Film Photography Podcast – Episode 134 – November 1st, 2015
Show Notes By: Alex Luyckx
It’s a big roundtable this shoe! Joining Michael Raso is Leslie Lazenby, Mat Marrash, Mark O’Brien, and special guest co-host Joseph Brunges! Topics on the show include getting your work shown, wet plate photography, listener letters, and much more!
Wet Plate Madness!
Joseph is no stranger to the FPP (having appeared back in Episode 92) and is an amazing wet plate photographer who recently made the drive up for our Ann Arbor Photowalk! To catch you up on the process, wet plate or tintype is one not for the faint of heart and you really do need to be quick on your feet about. Since the plate has to remain wet through the entire process you need to first compose/pose your shot and subjects, then prepare the plate, take the shot, then develop it! It’s not exactly a friendly process either you’ll be using ether (explosive) and silver nitrate (which causes skin discoloration or blindness). Of course this whole modern resurgence of wet plate can trace back to John Coffer, and it’s his website that you really want to visit if you’re thinking of getting into the process because he has a ton of resources available for sale to give you that start you need. Of course you’ll also want to look into getting some training as well through courses and workshops many are run through the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, or the International Center of Photography. Of course, you don’t have to use a large format camera – Leslie and Mark mention you can shoot tiny square tintypes using Holga cameras. If you’re looking to try it out without investing too heavily Freestyle offers a Tintype Parlor kit which gives you a similar result. Going in head first, your best source for chemicals is Bostick & Sullivan.
Wet Plates as a Print
But there are some subjects and locations that don’t lend themselves well to wet plate work. And that’s what Joseph has been experimenting with, making tintype prints from positive film shots, using either B&W Negative film or colour slide film. For B&W Joseph has been sending his film off to dr5 using either Rollei RPX 25 or Kodak TMax 100 at the suggestion of the fine folks at dr5, who can process most B&W negative film as positive! From there you can pretty much use any camera you want, even modern autofocus camera with image stabilization. You can even get some sky and cloud detail! Plus since you’re simply making prints using an enlarger there’s plenty of adjustments you can make such as the age of the collodion used to make the plate and over/under exposure and development! And Joseph can always make duplicates from the same film negative.
Pictures at an Exhibition
Getting your photos on display is actually very much within your reach…the trick is to keep it local. We often rely on the Internet to get your work “out there” but Joseph has some tips on how to get noticed locally. The idea Joseph suggests is to get in touch with local arts councils. Meet them and if possible show your work. And this is where being a film photographer (or wet plate photographer) can really help you stand out from the average digital shooter. This is how he recently got some of his own wet plate work displayed after doing a series of portraits of the Haddam,CT Volunteer Fire Brigade, as well and plenty of other oppurtunties to show and sell his work. But for him it’s not about the money, because these days its hard to make money on photography. And one final piece of wisdom, shoot what you love, show your passion, because there will be people who do appreciate the effort you put into it.
If you want to see more of Joseph’s awesome work you can check out his website or flickr for more, also his contact information if you want to give the wet plate process a try at his studio or if you have more questions about it!
That’s it for this show, but we’ll be back in a short two weeks! In the mean time you can always get in touch with us either through email: email@example.com or by the regular postal service: Film Photography Podcast PO Box 152, Butler, NJ, 07405, USA. You can also interact with the whole FPP community at our forums or in our flickr group! Closing out today’s show is Daren Riley & The Smoove Sailors!