Capturing Yosemite Valley with the World’s Largest Wet Plate Collodion Camera

Two years after photographer Ian Ruhter tried to capture photographs of the Yosemite Valley using the world’s largest wet plate collodion camera and suffered a “devastating failure,” he decided to chase this seemingly impossible dream again.

Called Silver & Light, the initial project took a turn towards the worst when Ruhter’s methods for developing the photographs didn’t go as planned.

Crushed that his project failed and, in fact, didn’t yield any results at all (let alone the ones he was hoping for) it took him a year and a half to perfect the process and build up the courage to once again return to the beautiful scenes that had taunted him from the back of his truck–turned–camera/darkroom.


The latest film is aptly titled Yosemite, and follows his second attempt to capture the scenery around him using the behemoth wet plate collodion camera. In the film, Ruhter explains how and why he is attempting the project again, and also why it means so much to him to give it another shot.

“Maybe you can’t just show up here and just be amongst these great photographers,” he says. “Maybe you have to pay your dues. I’m sure they experienced hard times, and I never factored that in, and I don’t think anyone does because you just see the end product of the good days.”


Yosemite is a joy to watch, both for the inspirational story of perseverance and for the resulting images. If you’d like to keep up with Ruhter and his projects, you can do so over on his site, his Tumblr, his Instagram, or his Facebook Page.

  • dragonfist

    I am glad to see it worked out for him. I am sure it is so true of the great photographers of the past. We see the result of the efforts that worked but the failures are in the dustbin of history. What I wouldn’t have given to be 35 years younger and been there to be a part of his great adventure.

  • James Tarry

    Just beautiful imagery, and passion. His website videos just sums up everything about photography for me. A wonderful PP post.

  • Mikey

    Agreed. Very enjoyable.

  • JohnnyRodriguezPhotography

    I saw his first video 3 quarters ago, and tried finding him on the web to ow hom a bit closer. I am glad hes at it again, when he finishes he is going tonjave extremely beautiful work

  • Davey_J

    I first saw Ian on Chase Jarvis and fell in love with his work. I love his Wet Plate work and follow everything he does. Such a great guy.