I have been drawn to explore alternative photographic processes, or historic processes, and employ a combination of these for image capture and printing methods. I find immense self satisfaction in creating each image with my own hands.
Self Portrait. Ambrotype/ Wet Plate Collodion on black glass. 4x5” 2019
Wet Plate Collodion
Wet plate photography dates back to the 1850’s, it is one of the earliest methods of photography. An emulsion of salted collodion, sensitised with silver nitrate is used to coat either glass or aluminium plates. Each plate must be loaded into the camera, exposed and developed while the emulsion is still wet. Apart from the hand made nature of these images, there are striking differences to the ‘look’ of modern image making. This is due in part to the sensitivity of the collodion emulsion to a narrow part of the light spectrum and also its slow response to that light.
Using black glass, or black coated aluminium a one off positive image is produced. Using clear glass, a negative may be produced. Wet plate glass negatives have incredible resolution and detail given that this is a virtually grainless emulsion, I enjoy using these negatives with a variety of printing methods.
Dress Detail. Chrysotype print. 8x10” 2019
Traditional analog photography that we are most familiar with is based on silver gelatin emulsions on film or paper. Before the popularity of silver other noble metals were used in photography, such as platinum, palladium, and possibly less well known; gold.
Gold prints, or chrysotypes are archival and offer a range of tones from magenta, pink, purple, violet through to blue and green depending on the treatment. As with other alternative printing methods, cotton paper is coated by hand with light sensitive chemistry and contact printed with a large format negative. I use both film, and wet plate glass negatives. This was the first alternative process I was introduced to, and I was instantly hooked on the beautiful, moody tones I could produce.
Pheasant. Salt Print, glass wet plate negative. 8x10” 2018
Salt printing is the oldest photographic printing method, dating back to the 1830’s and is the basis of negative to positive printing and modern analog photography. Salt printing offers arguably the widest tonal range of all the alternative printing methods, in tones of chocolate brown. The colour of the print (warmer or cooler tones) varies with chemistry choice and toning methods. Cotton paper is coated in a two step process, first with a simple salt solution, and secondly with silver nitrate. This is a contact printing method, so a large format negative is used and the image is exposed with UV light.
Wye River pin hole image. Silver Gelatin print. 2018
Image making using the simplest of apparatus, basically a wooden box with a tiny pinhole in place of a lens, and a piece of film. With no viewfinder and often an extremely wide angle view, practice is certainly required to train your minds eye.
The very tiny aperture of the pinhole requires long exposures, especially in subdued light. I am particularly interested in employing this method to record images of time passing. These images are never truly ‘sharp’ as there is no lens to focus the light, often a dreamy or other worldly image is created.