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31.08.2014:  Ciarán Walsh participates in a 1 day wet plate collodion workshop with Monika Fabijanczyk


In the wet plate collodion process photographs are created on glass or metal plates. The plates are coated and sensitised, exposed in a wet plate camera (or any camera that has been adapted to take a plate glass negative) and processed while they are still wet. Everything has to be done within 15 minutes or so, moving from the darkroom to the camera and back. It is a slow process where everything is made by hand, from preparing the plates and light sensitive material, through to developing, fixing, and varnishing the photographs.

The collodion process produces a negative which, if exposed on a blackened glass plate (an Ambrotype) or a metal plate (a Tintype) is reversed,  producing a one-off positive image. This technique creates stunning photographs, the combination of glass and metallic silver against a black background produces intriguing effects in terms of tone and texture.

The workshop was intensive and a little challenging according to Walsh. ”It’s 25 years since I have been in a darkroom but Monika took each of us through the process, calmly and efficiently.   Large format (4×5 inches) cameras were used with artificial and natural light to take portrait and still life shots ranging from 7 to 50 second exposures, Some worked, some didn’t but the excitement of seeing an image develop in the darkroom was something I had forgotten all about and it was a tremendous surprise on the day. The complexity of the chemical processes and the speed required to ‘get’ the image before the plate dries or overdevelops really makes one reconsider the work done by Timothy O’Sullivan and other photographers during the American Civil War.”

Highly recommended.

For more information:www.monikafabijanczyk.com