Ken Miner came through and held a seminar on Wet Plate photography. The process is also know as the Colliodion process and dates back to the 1850’s, the dawn of photography.
The process has gained a new resurgence as a reaction to the perfect, glossy, fast world of digital. As much as “normal” film is coming back bit, and people constantly ask me if I’d ever shoot film again, processes like Wet Plate appeal to me the most. It’s the ultimate in hands-on and slow and it creates an unique image you simply can’t replicate with any other technology.
Ken’s been a practitioner of the process for several years and there was a lot of excitement from the small group to learn the step necessary to make an image.
The morning started with Ken photographing each of us while we all watched and made notes and asked questions.
the process is called “wet Plate” because the entire process from start to finish has to happen while the plate is wet, so the coating and sensitizing, exposing and developing all has to happen in succession on site!
The plates are sensitive to UV so even in nice light exposures are 6-8 seconds. People have to hold still! Then right after the exposure it’s back in to the darkroom for developing, then fixing the image,which can happen in daylight!
I sat first so my portrait came out a little dark but it was still very cool to go through the process as a subject to understand how it feels.
After lunch we had Style Hunter Fox, come by with some period clothing and we all took turns at photographing her. It was a bit nerve-wracking but very exciting to go through the steps and have an image work!
A couple days later Ken took the seminar outside! Ken has a customized darkroom in the back of his van, which allows you to shoot on location.
The cool part of the fixing process done in daylight, is the subject gets to see themselves emerge from the plate, like magic! Their reaction is the best part of shooting portraits with this process!I put a call out on Facebook for a subject and Kristy formerly of the Lab Works, came by for a few plates.
This first one I was just trying to make an image of any kind, didn’t spend much time with the pose or expression, and it shows!
The next plate Kristy and I spent a bit more time on finding pose that she could feel relaxed in for 6 seconds and then I prompted her a bit more to find the right expression.
The next one I wanted to try something different, Kirsty is a passionate practitioner of yoga so I wanted to see if she could hold the pose for 6 seconds! She nailed it!
Needless to say, this was a LOT of fun! Everyone who attended the seminar is vowing to continue making images and we’re all working together to source the necessary materials. I hope to share more images very soon!