Posts

Tarot: Death and the Emperor

With 2017 declared as the ‘year of photography’, I decided to challenge myself and start a new project. It would give my work some much-needed focus and perhaps even give myself an excuse to actually do some work!

The theme I landed on was ‘Tarot’ – I could not tell you how I thought of it, but it just clicked one day, riding the subway home. It is a subject that has always had my interest and it would require thought, planning, models and a semi-streamlined vision to bring something new to the card images. The main goal being: to produce a body of work with some coherence whilst practicing my technical abilities. And to create a few kick-ass images along the way obviously! There will be 22 opportunities to do so while working on the major arcana, then a further 16 for the minor arcana – and then there are the suit cards (lower numbers).

Let’s see how far we’ll get within a year, shall we?

I posted a casting call on Model Mayhem and got a lot of initial interest. Mostly from the guys! As the weather did not warm up until April, I had to wait a while before getting stuck in.

The first shoot would be with Mark (ModelTO, Model Mayhem #3385858) who would model for my Death card. Mark’s only stipulation for any shoot is that his face cannot be shown. No Problem! There were a few small technical hiccups – I had lines going through all of my plates. They are not terrible, but mildly bothersome. I later found out that these were caused by putting the freshly poured plate into my silver bath too quickly – a problem I had never *ever* had before moving to Canada!

Death: card number 13

Giving all that is superficial and concentrating on what is basic, fundamental and truly important. An End. Symbol for beginnings, endings, change, transformation or transition. The flip side: resistance to change, being unable to move on.

We went with a fairly traditional ‘hangman’ look, and an ‘angelic’ one for the 3rd image.

 

 I personally really like the last image as it is more original than the other two – even though I like those as well. Mark had a tough time sitting still for that particular image as the temperatures were still not that high (around 10 -12 degrees Celcius) and he was barely clad in the shade! We may have to arrange for another shoot at some point and re-take that image.
 
The second shoot would be with Craig (Craigtwo, Model Mayhem #3302539), who I cast as the Emperor. Craig has an amazing strong look to him, and I feel we put that to good use in a strong persona. The dreaded lines did show up a few times during this shoot, but overall it was camera angles and movement / suggestion of movement that proved most challenging in this shoot.
 
The Emperor: card number 4
 
A symbol of Mars, sterility of regulation and unyielding power. The top of the secular hierarchy, the ultimate male ego, the absolute ruler of the world. Symbol for authority, father-figure, structure and a solid foundation. The flip side: domination, excessive control, rigidity and inflexibility.
 
We decided on a modern take of the ruler: the business man in suit and put emphasis on the flip-side of the card.
 
The emperor tarot shootThe emperor tarot shootThe emperor tarot shoot
 

 

 

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 😀

 

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!

IMG_9907

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!

IMG_9949

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.

159-1

Like this ‘staining’

154-3

I love this one!

IMG_9915

Digital snap of the same spot

164-8

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

150-1

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.

163-7

oops

158-6

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

IMG_0018

my Eskimo tent on the right – proud part of an eskimo tent line-up 🙂

 

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.

156-4

One of several attempts

151-2

also a personal favourite

157-5

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…..

 

112-2

 

111-1

114-3

Kyokushin! Osu!

On the weekend of the 11th of July, my husband Sean (I still have to get used to that!) had a 1-day karate seminar with his sensei Brett. They asked me to shoot some images during the day and even to bring my wet-plating things for a few images.

We set off early and headed to their normal training location just outside Bury St Edmunds. They put the mats out in the hall, waited for everyone to arrive and started their warming up. In the meanwhile, I had set up my darkroom and chemicals and snapped some images of their group, on film and with my digital camera. I do still own a digital camera and what better use than a full-day sporting event?

They then went for a jog and workout sessions in the park next to the training hall. I had no idea in advance that I was supposed to run with them and I had not prepared for it; my leather shoes were soon biting into my feet, my arms weirdly clamped to my sides whilst trying to keep my 2 cameras in check – and that’s without mentioning my absolute lack of any sort of physical fitness! Huffing and puffing in the heat of the day I managed to get some nice shots of everyone in action and when they had their lunch break they gave me just enough time to shoot 1 wet plate of the full group. Luckily I had tested my chemicals the day before and I was only a little bit off on the timing! Yes!!

The afternoon program would take place at a friendly nearby gym where they would do bag work, so we packed my chemicals away in a speed-checked military drill and rode to the gym in convoy where I shot more film and digital images till quitting time around 16.30. I can honestly say this was the most intense shooting session I had had in a while, perhaps I should pick up a sport and build up some stamina!

 

_MG_9148-2

Their regular Sunday training hall – complete with blue and pin…. OOPS I meant BLOOD red mats.

Kyokushin by Yvette Storey (6)

Mac (centre) and Brett (Centre left)

_MG_9294-12

*pant * pant * pant *

119-5-4

Sean <3

_MG_9594-49

Best team photo *EVER*

_MG_9488-34

There were plenty of demonstrations throughout the day…

_MG_9601-51

…as well as work-out sessions..

_MG_9743-64

…and kumite (sparring).

Wet plate by Yvette Storey

During lunch, there was just time for 1 quick wet plate of the whole group. Even though I can see plenty of things wrong with it – I was very pleased with my 1-shot-1-kill plate on the day.

127-13-9

In the afternoon, instructions continued in the gym

Kyokushin by Yvette Storey (74)

Feel the burn!!

