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2017 – Year of Photography

I hope everyone has had wonderful holidays and is enjoying the winter weather when it’s not too cold. Our holidays were quiet, as they are every year and like every year, I start wondering about my life and all the various things I could do to enrich it. So. This year is photography year. There. I said it, now there is no backing out.

Last year, due to a few house moves and consequently all of our stuff being in storage, I did not get round too much wet-plating, much to my chagrin. This year will be different; I dusted off my Model Mayhem account and created a casting call, to start photographing some plates in upcoming springtime. Yeah, I know, I don’t do cold weather shooting so I’ll have to be patient. I look forward to shooting a few fresh faces in an exciting new project. The theme was so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before! And – it will take me some time to finish it. Which could be a good or bad thing, we’ll see.

 

No, I’m not telling you what it is just yet! If you are truly curious, go find the casting call on Model Mayhem ๐Ÿ˜€

 

I did manage to do a couple of plates last year, but somehow they did not manage to enthuse me. They are just not exciting enough! For lack of a model, I used a small porcelain figurine that was left to me by my late great-grandmother as well as a small piece of a wasp nest that I found in the shed (and some wasps that were dead on the ground in summer). There was also a pepper, and a mortar and pestle providing the subject of the images.

 

I was mildly enthusiastic about this plate, where the top of the pepper emerging from the shadows almost looks like some monstrous stag beetle…This could be a fun image, after a bit of work.


I did get to do some medium format shooting last year though, with all that travel. I hope I’ll see more of that coming my way this year, that would be sweet! It’s a shame I don’t actually enjoy the scanning and retouching of my images all that much, it would make things a little easier. Hah! This time round, just like my belated holiday images in my last post, I have scanned them all small and did only the bare bone retouching on them. That way, I’ll finally not waste time on image that I’ll never use or will misplace at some point anyway. Again, time will tell if this is a good of bad way to go about it.

In my second round of scanning, I found a few beauties that I do not want to keep to myself. These are taken in the Chinese Garden in Frankfurt, Germany. It’s not a big garden, and it’s usually busier than this, but it certainly provided with ample opportunity for a few nice shots.

 

 

 

 

 

Wet Plate Collodion Weekend 2015 – Llanthony Priory, Wales

Last weekend of the 7th, 8th and 9th of August myself and a bunch of other wet plate photographers gathered ourselves in a field just besides the gorgeous ruins of the Llanthony Priory in Wales, UK. We met up on the Friday afternoon, or rather in the evening for those of us that needed to come from far flung corners of the UK and Scotland (and Geralt from the USA) and we would start our wet plating on the Saturday morning. Getting there almost proved too much of a challenge as my satnav decided to give up 30 miles before reaching the final destination. Lucky for me, I found someone with a map!

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Brilliantly arranged once again by Tony Richards (you can find his blog here), there was an easily accessible field for our dark tents, running water and a pub on site. I brought along my newly purchased and blacked out Eskimo 3 quickfish tent, a gift for my birthday this year, but still opted to shoot with my small half-plate camera as I know the camera are silverbath are in good working order and the plate holder is light tight. The amount of space in the Eskimo tent now means I can go up in plate sizes as I’ll finally have space for that silver bath I still mean to build!IMG_9944

We started our Friday in the pub, catching up with old and new friends. The camp site was fine, the grass wet and dewwy and the night just a bit cold. Ahhhh Camping in the UK, always a joy!

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the stars were out in force!

 

SATURDAY

On the Saturday morning, we get started. The first few plates seem to be ok. Not without their faults, but acceptable. The first few go into the bin or on the recycling pile. I get a couple of good plates, but I also see some issues that I’ve not had to this extent. On the plus side, I’ve had a lot less problems with crepe lines. Some plates work fine, and I’ll be proud to add them to my permanent collection.

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Like this ‘staining’

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I love this one!

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Digital snap of the same spot

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Technically OK, just a shame that the framing isn’t very good….

