Monday, September 8, 2014

Another Day Behind the Lens With Wet Plate Collodion Photography

The past few Sundays I’ve been back in the yard and dark room experimenting with making ambrotype images using 19th Century technology.  We use an early photographic process to make images on glass or tin. I love using glass plates because it is so forgiving. If the image isn’t great, I can just rub it off the glass, clean it and start over again.

 I am fortunate that we have a darkroom in our basement.  Although after yesterday, it is in transition. We had a slight problem with a leaky sink that had to be extracted. Other than one end being dropped on my foot and banging my ear against a faucet while mopping up the flood, all life forms survived!

My husband Todd enjoys portraiture.  I don’t. I enjoy landscapes and still life images. Todd has his vision of a pleasing arrangement. My inspiration is often completely different. My taste tends towards the less conventional. And there is something satisfying to me to attempt to create something beautiful, or at least intriguing, from the ordinary.  I spent an entire afternoon photographing a tree stump and its detritus.  And I liked the result. I made positive images. He made negatives. The Yin and the Yang. Despite our different artistic visions, there is a symbiosis in our working together that feels mutually encouraging.

I’m still a neophyte at this process. I pour a good plate. My exposures are good. I’m getting better at seeing when to stop the development process. But I’m still refining my developing technique, which can result in some level of frustration from my live-in mentor.  I spent some time back at the drawing board pouring water over glass.  And after I insisted on making one last plate, while the water was dripping underneath the sink, I could feel the impatience brewing. But I’m glad I pushed for one last effort.  My OCD kicked in. I HAD to get it right! The result was good.

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