Wet Plate Collodion…not giving up :-)

Reading back this blog I realised it’s been one and half years ago since last collodion test…time for another one that means…
The last post has also been just over a year ago…time for a new one…also…

I’ve been incredibly busy with a lot of things, also photography, but on another level. First of all… I bought a house last year! I set a goal for myself to fix my housing problem with renting being too expensive on my own. I got very very lucky and when I put my mind to something…well…let’s just say I don’t easily give up 😉 But I was also very very lucky. I was able to buy the house I rented first. Utterly amazing! The chances were very slim and the alternatives really would not have been all that great…it’s of very special meaning to me. Miracles do happen! It will take quite a bit of work but that’s part of the fun. Most wonderful thing about this place, besides plethora of others, is that I have a working space! The house came with a garage attached to it, which wasn’t part of the rental version but it sure now is. I have expanded my darkroom there. I recently sort of finished it and finally am able to properly work with all the chemistry and have enough space to actually move around. So, after an unsuccessful test past Monday I was able to redo it today and ended up with images! As soon as I have another free weekend / day I will be shooting outside again. Needless to say I’m immensely looking forward to that!

Secondly, I have photographed more than ever before (I think), but mostly commercial. This has been quite a challenge in more than one way. New conditions for every shoot, adjusting to that and learning new things every time, make this really interesting. Shooting mostly with a Fuji X-T3 (autofocus ftw) with my reliable X-T1 as a backup. Godox AD200 as a portable (wireless!) studio light on location, awesome little device which you can use with heaps of accessories (properly thought-out system). Assignments vary from events to real-estate to corporate photography. Also important…it pays for shit. A lot of it so that’s good!

Thirdly, the Monochrom…well…that’s not going so well…I’ll spare you the details but it’s been sent back to Leica for the fourth time now…I hope this time I will get back something that actually works as it should…anyway, fingers crossed!

Fourthly, working towards a group exhibition that will open next month, on the 27th of february in Alter Schlachthof Eupen (BE) with the F68 photographers collective I joined a while back. I have visited a bit of first world war areas (Somme, Verdun) with my monochrom as I got triggered, firstly, by my visit to the Elzas in 2018, and secondly because Paul is also interested in visiting these areas and it sort of became a collective undertaking. These landscapes are, even on its own, quite fascinating. But when you dive into its history and you know what exactly is beneath your feet it gives the whole a different experience walking about. There have been so many killed during that war, such a dirty war being the first time poisonous gas has been used. So many bombs have been thrown, grenades, mines etc. And they are still there, lurking from underneath the ground, waiting for you to dig them up (or leave’m). So many still unexploded devices literally litter the grounds today. So many people buried on the battlefields, never been dug up. So much ground polluted from the chemical bombs. It will take between 300-700 years to clean everything up…

Dead Man’s Road, Pozières, Somme (iphone)

The more I learned about this war, the less it made sense (as if it ever does, but still). As a ww1 officer once said; “It’s not sending people to war, it’s sending people to die”. The woods in for example the Somme have been the backdrop of horrible battlefields. You can find the locations of these woods on old maps dating from around that period and you can look up these spots on google maps using satellite footage and find the forests are still there today. Of course back then they have been completely devastated by the war, but eventually grew back. They are filled with craters of the intensive bombing and also packed with what’s left of the trenches. When you start digging you’ll find a lot of things…grenades, shells, communication cable, barbwire, you name it. Sometimes you don’t even have to dig, just to keep your eyes open and scroll the surface. Walking there is like walking through a vivid and tangible history book.

The road alongside Bailiff Wood, Somme (iphone)

My main focus is the forests, as it always is, and I like to convey its sadness and eeriness. My images are never really happy so I hope people will feel slightly uncomfortable and with the exhibition sharing also the location of the shots I hope people will be triggered to look up their whereabouts and learn (more) about this war. I find it hard to get into my head that after ww1 we also deemed it necessary to have another round with ww2 (of course ww1 pretty much formed the grounds for ww2). Two generations war… For the love of all mankind I hope we get spared a third…

Onto the collodion testing…it’s winter here of course, the darkroom is not all that warm so chemistry is cold. First plates I did indoors (with new lights I have not really used before) didn’t go so well. Perfectly black plates implying chemistry-wise it should be fine. Today I tested outside. 30 seconds on f4,5…still perfectly black… second plate 4 minutes in silver nitrate instead of the previous 3 and an exposure time of 2 and a half minutes. Development time…1 minute…but an image appeared at last! No chemical fogging, it looks pretty good really. Probably exposure time has to be even longer to shorten development time.

Looking back at the first test I did here back in 2018 the contrast was insanely high, the images now look a lot better. Most important of today; fun it was! Looking forward shooting more, I just love doing this. I promise (also myself) that it won’t take another year  🙂

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