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As the afternoon heated up, we had a LOT of fogging issues

 

SUNDAY

I had gone to bed a bit earlier this time and set my alarm at stupid-o-clock in the morning, to start shooting around 6.45. Since most of us will be packing up and driving back home today, we won’t have the entire day. Starting with a view on the priory that was popular with my fellow wetplaters the day before, I tried to catch the early morning sun as it passes onto the ruins. After a test plate on glass (which was an utter failure) I tried another, which I messed up in my plate holder, hence the damage in the center. This was 40 seconds on f22. I have no idea why I got that watery crap on the edge of my plate though. My best guess at this moment is that I may not have developed as well as I could have, or rinsed as well as I should have.

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oops

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Attempt 2. The sun hits the priory. I digitally cleaned up the sky a little, but there’s still a lot going on there

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my Eskimo tent on the right – proud part of an eskimo tent line-up ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Giving up on that view as the sun had now gone behind a large stack of clouds, I moved my camera a little closer to my darkroom. The rest of this day would be overcast but also less hot, providing us with less contrast and less fogging issues.

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One of several attempts

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also a personal favourite

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The last shot of the weekend

 

The whole weekend has been an absolute joy – the location, the company, the activities, the food and drink at the bar…. even the weather. Good luck to Tony for trying to top this one next year, I know I’ll be looking forward to it!

Wetplating with Wil

Here I am sat, on my birthday, packed and ready for a fun weekend of wet plating frolicking in Wales, poised to go our for dinner with my husband, that I remember my wet plating session with Wil.

So I’ll just leave these here…..

 

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California Honeymoon

Monday, May 4th

We take our own car to Heathrow, as parking there for 2 weeks turns out to be about the same price as taking the train. No hauling suitcases for us and we arrive well on time. The moment we try to check in, it turns out that I made a stupid little mistake on Sean’s Esta, putting in an o instead of an 0, and he cannot be cleared to fly until we book another one on my mobile. This is super stressful but I am very glad that for the first time in a long while my phone just does what it’s asked to do.
About 12 hours later we are in the USA, collect our upgraded rental car and drive to the hotel. I am happy we brought out own satnav as I wouldn’t have wanted to navigate the streets of LA by map at night. Or by map at all! We arrive around 22:00 at the hotel.

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Tuesday, May 5th

After a rough and restless night we wake up silly early and cannot seem to go back to sleep. We get up at 6.30, have breakfast at the hotel around 7.30 and off for Hollywood. We see the walk of fame and sunset boulevard (which is a bit of a…dump) but we’re too early for most thing to even be open! After a much-needed coffee and a view of the Hollywood sign through a tourist binocular, we are off to see the sign closer-up.

We drive to the observatory through an amazing neighbourhood to a fantastic view over the city and hills. In the afternoon we go to the Citadel outlet shopping centre where we spend money on things we don’t really need; apart from my wetsuit ofcourse!

We have out dinner at a diner, which was a poor choice and more for convenience sake than anything else. Sean is hoping to join a local Kyukushin Dojo for their Tuesday training session tonight. He can, and does, and I for one am very impressed as I sit on the side trying really hard not to fall asleep….

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Wednesday, May 6th

We’re going to Disneyland!!! The ride over is smooth and after putting down $17 for parking we take the little tram to the entrance. The day start off great; The bobsled ride (Matterhorn) that Sean wants to go into, is closed for maintenance. We head into Toontown and get stuck in a ride that’s breaking down! Then we find out that pretty much all the big rides are closed – in all fairness, there was a list at the entrance, but we were way too excited to get in to look at it properly. We still have fun in several silly rides, have a blast with the great purchase of a pair ofย  Malificent horns (small children are easily convinced you are a villain on a day off) and going on Splash Mountain was a baaaad choice. The Indiana Jones ride, as well as the Finding Nemo submarines were an unexpected success. Then, as a final stroke of genius, the park shuts early!!!! At 19:00 things start shutting down, restaurants closing and everyone gets kicked out at 19:30…..Boooo!

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Thursday, May 7th

After a broken night due to an alarm going off, we get up, pack our bags and have breakfast. We fail to find the address to ‘It’s a wrap’ vintage shop on the satnav, so we point it toward Jack’s Surf outlet instead. We find it (disappointing), we find a secondhand bookshop nearby (also disappointing) and finally and most wonderful antique shop, filled with goodies. Ellie, the owner of Gramma’s Attic is lovely (and also went to the early-closing Disneyland yesterday) and we end up taking away a gorgeous black dress and a 1920’s-1930’s ice cream scoop. We then continue to Huntington beach where we have a great lunch at a ‘good food’ place and shop somewhat for bikini’s and surfboards. The weather is cloudy and a little chilly and there is no waves.

