Wet plate photographer Ian Ruhter has received a good deal of attention over the past year for using a custom camera van to create giant collodion process metal photos. When he’s not turning large sheets of metal into photographs, he’s sometimes working on the opposite side of the spectrum.
One of his recent interests has been shooting pint-sized photos using a Holga toy camera that he converted into a wet plate camera.
We’ve shared some interesting digital to analog conversions here in the past (e.g. printing iPhone photos using an enlarger), and here’s another one: create a digital wet plate by shooting a photo displayed on your computer monitor.
Wet plate collodion photographer Tony Richards recently saw this idea being mentioned online and decided to give it a shot. He pointed his camera at an image on his Apple iMac screen, and eventually got the wet plate seen above.
Slovenia-based professional photographer Borut Peterlin was recently tasked with shooting a portrait of painter/illustrator/author Milan Erič for influential Slovenian magazine Mladina. Peterlin decided that he wanted to create a wet plate collodion photo, but spent weeks worrying about whether he would be able to accomplish it given the tight schedule of the on-location shoot. He writes:
I can’t get rid [of] questions like where will I work, who will complain about it, where will I get water, will there be a drain to waste used water and developer, will there be enough light, will the person being portrayed have enough patience and what if something will go wrong with chemistry? If everything goes well, I make a portrait in an hour and if it doesn’t…
The night before the shoot, Peterlin decided to just play it safe by shooting the portrait on standard film and then converting the picture into a wet plate “in post” in a darkroom.
Last week we issued a challenge asking readers to shoot a creative mirror self-portrait using an alternative style of photography. Reader Agustin Barrutia took us up on that challenge, and created a pair of wet plate photographs that take the concept of “mirror self-portrait” to a new level (they’re unlike anything we’ve seen before). Both photographs are straight-out-of-camera wet plate photos that weren’t manipulated digitally. Barrutia simply used “mirrors” (one doesn’t involve a mirror, per se) and “reflections” in clever ways.
The wet plate above is a self-portrait of Barrutia shooting the wet plate. That camera in the frame is the camera that captured the wet plate.
Earlier this year, we shared a beautiful short documentary, titled “Silver & Light“, which featured Los Angeles-based photographer Ian Ruhter and the gigantic wet plate photographs he shoots using a van that he converted into a massive camera. Since then, Ruhter’s work has received a good deal of attention; the video now has nearly 1 million views, and Ruhter has been traveling around the country and using his special photography to tell the stories of people he meets.
He has just released the new video above, titled “American Dream.” It’s an inspiring look at some of Ruhter’s first shoots for the project (note: it contains some strong language).
Yesterday we shared an old school mirror self-portrait from 1917, captured by a young Australian fight pilot named Thomas Baker on a Kodak camera. After seeing that image, photographer Sam Cornwell decided to shoot his own old-school mirror selfie… using a 12×15-inch wet plate camera!
Have an old Polaroid camera lying around collecting dust? Did you know that you can use it for wet plate collodion photography? AlternativePhotography writes,
Most collodion photographers are using dedicated wet plate cameras, because wet plates are not nice to put into any ordinary modern cameras. There are instructions on how to use some normal medium and large format film cameras in the wet plate process. Most modern large format cameras are readily usable; only a special wet plate holder is needed. The drawback is the silver nitrate, possibly dripping from the holder inside the camera and eventually ruining it.
There are, however, certain types of cameras that you can use as is, without any modifications. Polaroid 100 – 400 series cameras were designed for Polaroid instant pack film, and the empty film holder can be converted to an excellent wet plate holder.
Once your film holder is modified to hold wet plates, you’ll also need to give the camera a makeshift “bulb mode” by covering its ‘Electric Eye’ light meter with black tape. The tutorial also discusses how you can expose wet plates using an enlarger and/or digitally printed film.
Wet plate collodion with a Polaroid camera [AlternativePhotography via Pixel Análogo]
Image credits: Photographs by Jalo Porkkala/AlternativePhotography
At first glance, New York-based photographer Richard Barnes‘ Civil War photos might look like they were taken from some museum or historical photographic archive. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll begin to notice things that are quite peculiar. In one of them, there’s a pickup truck parked in the background. In another, a man wears a T-shirt and baseball cap — certainly not the fashion you’d expect to see in a mid-1800s photo.
The truth is, Barnes creates beautiful war photos that appear to be from over a century ago by using the Civil War-era process of wet plate photography to capture modern day Civil War battle reenactments.
iPhone users who want to flaunt their inner photography geek can buy special skins or cases that transform their phone into a camera look-alike. That option wasn’t awesome enough for photographer Jake Potts of Bruton Stroube Studios, who recently decided to use his phone’s glass back to create an ambrotype photo using the wet plate collodion process!
Ian Ruhter is a Los Angeles-based photographer that creates massive wet plate photographs using a giant camera van. We featured a popular short film about his work back in April, and now here’s another short behind-the-scenes look by Laura Austin. Austin followed Ruhter around for a day to see how he creates the images in his project, titled “Silver & Light“. One interesting thing we find out is that some police officers aren’t too friendly towards giant mobile cameras.