this iodizing stage from stray yellow to deep yellow, rose, blue and green. Deep yellow, tinged with rose was a typical fuming state of iodine-only daguerreotypes.
Under the illumination of candlelight the plate is loaded into a camera and exposed to a subject in bright sunlight. Then the plate will be developed in a box with the fumes of mercury that has been heated of 60 degrees Celsius. During this stage the mercury will merge (amalgamate) with the silver iodide that has been exposed to light.
Finally the plate is being washed with a diluted solution of sodium thiosulfate (originally sodium chloride; Daguerre’s manual, 1938) and washed with water. The shadows of the image are highly reflected polished silver, and the highlights are a white amalgam that scatters light, created by the mercury’s effect upon the silver during development. Once dried, it is permanent. (Source: The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes by Cristopher James)
If also interested in following this workshop click over here.
Yesterday I gave a Collodion workshop to Jacques who had contacted me a couple of weeks ago. It was a great day with an enthusiastic participant. He worked very clean and ended up with very beautiful plates of himself! The weather allowed us to work outside which was great. There’s nothing wrong with sniffing a bit of sun in between the ether 😉
Thank you Jacques for a wonderful day and for sharing the photos with me. The plates were photographed outside hence the reflections you see in them. Not that many photos were made, we were just too busy working the collodion process which is more fun anyway 😉
Today I visited Galerie Zebra after having been invited by Fred Bosschaert. This particular gallery is mainly focused on silver gelatin prints, a.k.a. prints produced in the darkroom starting from a genuine in-camera-made negative. Of course alternative processes are being welcomed there as well hence the why-I-ended-up-there too 😉
A while back I talked about setting up a public darkroom / studio / space where people could learn the rolling of a darkroom / a place where people could experiment with alternative photographic processes / a place where workshops can be given and exhibitions can be held etc. I have putted that plan on the back burner as it takes quite a bit of time & fundings etc. to manage a project like this. Seeing I haven’t particularly raised the last mentioned it would be a potential financial disaster if I would dive into that now. But Fred on the other hand has the time and the means to do so and he did! He’s currently creating this space and it will open 25th of March this year! The kick-off will be an exhibition and portrait session by Jerome de Perlinghi, a rather well-known Belgium photographer. For more information click here.
This particular building will have an exhibition space, a “public” darkroom where workshops are given, a daylight studio (!!!). a floor higher there’s a room where matting and framing can be done and at the top floor a small studio where intimate portraits can be made. With intimate I mean a small secluded space where you can work 1-on-1 with a model to create something personal.
This whole building is being created in the name of Photography. It’s all Photography there. Classic Photography even which is the most important part of all! Every photographer should, at least once in their short and miserable lives, experience the intimacy and sensual nature of working your images in a darkroom. That’s where the chemistry happens after all 😉
There are two darkrooms, one is somewhat for private use I believe and the second one is the public space. A nice large room which is big enough to host a couple of enlargers and make bigger prints. It’s all still in the making so keep that in mind when viewing my photos.
I have been asked to give a workshop in Collodion photography and we’re currently working out the details of it; date, duration etc. etc. The beauty of this place is that it has a daylight studio. With collodion all you need is UV light so that’s gonna work wonders! It is the absolute PERFECT spot to set up a portrait. And with 2 darkrooms in close range it’s going to be an even more perfect location hosting a workshop like this. Needless to say, I am looking forward tremendously!
On the right of this studio is the second darkroom and on the left you’re going back towards the exhibition space. It’s a nifty place and a marvelous location for these type of events.
Well, that was a short survey of the building-in-development. More will follow soon I’m sure. I’ll also post some photos from when it’s done because it’s going to be great! It’s all well thought-through over time and it’s being made with passion. How good can it get!
That wraps it up for now I guess. I’ll be back sooner than later! Oh, and I’ve also been asked to give a demonstration of wet plate photography at SASK St. Niklaas in Belgium. Awesome too so…..2011; bring it on!!
Have a good weekend all of you (what’s left of it anyway).
fred [dot] bosschaert [at] skynet [dot] be
Tel.: +32 475 900 011
Opening hours: by appointment, invitation or announcement only.
What a stunning weekend! I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for quite some time and it was fantastic! Jeroen is a wonderful teacher who’s very passionate and has the ability of explaining it all in a nice and easy manner. This has been of great help and I feel much more confident starting with all of this at home than before. It was great fun and very interesting. I regret not having registered myself for the advanced workshop in March 2010 which is, unfortunately, already completely booked. BUT, it was great and I have a good starting point now.
The group of people was luckily kept very small, only 7 people. They were all very nice people and it was really fun spending time with them and sharing our experiences through the day. It was a pretty diverse group as well with people coming from all sorts of backgrounds which made it even more interesting.
We gathered at 19:00 at the Pieter Bruegel Center in Veghel where we started with a cup of coffee waiting for all to arrive. We first introduced ourselves to the group and then went upstairs to learn about the history of Wet Plate. We saw some old plates, including Daguerro types, which are from the days before wet plate, to look at the things they have in common and what not as people tend to confuse the two. After that we went to take a look at the camera, the lenses and the chemicals and to discuss some theoretical things.
The evening flew by and before we knew it it was time to call it a quits. We went back to our B&B in Veghel and unpacked a bit of cheese and wine we had brought over. A perfect French closing of the day and after that we slept like a baby….well…not me, I was too anxious about the following day so I didn’t sleep much at all 😉
Saturday – The Day
At 09:30 our day started again at the Center and we got ready for the most exciting day of the 2. Jeroen started by mixing the Iodizer which consists of Ether, Ethanol & the 2 salts to show us how it gets done. He also had a premixed bottle which we were going to use as the freshly mixed Iodizer has to sit overnight.
He then showed us the entire procedure, starting with deburring the plate, cleaning the plate, pouring the plate, sensitizing it, photographing, developing, stopping and fixing. After that it was our turn! I think Bart was the first to start and he made a terrific one. His pouring was very well executed and the rest followed pretty easily too. I was pretty insecure about the pouring so when my time came I was really nervous. It was actually pretty easy pulling that off, although that might be just beginners luck 😉 I was also doubting about which fixer to use, we could choose between hypo and KCN, even more so because I could smell the Cyanide pretty good. After I saw the results with the KCN I decided to go for it anyway. Just held my breath a couple of times and it was fine. And the plates too!
Each one of us made 2 plates. One on black glass which is called Black Ambrotype, and one on Alumimium which is called Alumnitype. Even though the Alumnitypes are cheaper and more easy to use as you don’t have to clean and debur I prefer glass by far. It has more beautiful blacks and I like the extra work it takes. It’s very relaxing and if speed were of that much importance to me I would’ve stayed shooting on film only.
After all the chemical smells of that day, although the ether & alcohol smelled pretty nice, it was very pleasant ending up with varnishing the plates. This mix of Sanderac, Alcohol and Lavender oil really is a rewarding treat at the end of the day. I already bought Liquitex to varnish my plates at home but after smelling and seeing that I think I will most definitely go for that way of varnishing. I’ll try the Liquitex on the plate Quinn made of me, just because I want to see that varnish too, but the smell has won me over 😉
The fix has won me over too, I guess. I’ll still start out with the hypo but it won’t be long before I order the KCN. All in all it was a day of great surprises and I really feel like I can pull this one off at my home which was my goal in the first place. Thank you all for this wonderful and meaningful weekend!