Later in the afternoon we take the I-5 south to San Diego. Along the way we managed to slow puncture the front tire, which we keep filling up and after checking into the hotel we exchange the car at Dollar rental. Since we’re already in that area we go into Old Town for some Mexican food.

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Friday, May 8th

Tonight, and this morning in San Diego it doesn’t just rain – it pours! Bad news for us is that this means that we cannot go surfing, unless we’d like to risk infections and/ or becoming very ill. Apparently, when it rains after a dry spell, all the crap from the city washes into the sea. Not only that, they get the rubbish from Mexico on top of that! Needless to say, we stay on dry land today. We talk a while with a surf dude at ‘the Surf Bunker’ named Travis, who recommends going to the Wavehouse further down the road. With our luck though, its closed! Closed!!

Thank goodness there is an arcade next door that is open and we throw some quarters at our misery. Afterwards, we drive to San Diego antique district where we have beautiful burritos for lunch / early dinner and shop around a little. Sean even manages to find some retro games to take home. We then ask the satnav to take us to a cinema, to have a look if there is anything we want to see perhaps, it guides us to Sea World… which is closed….and after resetting the directions to another cinema it doesn’t have anything we’d like to see.

Back at the hotel, we walk to a pizza place for cake and margaritas and quickly jump into the hotel pool before it shuts for the night.

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Saturday, May 9th

We check out of our hotel in the morning, drive to the same Japanese-run fruit-and-crepe place we had breakfast yesterday and then go on to a secondhand board shop we passed yesterday (you may have guessed by now that it was closed at that time). Sean finds himself a great board, just what he was looking for. Across the road there is a kite festival going on and we decide to join in by getting ourselves a dragon kite. We have ice creams, enjoy the show and the great weather for today the sun is out in force!

At around 13:00 we set our satnav back to LA, first to the Anaheim center of photography. We arrive around 16:30 – it looks abandoned and it’s… CLOSED! When the machine wants to charge us $14 for the privilege of undergoing this nonsense, I throw a little fit and get back in the car without paying the ticket. Lucky for me, a kind lady actually lets us out of the complex. We try the Getty instead. The satnav guides us to the rear of the building and after some cursing, swearing and honking by my fellow road users, we arrive at the Getty. Which is open!

We view their photography collection on display and after being thoroughly disappointed with the (second half of the) day, we pay for parking and head towards our hotel.

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Sunday, May 10th

Today, we’re off to the Rosebowl, a giant monthly fleamarket held in Pasadena, LA. We get up at 6:30, enjoy our complimentary breakfast, pack up and we’re on our way. We get there nice and early around 7:30 and dang! They did not lie when they said it was big! We decide to skip all the new stuff as we won’t have time for that and focus on the antiques and vintage clothing sections as those will be hard enough to cover as-is. There is some amazing stuff for sale on this market – some cheap, some bizar, some wonderful and everything suited for every budget. We manage to find some amazing things: I get a short dress with apple print, a small musical box with a dancing man, a flight suit and a full leather sports / weekend bag. Sean finds a retro skateboard deck, fully made of wood and a bunch of retro games.

With pain in my heart, we leave around 13:00 to head for Vegas.

Driving through the Mojave desert is not as I imagined it. It’s not actually very desolate with petrol stations around every other corner – and what’s up with those little fences next to the Motorway? Are they afraid people will wander off into nowhere? We stop a few times and reach Vegas around 18:00. We booked a room at the Luxor (the pyramid) and after refreshing ourselves, I change into my old new black Cinderella dress for dinner and we take a walk on the strip.

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Monday, May 11th

We agree that Vegas is a little like Disneyland meets Times Square; the buildings are mad and everything is expensive around here. Even though we are – I am – happy to have seen it, we’re also happy to have been here at night time. It looks so …. dead… during the day! We drive towards the North side of the strip to try and find the ‘World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop’ from the TV show. It’s a lot smaller than we thought it would be and after checking out the other shops as well, just across the street we set off for Death Valley.