135-21-16

Kyokushin by Yvette Storey (91)

Training both balance and agility

Kyokushin by Yvette Storey (109)

There were a few rounds of hilarious fights in the ring

125-11-8

_MG_9945-79

But I think it’s fair to say that everyone was knackered at the end of the day. Well done everyone. Osu!!

 

 

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 😉

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.

 

143 small

test plate

 

142 small

plate 2, a little more vintage thug-ish

141 small

Time to bring out the props!

152 small

Possibly my favourite portrait to date

150 small

we tried to get the fangs in by using an apple

147 small

And one more go with the sword. I still believe it’s missing the maidens and mullet 😉

 

 

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 – 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/

 

untitled-91

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. 🙂

 

Wil

Wil

Wil

Wil

 

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!

 

untitled-124

Varun with hammer

Varun

Varun with brushes

Varun

Varun portrait

untitled-128

The bad guy in a 1970s Hong Kong Movie?

 

 

 

Wet Plate Photoshoot: Wet Plate Camping

In the last weekend of August 2014, Tony Richards organised a social wet-plate gathering for all those from the UK and Ireland. Wet-plating would be optional, having a pint in the local pub would not be! 🙂

After packing my gear, I drove for nearly 3,5 hours to the Bank House Farm Campsite in Derbyshire where I would meet with Tony Richards, Marc Voce, Mark Scholey, John Kiely, John Brewer, Kate Horsley and Violet, Sam Christopher Cornwell, Guy Brown, Kevin Lunham, Moo Pa, Tim Ingmire, William Cameron, Tony Lovell, Simon Harbord and Ray Spence. (Sorry if I missed anyone). The Friday night was a bit miserable and the camera’s remained hidden, us photographers opting instead to head to the pub for a meal and some drinks till the early hours. The campsite proved fine, with plenty of space – with the only downside being the distance to the toilet and shower block, which was a 5 minute walk. The little river that ran by it was very pretty and proved a popular subject for the plates.

The Saturday started off with much of the same as the Friday, occasional showers both light and heavy, but we set up regardless and started shooting. The whole day would remain overcast and we finished up like the night before: in the pub with food and drink. I managed to shoot around 10-12 plates on the day, of which I will keep 2. I learned a lot about judging light and development times this day and will need to keep an eye on my continuous over-development of plates.

 

This was my first set-up, it took me about 5 tries to get the exposure about right. The light kept changing, with the sun towards the lens – so the spot between the trees burned out amazingly quickly. I am fairly happy with this plate as I tried tin typing for the first time and the material is remarkably easy to work with. Thanks to Kevin from Wet Plate Supplies (http://www.wetplatesupplies.com/) for hooking me up! This plate was shot at 25 seconds at about f5.6 – f8.

113

 

This was my second set-up. Again, it took me a few plates to get the exposure right, but the balance on this plate is definitely better. I believe I came to 2.5 minutes at f8. The subject and composition, unfortunately, are not great. I scanned it, but this plate might be wiped.

 

115

 

For my third set-up, I just turned the camera round and took the same exposure. It had a lot of lines over the top, that only showed when the plate was dry – which are not great – and I am not overly keen on the composition. I scanned it, but the plate will be wiped.

 

116

This plate was just a complete guess. I saw the scene and wanted to capture it, but ideally, I would have come closer to it. There was a river in the way though…. I took this at 20 seconds f5.6 – and overdeveloped by about 15 seconds due to underexposure. This plate might look OK now, but the plate is very low in contrast and needed a lot of help in Lightroom. It will be wiped.

117

The last set-up of the Saturday was, again, that little current in the river and the trees behind it. I love that I managed to get the timing right and for once I did not overdevelop. This image is taken on trophy aluminium and it has to be my favourite of the weekend.

111

 

The Sunday proved a little better on the weather front and despite some people having to pack and leave earlier due to driving distances or being kicked out of their plush B&B, most kept shooting till well after midday before packing up themselves. The winds had picked up, most dramatically when it decided to pick up Mark Voce’s marquee and ditch it over the roof of Tony’s marquee tent. That day, I managed to shoot about 5 plates, of which I would keep 2. Having shot the river with varying results, I directed my attention to some of the attendees of the weekend.

 

131

John Brewer, master in antique photographic processes, turns his hand to the power of digital image capture

Mark's brand new Marquee tent took a dive

Mark’s brand new Marquee tent took a dive

 

I asked John Kiely if I could photograph him in his van. Not amazingly original, but John is a patient man that proves a great subject. The first plate came out… odd, but it was not the first time I had seen this happening on one of my plates. Unless there had been an 8 second hail storm I failed to notice, it had to be a chemical issue. I remembered I had used the same funnel for both my fixer and my silver bath…. oops! I quickly filtered the silver and the second plate came out much better. It got hit straight into the lens by a stray ray of sun though, so it was very overexposed. The third one came out well enough – still a little overexposed at 8 seconds f5.6 – but we decided to leave it at that.

119

 

118

 

For my last plates, I asked Mark Scholey to pose for me. The first one coming out well overexposed, this one was much better – again 8 seconds at f5.6. Unfortunately for both me and him, he must have moved a slight! Oh well….

I would have loved to have had more time to shoot some of the other amazing people at the gathering, but it’ll have to wait till next time. I will be looking forward to it!

112

 

 

 

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*

IMG_3196IMG_3197

 

The second best 2 plates of the day

 

untitled-102 untitled-103

 

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!

 

untitled-110 untitled-108

 

Portfolio Items