Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wet Plate Collodion Update

  It's been a while since I posted an update and some people began to wonder if I forgot how to work a keyboard.  To quell those worries here is a little something for all to enjoy.

  Since coming back to San Diego I have been knee-deep in mastering the art and craft of wet plate collodion imagery.  Some of you probably know that this is the technique used to create Ambrotypes (on clear or black glass) and Tintypes (on metal - mostly aluminum is used today).  The process was invented in 1850s and provides a uniquely beautiful photographic experience to both the artist and the model.  Each image is created from scratch using some basic alchemy and work must me carried out at a rather rapid pace as the collodion must not dry out between coating and subsequent exposure and development.   Even with all the care in the world, no two images will be alike and in that lays the crux of my attraction to this process.

  I am eternally grateful to the people who have endured a sitting with me.  Not having an assistant I am left to let them sit patiently by the camera while I am making the plate in the darkroom of The Photo Palace Bus.  It takes about 4 minutes from the time that he subject is posed to the moment when I emerge from the bus and then I have to dive back into the darkroom within a minute.  Now I understand very clearly why historically there was a need for a 'poser' - someone to situate the model and to keep them company while the photographer is 'in the dark'.  Here are some of the images that I have recently created.

4x5 Tintype - Laurel and Flower
5x7 Tintype - Margo and Laurel

5x7 Ambrotype - Margo

 4x5 Ambrotype - Jozlynn

 5x7 Tintype - Jozlynn

  Some of you may know that I am a big fan of vintage cameras.  My collection is growing and I decided to immortalize some of the best and most classic examples by creating a tintype series of camera portraits.  Here is the beginning of that series.

 4x5 Tintype - Hassleblad 500CM

  4x5 Tintype -Jumelle Belliene 

  4x5 Tintype -Retina IIIc

  4x5 Tintype -Rolleiflex Wide

  4x5 Tintype -Polaroid SX-70

  4x5 Tintype - Voigtlander Bessa

 4x5 Tintype - Zeiss Ikon

  It's 1am and I should really get to bed.  Today at 3pm I will be in West Hollywood doing a Magic Lantern Show.  There is a big Russian expat community and I hope for a big turnout.  Huge thanks to the City of West Hollywood Arts and Cultural Affairs office for sponsoring this event.
  Monday I will be shooting more wet plate images in hopes of expanding my portfolio with some quality shots.  Once I gain enough confidence in my skills I will offer portraits and then The Photo Palace Bus will become a true old-fashioned Photo Saloon (as they used to call traveling wet plate studios during 19th century).

Anton Orlov