Today’s drive will be out longest, according to our planning so wanting a fairly early start we leave Vegas at 11:00. Within the hour, there are plains with Joshua trees, mountain ranges and vast open spaces of hostile rocky terrain. We see sand dunes, salt flats, gravel pits, dust plain, dust devils and snowy hilltops. This is amazing and I am a little sad that I ‘only’ brought my medium format camera with me, instead of a proper proper old big one.

We get to our destination, a hotel at a half-way point at around 20:30, half an hour before reception closes for the night. We settle in with some store-bought cheesecake and a B horror movie. And I can tell you that watching a B-horror movie, set in a small town in the middle of nowhere is NOT a good thing to watch when staying overnight in a small town in the middle of nowhere!

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Tuesday, May 12th

After a restless night we pack up and go find breakfast in the nearest town. We have a look around some small shops, get a drink in the saloon (it has horse ties and swinging doors and everything!) and set course for the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park. Our hotel keeper advised us a different route than satnav wanted us to take, so we drove for many a mile through orange growing country before going off into the hills again. Along the way we stop at a lovely antiques shop where I manage to find a few stereo cards to add to my ever growing collection.

Going through Sequoia National Park is tough – an hours of slowly winding upwards, fortunately with stunning views to easy my pain. We reach the old man around 17:00, have a good look around – but not too good as it’s freezing cold up here – and then go find food and out hotel for the night.

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Sherman! Buddy!

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Wednesday, May 13th

We leave the hotel early in the morning, after some amazing complimentary self-cooked waffles. Today we’ll be setting course for Yosemite National Park. We drive a while and stop along the way at some random antique shops and I manage to find myself a beast of an X-ray lens. I don’t yet know how I should be using it – let’s just say it won’t be for original purposes. We reach Yosemite proper at around 13:00, drive a little further in but do not really have time to do a walk as we had planned as we’ll need to reach San Fran by the end of today. We also managed to miss inspiration point, but I suppose the Tunnel view vantage point more than made up for that. We also have our lunch there, on a log next to a stream….ahhh. Relaxation! It’s out first ‘normal’ sandwiches we have had here and the desert we got – a cake/custard vanilla/ banana whatever sort of pudding mix – is utterly delicious!

Then, we drive another 3+ hours to San Francisco, arriving at around 19:30. We check online for tickets to Alcatraz, but as it turns out, May is not a slow season around here and everything is sold out! The night tours are even sold out for the next 2 months! Oh well, we head out for a slice of pizza and dive into a book shop that’s open late.

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Thursday, May 14th

Today we’ll be spending the day in San Fransisco. Going up Polk street, we have breakfast at a ‘French’ Boulangerie place, having coffee from a cereal bowl (honestly, these Americans! ;-)) Visiting the Fisherman’s Wharf, we quickly determine this is NOT for us as the area is overly touristy and walking onwards to the Alcatraz landing dock we see that normal tours are booked up till Tuesday. Sean does receive some kind compliments on his wooden skateboard deck from the local bums, which is nice. We take a street tram towards Mission street – we are hoping to find a skate shop that can fit Sean’s deck with some trucks and wheels. We find one and he gets the work done.

We carry on a few blocks to a bunch of Antique and thrift stores before going towards Chinatown. Chinatown, like Fisherman’s wharf is unfortunately yet another tourist trap. We do sit in at a great teashop, having a full-on taster session with the salesgirl. We opted for dinner at the ‘Great Eastern Restaurant’, a place where apparently Barack Obama once had a Dim Sum take-away, or so the proudly displayed newspaper clipping tells us. We walk back to the Hotel UP the giant sloping hills, wandering what it would be like to live here (and having to carry shopping bags up this hill….and what if you forgot the butter….?)

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Friday, May 15th

We walk over to Lombard street ‘the crookedest street in the world’ – which was yet again, disappointing. We walk back to our hotel to check out and head over to Santa Cruz instead. Sadly for us, there’s not much surf going on. The winds are fierce (and a bit chilly). We park at the hotel, take a walk on the pier where we spot a group of sea lions chilling out, go over the boardwalk and have some hotdogs for lunch. The place we decided to sit down at, the picnic basket also does these amazing wild flavours of ice cream, most of them from local farms.

