Wet Plate Journey

01_wetplate_072914

Bronwyn Coffeen and John David Mercer pose for a wet plate collodion portrait on their wedding day in Mobile, Ala., Saturday, July 19, 2014. The 8×10 tintype image was produced using a vintage 1896 view camera with an 1880 brass petzval lens.

The technical journey photography has taken me on over the past twenty years has been nothing short of remarkable. I’ve gone from shooting 35mm film on a Canon AE-1 for the Block Jr. High yearbook, to shooting on my first digital camera in high school that had a whopping 1/3 megapixel (yes, one-third of one megapixel) resolution, to clacking away at ten frames-per-second on the latest Canon 1-series digital bodies. While digital technology has allowed me to obtain images that would have been impossible to capture as cleanly on any other format, there’s something about the digital workflow that lacks soul. I can’t hold 1′s and 0′s in my hand. I can’t accidentally drop and scratch a .jpeg file. I can’t smell a histogram.

Read More…

A Summer Goal

01_lightning_070214Lightning strikes the Willis Tower following a severe thunderstorm as seen from Solidarity Drive, Monday, June 30, 2014.

When I first captured lightning striking the antennae of Chicago’s Willis (Sears) Tower late in the season last September, I immediately made it a goal to capture that image again, but from a cleaner angle and with a cleaner lens!

Read More…

Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Tips And Tricks on July 2nd, 2014. No Comments.

Collodion Decanting Rig

1_collodion_061014

A collodion decanting rig facilitates removing collodion from a bottle without removing the sediment which settles to the bottom as the collodion clears.

In my seven months practicing wet plate collodion photography, I’ve continually struggled with a way to remove the collodion from the bottle I prepare it in without including any of the sediment which settles to the bottom as it clears. Of course, it’s critical that none of this sediment ends up in the collodion you plan on using on your plates, because it causes all sorts of contamination issues with your images and chemistry.

Read More…

Sochi 2014: 4×5 Film Frames

01_olyfilm_042814

Men’s bobsled competitors head down the track and the Sanki Sliding Center during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Sunday, February 16, 2014.

It’s been just over two months since I returned from my trip to Mother Russia to document the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, a trip that will always be among the top experiences I’ve had in my life. And, if you can keep something between you and me, it’s been roughly the same amount of time since I developed all 34 sheets of the Kodak Tri-X 320 4×5 film I shot throughout the games. This begs the question, “Why did you wait two months to share those images here?”

Read More…