Collodion Triple Play

Ok so I have been quiet as of late. The truth is, I have not had much to talk about as far as photography goes. Other than reading a biography on George Eastman, and still making a mess of japanned plate baking, things have been quiet on the photography front.

Well, that is until today! Recently I have felt that wet-plate image making is picking up steam as far a popularity goes, and I run across more and more photographers/artists giving it a go. Heck, I am one of these people, two years ago I had no idea how tintype was made!

So today I found myself at the local books store and I picked up three photography magazines, Blind Spot, LensWork, and View Camera. Because I was in a hurry I did not bother to look between the covers of these publications before I bought them which is not very normal for me. Once home I began to thumb through the pages of the first magazine in the stack and was impressed to see some interesting wet-plate tintype work by Joni Sternbach.

I was happy to learn that Joni too is a former Coffer student like myself, but her images made me even happier. There is something about seeing modern people doing something pretty modern captured with collodion that really holds my attention. The collection of images by Joni that are in current issue of View Camera are of surfers in the environment that they love so much. I would have never really thought of setting up a wet-plate camera at the surfs edge, mainly because I am just not a beach person, but after seeing Sternbach’s images I might have to change my thoughts on that.

Before even looking through the other two magazines that I bought, I fired off an email to Joni to ask if she would allow me to link to one of her surf plates for this post. Before long I got a very nice reply, and permission for the link. Below you can see one of her plates. Check out the September/October 2007 issue of View Camera or Joni’s website for more of her work.

By Joni Sternbach

So finding one wet or dry-plate artist in a single publication is something that I still find special. But I was in for a surprise. If you read Blind Spot and LensWork you already know that there are also featured wet-plate artists in those publications this time around as well! If you seek out Blind Spot #36 you will find the Ambrotype work of Michelle Kloehn, and in LensWork you will see a platinum-palladium portfolio from collodion negatives by Tom Baril(who if you did not know was Robert Mapplethorpe’s master printer for fifteen years).

I cant say that my eyes are as excited by the work of these artists as by the work of Sternbach, but that is just because the subject matter is just not that interesting to me. The work of Kloehn is a bit too abstract for me (although I do really enjoy this 2007 5×7″ tintype), and although technaclly suberrb, Baril’s images are just too static for my liking, but that would be true for all still lifes right….I mean that is why the word “still” is used. Congradulations to these two photographers for being a part of the September/October wet-plate publication triple-play!

Along with my impending Iraq portfolio publication in Camera Arts next month, I would say that the fall of 2007 is shaping up to be pretty good for the photographic processes of the 1800’s. I really feel that in the coming years, as more wet-plate classes are held, and more digital photographers get tired of chasing the technology that the popularity of the process will continue to go. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Now only if we could get some excitement built up behind dry-plate work 😉

That’s it for this round. I hope that you find something interesting in the work of these artists. If you see something that moves you, drop them a line, I am sure that they would love to hear what you think of their work.

Now go create something!


~ by Phil Nesmith on October 12, 2007.

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