Tag Archives: wet plate photography

Spring Break

Hello again, everyone! Hey, did you hear that 500 new fairytales were recently released from an archive in Germany? That’s pretty exciting for every lover of the fantastical like me. I just wonder how long it will take for Disney to ruin them ha ha ha.

But anyway, enough of that side note. Spring break is in full swing. I am, as tradition holds, watching Netflix while avoiding the mountain of school work that needs attending to. I’m back home in Tennessee for the week trying to enjoy a little r&r and ma famille. The weather is divine as well, sunny and cool, just as early March should be. We’ve had two fires in the fireplace since I got in Sunday night, and I get to shuffle around the house in sweaters and thick socks. It’s lovely.

It’s actually been a rather eventful past few days. Mom and Dad came down to pick me up in Gainesville on Saturday having dodged then braved storms all the way from Nashville to south Georgia. That night they officially met the lad for the first time. I don’t exactly have a great track record for picking guys that pass muster. I could not have asked for a more different and exponentially better outcome this Saturday past. Both parties enjoyed each other immensely, and we all had a lovely dinner. It was quite adorable because both sides asked the next day what the other thought of them. I was happy to give satisfactory reports all around.

As much as I hate to admit emotional weakness and general gooey-eyedness, I am miss the lad a lot. It’s our first significant amount of time apart since we started up. I’m starting to wonder how we’re going to make it through three months when I leave for Nashville come May. Oh yeah, I’ll be living in Nashville over the summer completing an internship at the Tennessee State Museum working with some photography collections and getting to work on some of the programs done across the state. I’m looking forward to it very much. Although I will be very busy and close to my friends and family again, I will miss Ryan greatly. But what’s that Rochefoucauld quotation, “Absence diminishes small loves and increases great ones, as the wind blows out the candle and fans the bonfire.” I’m banking on that being the case.

Enough of that business, though. I got to spend the entire day yesterday in the studio. I was also on fire. Out of seven plates, only one turned out slightly less than what I wanted. That never happens. I will freely admit I have expended five or six plates just to get one shot perfectly. I have a senior picture shoot with a local student Thursday so I hope the winning streak lasts.

Well, I think I have probably wasted enough time, and I should get onto my Ethics homework. I will leave you with two more things, though. Last Friday Ryan and I spent time listening to and sharing music with each other. The fact that we can do this is very important to me. We both share a love for La Blogothèque‘s Take Away Shows and, because we’re freakishly cute, we both think the Beirut ones are the best. So, as a last bit of gooey-eyedness here they are because they remind me of the lad (and they’re just amazing if you’ve never watched them). Enjoy.

(Okay, no more lovesick puppy nonsense again for a very long while).

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This is totally normal family bonding in my house.

Dad and I spent the last few days working with our skeleton friend who has appeared in a series of wet plates from the Studio as well. This is the first time all break I’ve really had enough light and time to mess around with the cameras. It was nice to work with Dad on these. We had a lot of fun, and I think we ended up with some cool shots. Irving enjoyed being studio cat again too.

Here are the two keepers from yesterday:

I love how I live in a house where this is commonplace.

These were the second day’s efforts:

It’s always nice to spend the day doing what I love with those I love.

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I have a favor to ask…

I just entered the Exposure 2011 photography competition yesterday with some of my wet plate work. If you like the work I do and want to help me win a grant to keep doing it, a trip to NYC and Paris, and major exposure, then please go to my portfolio here and vote for me by liking it. Then please share it with your friends. Thanks for the support, everyone!

(P.S. I’m pretty sure you can vote daily, so keep coming back!)

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Wet plate, Monsters, and Gators

Friday, for first time in months, I took my cameras out into the field. I am working on a project with a sculpture MFA student here. She creates these fantastical creatures, monsters to some, the “friendly unknown” to her. I am shooting some of her creations in wet plate to hopefully add to a growing exhibition idea involving hoaxes, faux taxidermic specimens, and a lot of imagination (details will come as they develop). Check out her work here.  Jen and I really get along well artistically and as friends. I really loved working with her Friday and look forward to much more of it in the future.

This whole concept of the “friendly unknown,” as she calls it is, really fascinating and beautiful. It’s meant to push people to expand their minds and be brave about what they don’t know. Jen believes it is arrogant to think that we are completely alone in the universe, that there are no such things as Big Foots (Feet?) or Nessies, and even that there isn’t some greater being guiding it all. We just don’t know, so it’s silly to shut down and say that “there is no such thing,” when there is no way to know. It’s much more fun to be open and pleasantly surprised than close-minded and embarrassed by previous assertions of absolutism. As Jen pointed out, all those people who said the world was flat hundreds of years ago, still look pretty dumb today. I like her philosophy.

We shot on the prairie in Micanopy on one of the observation decks. Jen got down in the brush (which is probably not allowed but there were no signs saying not to), and we had a blast despite heavy cloud cover and crazy winds. The weather, while not ideal for traditional pretty, pristine plates, sort of suited my approach to this project perfectly. I was tasked with documenting an inanimate object, which is meant to look like a living, wild creature in a wild environment as if he belonged there. The plates needed to be slightly out of focus, grainy, gritty, and slightly rushed, as if someone was actually trying to quickly document the rare sighting before the creature lumbered off. They were pictures of proof, I suppose. The nature of Jen’s concept, though, also made me thing of her creature as a gentle giant character, something perhaps fearsome or unnerving at first, but gentle and sweet beyond the odd exterior.