We take the car for a drive round some other beaches in the area and to a local surfshop to get Sean a boardbag. We visit the museum of surfing at the lighthouse and then lo and behold! There’s waves!! Sean heads out on his new board, we meet a new surfer in the area and help him out a bit. Afterwards, we head into the Santa Cruz main street for dinner and some late night shopping. I could get used to shops being open till 22:00!

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Saturday, May 16th

We have some complimentary waffles and head out to the beach. Again, no waves! Instead, we check out some of the sample sales advertised along the roads and make several unplanned stops for yard sales in between. At a local surfshop, Sean finds some tiny fins to go with his board and I find some vintage clothing to put on Etsy. Win!

We then drive South along the Coastal Highway, stopping countless times to take photos. When we arrive at our hotel for tonight, the historic Santa Maria Inn, it turns out that it played host to the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Eva Gardner, Judy Garland, etc etc. No=one famous stayed in our room, however. We take it easy for the night as there is nothing to do or see in this area.

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Sunday, May 17th

We get up quite late and re-pack all of our stuff. My hand luggage now has a killer weight due to that massive ‘radioactive’ lens I just ‘had’ to buy. We enjoy a continental breakfast and set off to Venice beach, where we booked the last hotel of this trip. We are hoping to meet up with James Cooper, one of Sean’s former colleagues who lives somewhere in the area. We arrive fairly early and after a bit of faff parking the car, we walk up to Santa Monica Boulevard, play a few games in the arcade and end up at ‘Hama Sushi’ in Venice for food. They are not the cheapest place, I’m sure, but their dishes seem quite original and sure were tasty!

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Monday, May 18th

It is our final morning and again, there are no waves! We have been unlucky on this trip with quite a few things, but thank goodness there was also plenty fun stuff and more than enough to make us want to come back!

We have out breakfast at a nearby cafe, complete with building site ambience. We grab the car, check out a few shops on the South side of Venice and then drive towards Santa Monica. There, we get bored real quick with the dime-a-dozen up-scale shops, but we do manage to find a massive charity shop. We have crepes for lunch and head back to the car. The car!! Where did that car go!!!!

PANIC STATIONS EVERYONE!!! WHERE DID THAT CAR GO!?!?!

Turns out we were looking in the wrong building…..sigh….

The rest of the day runs smoothly, dropping off the car, getting to the airport and faking my hand luggage really isn’t that heavy at all. Bye bye California! We hope to visit again soon!

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Wet Plate Photoshoot: Lara Alice

Straight after the shoot with Alp on a Tuesday, I would photograph Lara Alice on the Wednesday. She also knows all of the guys (Wil especially) and has a healthy interest in photography. I showed her the process and some of the plates that I did with the guys and we set to work. The BBC had predicted a foul day with nothing but rain, but we didn’t see any of that.

Our first plate did not come out well. It had the same dark spot as Alp’s test plate the day prior and the lighting did not favour her features, although the timing was good. I recalled a story told by one of my fellow wet-platers that he knew a beautiful girl that wouldย not photograph well on plate, and sincerely hoped that would not be the case here. We made some changes with regards to the pose and location, which made a world of difference!

What I really loved about this shoot was not just Lara (although she was rather lovely) but having to think on your feet, and the fact that she looks so different in the various images. The images were taken on a no-brand 1/2 plate camera with a Dallmeyer lens, mostly on f5.6 between 8-12 seconds.

 

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test plate on glass

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second plate on glass, the pose is much better but the technical side is not

 

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third plate on metal

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Fourth plate on Glass. Darn those too-dark-darkboxes!

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Gotta love a flower crown!

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My favourite plate of this shoot. The actual plate has a lot less contrast than this. Shot on glass

 

 

 

Wet Plate Photoshoot: Alp

Alp was introduced to me through Calvin and later it turned out he is also friends with Wil and Varun. We would take out shoot in the afternoon and lucky for us, the weather was as beautiful as an October day could be, albeit a bit chilly.

