Wet Plate Photoshoot: Chris Thomas

A couple of months ago, I met Chris at one of my blogger meetups in Cambridge and we got talking about photography and wet-plating. Chris, a microscopy photographer himself, expressed interest in having his portrait taken in this technique – especially since he was the portrait photographer for a recent gathering of the Huntingdonshire Business Network. The aim would be to take a day in March where the sun would be out – a mean feat in the UK at the best of times – and to photograph Chris with his tablet and microscope, showing the old cemetery outside my house in the background.

We set the date for the 24th of March and kept out fingers crossed. The day itself turned out to be cold but sunny and after a few test plates in the shade and one in the sun, we settled on shooting when a cloud moved just in front of the sun. Overall the light was more pleasing and the shadows less harsh, whilst still retaining some of the brightness and speed we needed to get the shot. Not unimportantly, Chris would not be freezing in the shade or squinting against the sunlight.

The longest exposure times we had were 20 seconds in the shade, which came as no surprise. The final image though, was taken at 6 seconds with the lens set to f8. I love how Chris and his instruments are clear but we can still see the vague outlines of the gravestones behind him. If I were to be critical (and I usually am) I would take this shot again at 7 or 8 seconds, develop slightly less long as the image film has gotten dense on the top, and get the eyes in better focus. Without a headrest at this moment though, I am quite pleased with how this came out.

Chris has written about our session in his blog: miltoncontact.blogspot.co.uk. You can find it here.

Thanks to Chris for providing the header and for digitizing this final plate!


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