Shooting steampunk style wet plates handheld

Feb 20, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Shooting steampunk style wet plates handheld

Feb 20, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Shooting wetplate is a bit of a feat all by itself. Sure, it’s getting a little more common than it was a decade or two ago, but it’s still not all that easy, especially if you want to do it well. Photographer Markus Hofstätter is no stranger to large format wet plate photography, but he’s had a burning desire to shoot it handheld. Obviously, the giant plate camera he uses in his studio is a little large for this type of thing, so he went on the hunt for something a little more manageable.

YouTube video

When Markus’ new camera arrived, it needed a little work. And the video documents his journey through receiving, restoring and then shooting with his “new” alm0st-100-year-old camera. On opening the box, Markus was greeted with a number of interesting artefacts, including the original tripod, as well as a camera catalogue from 1927 that included the camera model he’d purchased.

After having no luck finding suitable plate holders for the camera, he had to design his own. He turned to 3D printing for his solution. The mixing of old with new technology is always fascinating to me, and it’s wonderful how modern 3D printing technology can actually help with something like this. Even if it did take 8 hours to print.

He also needed to 3D print several more parts, including a hotshoe mount for his flash trigger, and a couple of other components. This may be handheld, but Markus still needed 6-7,000 Watt seconds of flash power.

Markus chose a steampunk themed shoot, with double exposures. They’re very cool and being able to go handheld offers a lot more creative options with his wet plate photography.

I keep threatening to give wet plate a go, but I think I might finally have to do it this year. I don’t have quite the 6,000Ws that Markus has, but I do have a 3,000Ws strobe. I’ll just have to use it a little closer to my subject.

You can see some more of the images from this session over on Markus’ website, along with some regular digital photographs of the individual scenes used to make the double exposures.

Images used with permission.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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4 responses to “Shooting steampunk style wet plates handheld”

  1. W Douglas LeBlanc Avatar
    W Douglas LeBlanc

    Ummm nope. keeping my buncha monies, kthx.

  2. Markus Hofstätter Avatar
    Markus Hofstätter

    Hey John,

    thanks so much for featuring my journey!
    3000W are more than enough if you use standard reflectors pretty close. It is the softbox and the grid that needs that power. Even with a beauty dish you should be ok with 3000. Only if you shoot bigger plates, like 30x40cm it could be a challenge :)

    best,
    Markus

  3. MH Photography Avatar
    MH Photography

    Thanks John for featuring my journey!!

  4. suruha Avatar
    suruha

    How cool! Was the plate ‘copied’ with a 3D copier? Looks like it.
    Thanks for sharing this adventure! It’s neat!