Saturday, June 16, 2018

San Diego Mission Dam


  This morning I was invited by Race and Ashton, my local buddies, to go fishing at the old San Diego Mission Dam.  I’m by no means a fisherman, especially being allergic to seafood of any kind, but I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to finally take the box I made for Europe Trip a couple of months ago for its first test on home soil.  The 203 year old dam is now surrounded by Mission Trails Park, great place to hike by the way, and, though water barely flows this time of the year, there’s still some great little nature vignettes, which one can find if they get off the beaten path far enough.  The over-the-shoulder dark box setup is perfect for such excursions.  

  I got very lucky, and all day the low marine layer clouds kept the sun at bay, while still providing plenty of UV for collodion. Race and Ashton cast their poles into the murky pond waters, and I set up my operation under a small tree upon gravel of a dry river wash.   Here’s my first plate and the darkroom setup.




  Meanwhile, Race knocked off his hat into the water while swinging his pole, leading to a lively rescue operation that saw the biggest catch of the day as the result.   Here, the target is being zeroed in on by Ashton.


  They continued to exert efforts of hooking a fish for a while, which gave me an opportunity to make a total of 7 plates including the one you see above.  All of the plates were secured on first try, except for one of the compositions, the ‘up the river shot’.  I really wanted to use a Petzval with wider aperture to get the certain look, and thee scene was so bright that I had to try a few times before I got my lens cap shutter technique down to yield an approximately 1/4sec exposure.   
  By the way, today’s images are all 4x5 in and were made with either of the following two lenses – Wide Angle RR Dallmeyer 1aa (4in focus) and a 7in Voigtlander Petzvla (stopped down for all exposures to 5.6).  They were copied after varnishing using a Canon 5DII, and color and tone adjusted in Lightroom to match the final look as close as possible. 








Anton

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wet Plate Yosemite Trip


  After getting back from Europe, it wasn’t a week until Conrad Young (local wet plate photographer) had a little adventure planned for us, which would take us by Will Dunniway’s place for a day and then just a day of shooting in beautiful Yosemite.  Since my girlfriend, Jozlynn, hasn’t been there yet, she was glad to come along as well.

5x7in tintype


  Will Dunniway has been a pillar in the world of wet plate collodion for close to three decades now.  He has taught numerous masters and influenced many more.  Will is a very traditional shooter and his work is outstanding.  Not long ago he moved from Los Angeles to the hills just south of Yosemite, so now it’s a pretty good trek to visit him, but it’s really worth it – he’s a kind soul with immense knowledge about collodion and many other topics.
  When visiting Will, Conrad and I got to pour our first 11x14 plates (a little project, which is not to be publicized, that we helped with).  11x14 is fun!  A lot of ether fumes…  
It was a long drive from San Diego, so for the rest of the day we just relaxed, and headed to bed early in order to get to Yosemite early next day.

  Will told us of a beautiful secluded spot in the middle of Yosemite Valley, from which three peaks can be photographed, and that was our first stop.  After lugging the gear from our car to a little meadow a few hundred feet away, Conrad and I set up our dark boxes and went to work, while Jozlynn painted. 
  At this location I made 6 positive plates (1 4x5in and 5 5x7in) and 5 5x7in negatives (one scene photographed twice).  Below are the plates and first prints from the 5 negatives.  These are just first proofs, they were made on Kodak AZO F1 paper.  I plan on printing them more seriously in the future, but this is a good representation of information in final prints. 
4x5in Tintype

5x7in Tintype

 5x7in Tintype

5x7in Tintype

5x7in Tintype

 5x7in Kodak AZO Print

 5x7in Kodak AZO Print

 5x7in Kodak AZO Print

 5x7in Kodak AZO Print



5x7in Kodak AZO Print


  The plan initially was to shoot at least in 3 locations, but the meadow was so serene, and views so spectacular, that, after packing up, we only had time to drive a bit farther, and into a spot where a good view of Yosemite Falls could be seen.  Everywhere except for the meadow tourists were teeming, so the sense of awe in presence of such magnificent landscape was somewhat muted in intensity.   The particular parking lot we chose was relatively small, and so crowds were sparse as well.  Absence of tourists however was more than made up in biomass for by swarms of hungry mosquitoes. They were too slow to keep up with us as we were setting up, but made their presence known immediately as we started pouring the first plate and had to stay still.  While developing one of the plates you see below, one of the little blood-suckers landed right inside my ear.  I heard him fly up, I felt the bite start, I felt it all the way through, I heard him fly off…  My arms were inside the film changing bag sleeves and my face buried in the snorkeling mask that acts as a window in my dark box.  I was completely defenseless for approximately a minute, and that little guy knew it, picking time to start his attack with precision of a four-star general.  I was robbed of a few drops of my blood, but in the end walked away with these plates, so I think it was worth it. 

 4x5in Tintype

 4x5in Tintype

 4x5in Tintype



4x5in Tintype

  In order to skip LA traffic we didn’t stay another night at Will’s, just swung by for a bit to show our haul of plates and to say our goodbyes.  We left about 10-11pm and I didn’t get back home till 4am, but it was well worth the lost hours of sleep – driving through Los Angeles at any time other than 1-5am can result in many endless hours of sitting in bumper-to-bumper gridlock.
  Yosemite is too close though not to go back, so in the future you might see more posts about excursions there.  
Anton