From these concepts I looked to these bits of inspiration when photographing the monster:

The Barbapapa children’s book series by Annette Tison (especially Barbapapa’s Ark).

Did anyone else read these lovely books as a child?

Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are:

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss:

Despite the fact that this book, and all of his other books for that matter, scared the bejesus out of me as a child.

And finally the Patterson-Gimlin hoax film:

The plates we made are far from what would be considered a “good plate” in the wet plate world. They are dark, overexposed, blurred, and have spots and specks, but that’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted them to appear as if they were produced in haste, as if trying to capture the creature before it wondered on its way. I think they turned out really well. Here are some:

Being two gals not from the land of gators, we had no clue that they would hang out in areas without water (silly us). After we were done with the shoot, and Jen was finished tramping around in the tall grass, we found this guy in a storm drain by the parking area:

He would have had to crawl in via the prairie. There was no other way for him to enter the drain.

Yeah, I’m glad we didn’t run into him out on the prairie.

Yesterday we had the pleasure of doing an engagement shoot for one of my friends and fellow museum studies student, Courtney, and here fiancé Brad. The weather was kinder and less windy and the location (their neighbors’ backyard) was perfect for this sort of session.

Here are the best shots:

I feel satisfied for the next few weeks, but I can’t wait until I get to go home for the holidays and play with my cameras again.

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What do I do?

Someone offered to pay a fair sum for some of my artwork for the first time over the weekend. I was just made aware of this tonight, by the way. Now, I am not a stranger to selling my photography. I do a lot of that, but I make a huge distinction between the commissioned cheap, whored-out portrait work I do at events and the plates I make for myself. Talk about a foreign feeling. I have never made art with the intention to sell EVER. I used to think this was because I had some high moral ground to tread, but now I’m not sure.  Now I feel like I’m faced with the sell-out dilemma. Am I still being true to myself as an artist if I sell the work that has a little piece of me in it, that I originally made for myself? I’ve never thought about being a full on professional artist. Yes, I know I own a studio. I know technically I am a professional, but, as I said, the work I do out of the studio for others, I don’t really consider art.

This is causing me to question my stance. I need to think on this more. Hmmmmmmm….

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Happy days are here again (not)

I would like to start by asking everyone to please keep the victims of the horrible storms in the South in their thoughts. I know they haven’t gotten as much media attention as they should in the past few days due to other world events, but there’s a pretty huge tragedy going on in my home region, so let’s not forget about all the good people down there.

Now, on to lighter things…

Well, it’s that time of the year again, folks. Finals season is here (and my last one of undergrad yikes!) Yes, sleeplessness, caffeine dependence, and frantic study seshes have once again begun to consume the student populace here. I’m a victim too. This is in large part the reason why I haven’t posted much in the past few days. I am knee (or maybe chest) deep in final papers at the moment. As of approximately 6:30 on the evening of May 6th, however, I shall be officially free. I take my last final that afternoon and will be back to posting again. I must admit, I’ve missed it quite a lot, and it’s been hard saving up all I have to say. Alas, I will have to wait, though, as it is essential I make a good showing on my exams and term papers.

On the bright side, though, there are only 15 full days until Graduation. I can’t say that I’m not ready mentally, but, damn, there’s a lot to do in those coming days (finals, squeezing in time with friends, grad preparations–oh jeez, I still have to find something to wear on the big day…) Anyway, needless to say, it’s going to be a busy half month, but the big breath I’ll get to exhale on the morning of the 16th will be all the more lovely for it, until I remember that I’m about to make a two day journey home by car, ah well.

Before I sign off, though, for the next week, I would like to leave you all with two things. The first is the newly minted Flickr photostream from a wet plate contact of mine, Fionnbharr Ó Súilleabháin, an Irish collodion artist living in Portugal. I love his eye, and his images are well worth a look. Find them here. I must say, my favorites are of little Éamonn. That kid is crazy cute!

The second thing I would like to share is purely for fun. Finals season for me always means I have a top-notch list of playlists lined up to get me through. Good music is essential for writing good papers. Here is a video from my high school idols The Clash (I had a great aspiration back then to be Joe Strummer when I grew up).  Enjoy some “Straight to Hell,” and to all those preparing for finals, seniors and otherwise, good luck and give ’em hell!

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Wet Plate meets Radiohead

Now that my early week barrage of exams is over, and I am recovering from an all night write-a-thon thanks to my uncanny knack for procrastination, I decided to give myself the afternoon off. For me this means putting off class readings while I read through my usual list of music blogs instead.

As I was perusing Stereogum I chanced upon a photo caption contest they posted for the first publicity photo Radiohead released for their forthcoming album. Now, Stereogum tends to be on the snarky side at times and they were obviously poking fun at the image’s old-timey look and feel. Here is the contest and the image. As I looked more closely, though, I was astonished to discover it was a wet plate image. The plateholder marks in the corners and the underdeveloped but over fixed edge of collodion at the bottom of the image are the dead give-aways.

I needed to find out who the photographer, Sebastian Edge, was. It turns out he is indeed a wet plate photographer in the U.K. who operates out of what he terms “The Darkvan,” basically a large van that’s been turned into a mobile studio. He has a website and a blog and, from what I’ve gathered, seems to be an interesting fellow. It’s always nice to happen upon a fellow collodion artist, and kudos to Radiohead for becoming patrons of the wet plate process.

One day I would like to have my own (stationary) studio where I can make images of rock stars. Think Annie Leibovitz meets Matthew Brady. Ah, a girl can dream…

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