The only plate that would not come out well from this session was our test plate, due to the pose being a bit ‘common’ and the plate had no real sparkle. Some small little tweaks and the second plate was a great improvement, but then he spotted the swords! Neither of us had anticipated him going bare-chested – it being quite nippy and all – but he went there! The portrait we took at a shady spot in the cemetery and I completely adore it – the pose, the light, the crispness…. all of it! Then, Alp kindly agreed to let me have a go at photographing his fangs and even though it did not fully work as intended, it was good practice. The last plate of the day however, steals the show in it’s sheer over-the-top-ness; I shall have to find a nice spot in my house to hang this one ๐Ÿ˜‰

The images were taken on a wooden no-brand 1/2 plate camera using a Dallmeyer lens, mostly on f5.6 at around 8 seconds.

 

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test plate

 

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plate 2, a little more vintage thug-ish

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Time to bring out the props!

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Possibly my favourite portrait to date

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we tried to get the fangs in by using an apple

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And one more go with the sword. I still believe it’s missing the maidens and mullet ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 

Love Lacock photo competition

After the wet plate weekend in Lacock I entered my last image into their local competition, category ‘traditional photography’- and I had a reply!

 

“Hello,
>
> I am delighted to say we have chosen your photograph as one of the 5 finalists in the Traditional Photography category of the Love Lacock photography competition.
> Your image will be on display in our grounds from 4 October โ€“ 2 November.”

 

Huzzah!

 

Go and see it at the Abbey – I am tempted to go for myself just to see it displayed, but it’s a 3.5 hour drive!

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lacock/

 

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Wet Plate Photoshoot: Wil & Varun

Just after the last wet plate weekend in the Peak District, I photographed two friends on consecutive days. They both know Calvin (see his shoot here) from their weight lifting club and Calvin had been kind enough to recommend me for a shoot.

 

On the Tuesday, It was Wil Solano. I have to admit I was pleased to meet him. A polite, intelligent and somewhat soft-spoken man, he seemed enthusiastic about the photographic process and his plates came out better than many I had tried before. Maybe it was because of the great weekend we have had recently, or maybe I am getting a bit better with timing, pouring etc. but also the fact that strong men with beards seem to capture well in this process. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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On the Wednesday I would meet Varun Choda, a big fella, easy to smile with a good sense of humour, with an equally impressive beard. Maybe I shouldn’t be photographing people with beards – I’m having serious beard-envy! Can you believe that this guy is still single? I’m loving how the images we captured all seem to be a blast from the past – we started with a test plate with just his arms folded, which led to ‘you look like you should be holding a massive hammer’ to: ‘ I only have this one!’. He told me he likes art and to paint, so we did another version with brushes, which I believe came out better. His portrait came out as well as Wil’s the day before and he kindly agreed to sit for one last plate. He looked quite the sight in the middle of a cemetery sitting at a tiny table staring intently into the lens!

 

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Varun with hammer

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Varun with brushes

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Varun portrait

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The bad guy in a 1970s Hong Kong Movie?

 

 

 

Wet Plate Photoshoot: Hisui

Right after the wet plate weekend at Lacock Abbey (see my previous post) I had planned to photograph a Cambridge based model called Hisui. I had found her profile via Purpleport.com and asked her to shoot with me. She agreed and we set our date on the 5th of August. With a day of work in between the weekend and the shoot, I did not have much time to prepare and unfortunately, it showed!

On my last day of the wet plate weekend, I noticed my collodion thickening up and showing more crepe lines than on the day before. I did mix up some fresh fix and developer, which were fully depleted.

Hisui arrived with her partner, spot on time. After explaining the process to them, we chose a few spots on the cemetery to shoot. I took a few Medium format film shots in between on my Rolleiflex (I must have had an inkling of what was to come) and we shot 6 wet collodion plates in total. Out of the six, there were two clear winners – which then both peeled off the plate! I chose to scan another 2, which I thought were OK, not as strong in form and execution as the 2 destroyed ones and 2 film stills. The film images I believe are good studies, but perhaps not final products. That will teach me to step away from digital….

Hisui, thank goodness, was patient and professional throughout the day and very understanding even after I let her know what happened to the plates!

 

The best 2 plates of the shoot *cringe*

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The second best 2 plates of the day

 

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The 2 best film images

there is a lot I like about the second image where Hisui flicks up the skirt, but it lacks the separation before fore- and background in the skirt that it needs to make it a true classic stunner!

