A few weeks ago the photography department of the University of South Australia arranged for an American photographer to come over to run a Tintype workshop at the University. His name is Will Wilson . I didn’t participate in the two day workshop but my friend James was an assistant to Will. On the last day James asked me to come in so he could take a portrait of me- the result is above. The plate is 8×10 in size and has great detail. Its amazing all the freckles and sunspots it captured on my face. Will was a really lovely guy and a great photographer.
Over the year I have been working on a few bodies of work using the wet plate collodion process, with very much a love-hate relationship. It is a really amazing and beautiful process when done correctly-but getting a photograph that you are happy with can be a up hill struggle at times. This ‘leaf shadow’ is one of my favourite images I have created with wet plate this year. It is only small- the size of the leaf- but it is bright and detailed.
Today James and I turned our studio at uni into a giant pinhole camera so we could watch and photograph the amazing transit of Venus. It was so unexpected as it was forecaste to be cloudy all day but when we woke up it was clear and sunny! So, perfect weather to view the transit!
We thought it was fitting to capture this once in a life time (or twice if you saw it in 2004-which neither of us did) event with the unique 19th Century Wet Plate process.
This is my attempt at capturing it (James got a better one). You can see the shadow of Venus on the bottom left of the sun. The line down the center (or weird looking mountains) are just an effect of the chemicals.
We were able to see the transit from about 11am until it completely passed around 2pm. Word got around the art school and we had a whole heap of people knocking at our door to see the event! This made it a bit frustrating at times to get an exposure-but it was lovely to see the enthusiasm people had for it and their amazement at the experience of the camera obscura!
If you not sure what the Transit of Venus is (like I was about a week ago) here is the Wiki definition:
A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. The duration of such transits is usually measured in hours (the transit of 2004 lasted six hours). A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. While the diameter of Venus is more than 3 times that of the Moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, because it is much farther away from Earth.
Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The periodicity is a reflection of the fact that the orbital periods of Earth and Venus are close to 8:13 and 243:395 commensurabilities.
So all the chemicals have made it to the Island to get started on tintypes!
We have done some tests at uni (see the mug shot at the top)
and yesterday James and I made a little ‘portable’ darkroom, so that I am able to do some work in and around the reserve next to our house.
Its a little tight and hot when working in there-but it gets the job done that’s for sure!
The tintype of the trees was the shot that I managed today (its even lovelier in real life).