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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!