 

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Wet Plate Photoshoot: Weekend at Lacock Abbey

On the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of August 2014, ten wet plate photographers would gather from all corners of the UK to spend two days at Lacock – once the home of Henry Fox Talbot- and I was pleasantly surprised to be invited (Thanks Tony & Mark). After a gruelling drive on the Friday afternoon I arrived at the Picadilly camp site well on time. The owner, Peter, is a little peculiar but friendly enough. I pitched my tent and met most of the others at the Red Lion pub in Lacock village.

On the Saturday, we were met with rain, more rain, heavy rain, proper showers, downpours and more such fun. Driving up to the Lacock Abbbey, we met Roger Watson, the curator of the Fox Talbot Museum who guided us onto the site. Marquis and tents were pitched in record time, darkboxes erected and cars and vans unloaded before starting the day proper. Lucky for us, the rain cleared later in the morning and the burning sun that followed made for some …. interesting …..shooting conditions!

 

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I started my photography in the cloisters as I fell in love with the light the moment I laid eyes on it. Both plates here have an exposure of around 1-1.30 minutes at f4.5ย  and look to have suffered from collodion drying before development.

 

Sacristy

 

Some plates were a little less successful, such as the two below. The fogging on the plates may have come from warm developer, warm silver, warm plates, drying plates…..

 

The Chapter House

 

The Chapter house

 

This image, taken from the cloister walkway, I tried about three times before I settles on this one, and ‘perhaps it was not to be’. There are more than a few subjects that will be very hard to capture in collodion due to very low or very high contrast. This particular scene had everything going for it in colour, but falls completely flat in this beautiful process….Also note the two darker spots on the top right. These are actually collodion drying spots where I had my fingers whilst supporting the plate. Mark Voce told me this is a myth – but it was clearly happening to me! You will be able to spot some of these black marks on other plates as well.

 

Cloisters

 

I had taken several other plates on the day, from outside the building, keeping the Abbey in full view – which all failed. Oh well.

On the Sunday, the weather had dried up completely. We rode in convoy back to the site, set up and started afresh. This first image was shot into the sunlight, which might not have been the best choice! I shielded the lens with my hand from a slight distance, but the haziness due to the brightness of the light is clear.

 

Entrance archway

 

Slightly less conventional, I then tried to capture the tap we used to take fresh water for rinsing our plates. I loved the contrast between the strict lines of the tap and pipes, the grittiness of the old wall and the lush succulence of the plants. Again, it didn’t quite go as planned. I left myself only a small space to move in and it’s noticeable that the first attempt at the top is much better framed than my second one. Apart from that, The grain of the wall and the detail on the plants – their shadows being quite deep – might be something not easily captured in one plate.

 

tap

tap

 

Next, I moved to the Abbey walkways. Initially, I wasn’t going to take this image as it seems too obvious a shot, but I’m happy I did. The first attempt worked well at 1:30 at around f8, and dried well after – but it seemed so dark when wet, that I decided to shoot a second one at 2:00 at f8. The second plate is so beautiful and silvery on the plate and I am completely in love with it! The white lines going through the middle are left by people going into the abbey, the open door can be seen on the end.

 

Cloisters hallway

Cloister hallway

 

Staying within the cloisters, I decided on a hard shot to take and I set up at the Abbess stairs. There is a window and stairs and no room to more back from them. The stairs being still very dark, regardless of the window right next to them. I do like how this image somehow looks like I used flash lighting. The exposure was 2 minutes at f4.5.

 

The Abbess stairs

 

One of the last shots I then set up was in one of the darkest rooms in the cloisters. There is quite a fair amount of space, before you get to 3 coffins in front of a latticed window. Most visitors just cast a glance at the coffins and pass through to the next space, making in a perfect subject in a busy National Trust property. I set up in the corner and it took two attempt to get this plate. With the lens wide open at f4.5, it took 2:30 minutes and quite a bit of over development. I am sorry/ happy to say that this plate didn’t scan amazingly well and the original looks a lot better!

 

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The weekend was more than amazing and even though the weather didn’t always play ball, the organization, location and company more than made up for that small hindrance. Many thanks to all that came along and made it so enjoyable!

 

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