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.