Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bought Me Some More "Unknown Woman" Ambrotypes

Bought 2 more unknown women photographs, this time both are of the same beautify lady. I wonder who she was? What was her story? Got the ambrotypes cheap at $8.95 USD each plus combined shipping. I am thinking of attaching this collected "Unknown Woman" ambrotype series to the inside walls of my wet plate utility truck darkroom. I am hoping their gaze will help propel me forward, help inspire me to complete the massive "KANATA" series.

Note* The Facebook post:

Got me 2 more photos for my "Unknown Woman" ambrotype collection. This time the pics are of the same person. Who was she? What was her story? What kind of life did she have? I find these forgotten faces, these long lost portraits fascinating. Am planning to place the pics inside the mobile wet plate darkroom truck I will eventually put together. I hope these faces from the 100+ years ago will help me to do my own wet plate work. They will be my guardians from a past era, inspiring and pushing me forward.

Unknown Woman #3

Monday, July 24, 2017

"KUWAIT" By Sebastiao Salgado

I picked up a wonderful used reprint (2016 Taschen) copy of Sebastiao Salgado's book  "KUWAIT". I believe Salgado is the worlds greatest livng photographer, he is an idol of mine. Photographs like in this book are highly inspirational for me, the grain is quite wonderful, the emotions and feelings in the photographs more so. I will head back to the "Families of the Dump" my mind filled with Sagado's imagery!
Here is a link to this masterful work.
Salgado Sabastiao's "KUWAIT" on Amazon.ca

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Penticton Art Gallery Update

Seems the Penticton Art Gallery "Families of the Dump" photo exhibition will be happening sometime in 2018 after my return from Thailand. In around May/June of 2018 I will have a whole new selection of 8x10 and 35mm negs to print from along with a documentary film (I hope). The later timing makes sense on a number of levels. I am quite happy that I have an exhibition on my return in 2018. This is added incentive to work extra hard making photographs of the families my next trip.

I will call Paul the director/curator of the Penticton Art Gallery later this week to talk things over. This will be an important show that raises the bar a little on the old CV and more importantly tells the story of the families in a prestigious British Columbia gallery. More people will be able to see the work, hear the stories, some of who might reach out to help those in need.

This will also be my first exhibition in Canada outside of my home province of Alberta. I did have one non Canadian international exhibition of sex worker portraits in New Orleans Louisiana several years ago during the PhotoNOLA photo festival). This thou will be my first Canadian exhibition outside of Alberta. I guess that is a positive step forward. I need to get shows down in Eastern Canada in the next several years as well. Hoping to eventually do major cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Winnepec, Hamilton and Montreal.

Update* I spoke to Paul today on the phone. He is OK with the show happening on my return from Thailand and is interested in incorporating some Karen people art alongside the family photos. Not sure how this is all going to run down just yet, more phone calls and communication to follow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Links: Video Photographer Pedro Meyer Thoughts

Photographer Pedro Meyer on modern art. Well said brother! A wonderful interview! I feel the same way about my photography, and like Mr. Mery have an unemotional connection, indifference to most modern art. He is so right, it is not process but the final image that matters most. If it is digital or wet plate, or whatever, it is the final work, its emotional appeal, that is important, it is all that matters in the end.

An eloquent and important interview. Give it a look see if you have the time.

Oh yes, forgot to mention. "I AM A STORY TELLER!"

YouTube Video: What Does Photographer Pedro Meyer Think?

Here is the artist interview series from Ted Forbes at the Art of Photography site. Check them out, they are great.

Art of Photography: Artist Series Interveiws

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fun With Wet Plate Chenistry

Gosh, this is going to be interesting! Lets go over my adventures today in wet plate chemistry/ First thing I noticed, I needed to think a lot!! In my regular darkroom work which I have been doing for 30 plus years everything flows fluidly and relatively easily Today thou with this new wet plate stuff, confusion rained, could not find tools, found tools, dropped tools, poured in this when I should have poured in that! It when on and on like that all morning.

The main issue of the day came up when I tried to read the PH of my old Bostick and Sullivan silver nitrate bath I figured out and did the specific gravity for the bath right adding some silver to make it 9% but when I checked the PH it said 8.2. What? It is supposed to be around 4 for positive ambrotypes/tintypes. So following my limited training I added some Nitric acid to lower the PH number. But instead of going down it went up! Dazed and confused I continued to add Nitric acid and the number continued to climb. What the f-ck!! In desperation I sent out a call to my new online collodion friends and was told I needed to calibrate the meter. Duh!! I thought it was already set up. With some effort I was able to do that. Then I rechecked my silver nitrate PH which was 2.5....F-CK!!  I ran back to YouTube and dug out a video Borut Penterlin made about boiling your silver bath. In the video he screwed up his bath by adding too much Nitric acid just like I did. His fix was to put in baking soda (make it more alkiline?) to bring up the PH. You then measure the PH and when it is 4 you sun the white gooey mess. When I added the baking soda the PH went back up to 4.2. I now have it sitting outside in a beaker with paper towel to stop the bugs from going swimming. I am hoping the bath will eventually clear as Borut promised. It might take several days to do that.

