The weird lens guy came to my studio to shoot wet plates

Jul 3, 2019

Markus Hofstätter

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The weird lens guy came to my studio to shoot wet plates

Jul 3, 2019

Markus Hofstätter

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Some time ago I did a project together with Mathieu Stern. Back then, we communicated via Skype. Because of that, I was super happy to hear, that I would finally get to meet him in person.

This visit was for a portrait shooting on a collodion wet plate and we did also a short wet plate workshop. After the videos from Mathieu and myself, you can see all the pictures and read more about the shootings

YouTube video
YouTube video

The portrait of Mariel

We started to shoot at noon with the typical harsh midday sun. Normally I prefer to shoot at a place with shadow at this lighting conditions, because the old lenses don’t like front lighting. Because it was super overcast after I set up everything, I decided to shoot immediately.

I should have known it better, right after I came with the plate holder out of the darkroom, the harsh sunlight was back. So the first result was devastating. The typical lens flare turns into a super low contrast overexposed wet plate. This kind of setbacks costs lots of time and is a stress factor during shooting with a limited time frame.

Old lenses don’t take lens flares very well

I did the next exposure in a place with shadow. Now everything went very well and I could produce a collodion wet plate with the typical swirly bokeh and Mariel with the antique chair as the main attraction in the middle. During varnishing of the plate, we got a hot surprise.

Second try in the shade
18x24cm collodium wet plate – Dallmeyer 2b lens- with the right lighting everything went fine

Mathieu Stern the magic lens guy

Mathieu was next to pose for my camera. I wanted to photograph him with an old lens that hangs on a nylon string. So it looks like he is magically hovering the lens.

“The weird Lens guy doing his magic”

A lot of money on a piece of string
Mathieu Stern the magician

Mathieu was wearing a blue shirt. The reason this blue shirt appears very bright on the wet plate is because of how this process captures light. It is only sensitive to blue light, that means red becomes dark and blue very bright.

You can still see the nylon string on the wet plate, but exactly this fits very well to Mathieu’s typical DIY work with his weird lens experiments

Shooting preparations
21x27cm collodium wet plate – lens Voigtländer Universal Heliar 360mm f/4.5 – The weird Lens guy doing his magic
I like the digital version also a lot
The proud owner of a collodion wet plate

In Mathieu’s video, you can see how time-consuming a wet plate shooting can be. It’s very important, that everything is setup as perfect as possible for this one exposure. I like that a lot about this process. Taking time to create art.

The Workshop

In the end, Mathieu got a short introduction into wet plate photography. He poured his first collodion wet plate. We used the polaroid Miniportrait Camera for our image – see everything about it in the video

Safety first
Polaroid Miniportrait Camera – Lenses with F8 needs 6000 Watt of power behind a soft box

The day ended with a typical Viennese meal.

@Mariel and Mathieu – The shoot was great fun, thank you very much for coming and having a nice time together.

About the Author

Markus Hofstätter is a professional portrait, events and sports photographer based in Austria. He has a passion for analogue and wet plate photography. He loves travelling to visit new places and meeting new people. You can find out more about him on his website or blog, follow his work on Instagram or Facebook or reach out to him through Twitter. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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