Saturday, February 28, 2015

In the Footsteps of Claude-Joseph Désiré Charnay ( (1828-1915)- Photographing the Mayan Ruins at Uxmal with Dry Plate Collodion Negatives~

My husband and I are alternative process photographers that appreciate the historic photographic techniques of those who pioneered the medium. We are fortunate that our friends associated with The George Eastman House in Rochester, New York have the resources to share their knowledge of our photographic forefathers and to teach us those processes that are no longer regularly practiced and afford us the chance to learn how the art of photography morphed into what we know today. 

Furthermore, we have learned that the earlier photographic techniques produce an image that is more ethereal than those associated with modern digital images. There is something visceral about the salt prints or albumen prints made from dry or wet plate negatives that were cutting edge to our forefathers.

Although we did not enter the Mayan ruins of Uxmal with burros transporting our photographic equipment, we did utilize the same dry-plate process making glass negatives with box camera used by Charnay. We used sun exposure on silver nitrate sensitized paper to make prints from the negatives.

Our group which was under the leadership of Mark Osterman, process historian with The George Eastman House, was among the first photographers in more than 145 years to use make photographic glass plate collodion negatives at a Mayan site in Mexico. What an honor and privilege!

Those who protect the historic legacy of the Mayan provided us with guidance, support, and the opportunity to make history. Thanks to the Mexican government officials who paved our way at Dzibilchaltun and Uxmal. I truly feel blessed that we were provided with this chance.

And thanks to The George Eastman House for fostering an interest in these historic processes and providing opportunities for us to explore artistic expression using these esoteric alternative artistic methods.

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