Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wet Plate

I have been playing with a novel idea that has led me to antique photographic processes. The earliest, calotypes and daguerreotypes popular in the 1840s and 1850s, were replaced by the ambrotype and variations around the time of the Civil War.  These are all wet plate processes. The ambrotype involves preparing a piece of glass, coating it with a collodion chemical mixture, then submerging it into a silver nitrate bath. Once the surface is light sensitive, the plate is put into a negative holder and exposed--the length of exposure is determined by the amount of light available. The plate is then quickly developed with another chemical solution, fixed with another solvent, dried, and varnished. It is an amazing process, fraught with the potential for error at every step. But those errors also can create beautiful, even haunting, effects.

Living in Providence has many benefits, one of which is the community arts organization AS220. They offered a wet plate collodion class with talented artist and teacher Brett Henrikson. It was an amazing class. I overuse amazing, but it is entirely accurate here! I encourage everyone with an interest to give it a try.  Here are the results, some of my work and some from others.

Still life of a cotton boll. Very fitting.

The beautiful Lara.

A gorgeous portrait of Lara, very Gibson Girl. 
Mitch, a Jack London feel.

Marilyn, all in the eyes.

Peter and Amy, true love.

And me as Edward Gorey...

Sylvester Stallone...

and myself, this might be my new author photo...

No comments:

Post a Comment