So that is the bad part. The good is that I made up a second brand new bath of silver nitrate. I was able to use the gravity meter to get a 9% solution. The PH was right around 4 (4.2) which was good. I then made up some vinegar based iron developer, that went well. I am soaking a aluminum plate with collodion on it which you need to do with a fresh silver bath, forget what that is called. I also adapted the Graphic 1234 holder (kinda) to hold a 4x5 aluminum plate.

A confusing day, but a learning day. Lots yet to lean before I start making the 35x35 inch plates! This folks is going to be INTERESTING!

Wet Plate Ghosts Reawaken....BOO!!!!

Well with the encouragement and help of many folks online, especially at the Collodion Bastards facebook page. Many world class photographers have jumped in and helped me.

Today I have re-woken my long dead Bostick and Sullivan wet plate chemistry kit (4 years old?).

I am going to try and do some small 4x5 aluminum plates! Just going to shoot some trees around my home. These chemicals have been sitting in my darkroom cupboard (cool dark place) since I first took a quick dip into wet plate after my Jody Ake workshop in Victoria 5 years ago. Now I return to that world. Eventually the hope is to be doing 35x35 inch ambrotypes all over Canada for the "Kanata". First thou lets try shooting some trees in the back yard! Brick by brick builds the grand cathedral.

I need to help my chemistry along, it has been dormant too long! I sunned and filtered the silver nitrate bath. I will also check the PH and the specific gravity (needs to be 9%). This is the first time I am doing any of this stuff. I learned from online sources and from Quinn Jacobson's wonderful wet plate books. I am also going to mix up fresh developer, I got the Ferrous Sulfate (Iron) I needed for that yesterday. Also have distilled water, white vinegar (for vinegar style developer) and new lab 1000ml glass bottles to use. I hope the old rapid fix is still good. If not I can make up some from my darkrooms Ilford supply.

I also found chemicals I did not know I had! You know you got too much shit when you find 3.8 liters of Glacial Acetic Acid in your cupboard that you did not know was there! I have no idea where I got it, but it was there in a box. I also have a small bottle of Nitric acid (for adjusting the PH in the silver bath) from Bostick and Sullivan that I did not know about. Seems I have more chemistry than I thought. That is what comes of almost 40 years of collecting (since I was 14).

I will also need to adapt a "Graphic Film Pack" I got free a while back for the 4x5 plate.  By the end   of the day I hope to have something to post. Hope hope hope!! Wet plate can be very finicky!

The collodion is 4 years old so who knows what that will be like, probably VERY slow. I am not capable and do not have the chemicals to mix up fresh collodion so I will make do with what I got. There are also a few bottles of unused stuff I bought at some point.

The adventure begins!!! Wish me luck!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ambrotype: Unknown Woman 2

Have started collecting these mysterious women from the past, all of them are wet plate ambrotype images. This ambrotype is a bit damaged but cheap, and mysteriously cold and indifferent. The cost was $11 USD plus shipping. Who was she? What happened in her life? This portrait was probably made around 1860-1880.

Here is the FaceBook post I wrote about this sames subect:

$11 USD for this damaged ambrotype of a long forgotten life. Picture is probably from around 1860-1880. Who was she? Whatt was her story? She seems harsh, even angry in this photograph. It would be cool to be able to travel back in time and have a conversation with her, learn about her life, learn what she felt, how she thought. This is the second of my collection, will try to get more of these UNKNOWN WOMEN AMBROTYPES in the future. They can travel with me as my forgotten friends when I do the "Kanata" wet plate project. Will have to attach them to the walls of the mobile truck darkroom some how. Maybe with their ghostly, assistance-help I can get that project done!

Unknown woman ambrotype

Video Links: Penticton Art Gallery

Did a search of "Penticton Art Gallery" on YouTube and came up with these fun videos. There are many more on YouTube, go figure! This gallery seems to be very popular and quite a going concern. I am not seeing a lot of photography in these vids, but there certainly are a lot of creative people talking about their art.
Penticton Art Gallery Video 1
Penticton Art Gallery Video 2
Penticton Art Gallery Video 3

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Luther Gerlach's Current Wet Plate Darkroom Vehicle

Was communicating with the great wet plate photographer Luther Gerlach on facebook last night. I guess he also owns a Nikkor Apo 1780mm F14 lens. Luther forwarded this photo of his current vehicle wet plate darkroom to the discussion message board, he can make up to 5x7 foot plates in it. In a series of posts Luther shared with me and others he told us this is the 4th such vehicle he has used. You can see one of the earlier vehilces in my all time favourite YouTube video about the making of a mammoth wet plate photograph of the "Three Graces". I have watched that video a couple of dozen times (link below).

Luther Gerlach's current wet plate darkroom-camera truck
"Three Graces" Photographed By Luther Gerlach

Facebook Post: Possible Exhibition-The Cost Of Dreams

Possible Exhibition

Got news of a last minute possible show for "Families of the Dump" Hope it works out, this might be the largest and nicest gallery I have shown in, The Penticton Art Gallery. Not sure it is going to work thou as my Thai trip might be in way. That is what happens when you take long trips (6 months), you see lots of stuff there, and miss lots of stuff here! I have spent about 3 years of my life in Asia, that was great but I missed 3 years of my life here in Canada. I would really like to have 3 more years with my father, who died Feb 22, 2015. Pursuing your dreams always come at costs.