Mammoth Cave, Margaret River, Western Australia

Mammoth Cave, Margaret River, Western Australia


Beard on Collodion.

Possibly had my best session tintyping this week. My old mate Pete came by the studio to play model for me while myself and another friend worked out shot arrangements for a future video project.

It was one of those amazing sessions where things just worked out. Lighting was great, exposures were great, and even my experiments with reusing shot plates worked out better than expected. 

However all this was almost immediately erased when I went to varnish one of the plates and literally watched Pete’s handsome beard wash away before my eyes! The varnish was a little too ‘active’ and dissolved to plate on contact. I can tell you now that it was a pretty traumatic experience! Luckily I tried varnishing the weakest plate of the night first, so I’m still able to deliver a plate to Pete, albeit unvarnished at the moment. 

The real test will be next week when I open the studio up for a ‘Dudes Only’ night. You can bet the studio air will be thick will the smell of moustache wax!


Hannah in the Studio.
This session went pretty well. I’ve added a pair of 500w Bowens monolights  which I think has helped a little with the motion blur. There’s still a little movement to deal with and I haven’t worked out if it’s camera movement or model movement. The same goes with the focus - I’m not sure if the sitter moved between focus and exposure, or maybe the plate holder and the ground glass aren’t on the same plane. It’s all practice I guess and I feel the practice shows. Luckily I haven’t yet had a session that I feel went worse than the previous session, which is a good place to be I guess.
The movement blur / focus / general softness is getting me down though. I can’t afford to just throw more lighting gear at it, especially as access to the studio space looks shakey at the moment. Maybe a better bracing system is needed - even maybe something that’s integrated with the chair itself.
The ‘maybe’s of this process is so frustrating - when you consider the time and material costs of chasing down all the ‘maybe’s, they effort expended is a lot. It’s still worth it, and figuring this stuff out is part of the enjoyment of the process.
Anyway, time to get back to working out the next maybe.

Hannah in the Studio.

This session went pretty well. I’ve added a pair of 500w Bowens monolights  which I think has helped a little with the motion blur. There’s still a little movement to deal with and I haven’t worked out if it’s camera movement or model movement. The same goes with the focus - I’m not sure if the sitter moved between focus and exposure, or maybe the plate holder and the ground glass aren’t on the same plane. It’s all practice I guess and I feel the practice shows. Luckily I haven’t yet had a session that I feel went worse than the previous session, which is a good place to be I guess.

The movement blur / focus / general softness is getting me down though. I can’t afford to just throw more lighting gear at it, especially as access to the studio space looks shakey at the moment. Maybe a better bracing system is needed - even maybe something that’s integrated with the chair itself.

The ‘maybe’s of this process is so frustrating - when you consider the time and material costs of chasing down all the ‘maybe’s, they effort expended is a lot. It’s still worth it, and figuring this stuff out is part of the enjoyment of the process.

Anyway, time to get back to working out the next maybe.


New lensboard is in! It’s not pretty, or lightight, but it’s a start! #largeformat #vscocam

New lensboard is in! It’s not pretty, or lightight, but it’s a start! #largeformat #vscocam


A sweet shot of Eliza, one part of the band Patient Little Sister from Perth, Western Australia.

A sweet shot of Eliza, one part of the band Patient Little Sister from Perth, Western Australia.


Doing some midnight editing - I’m a little concerned that I’m too tired to trust my eyes, but the sleepy orbs are telling me this photo is fun enough to make the final cut…

Doing some midnight editing - I’m a little concerned that I’m too tired to trust my eyes, but the sleepy orbs are telling me this photo is fun enough to make the final cut…


Here’s a couple of tintypes from this weekends session. I’m still having real problems with patterns in the collodion and the varnish dulling the plates right down. With time I should eventually get it dialed in, but I’m already almost through my first batch of chemicals and a fair number of aluminium plates. A light leak has also developed in the Calumet, so I’ll have to chase that one down too.
For those interested, I’ll be on the lookout for a model one weekend fairly soon to be patient and sit for me while I experiment. Apply within!


My new project camera. A circa 1895 8x10 view camera, made by Rochester Optical & Camera Company.
The camera is definitely in a ‘used’ condition. There are significant scratches and gouges in the mahogany body and the brass fittings have a healthy patina, but almost all are there, and all work well. The saving grace is that the bellows look close to new and the ground glass is clean and intact. All round it will be a serviceable camera - when I can find a lens that will cast an image large enough to cover an 8x10 plate while still fast enough for silvered collodion.
The question now is how far do I go restoring it? I’ve started pulling it apart for a gentle cleaning and a once over with furniture polish. I’m unsure if I’ll polish the brass fittings at this stage. Restoring the brass is a large undertaking and the patina lends quite a character to the piece.
I also have to find a replacement handle for the top. One of this weekend’s jobs will be to find a cobbler or similar to make me a nice buckled leather loop to replace the decaying canvas strap and it’s covering of peeling electrical tape.
In addition to finding a suitable lens, I’ll need to source, or build a plate holder to fit the camera. There’s already a spring loaded back, so a modified double dark holder may suffice, or maybe I’ll look into a custom made unit. The need for a plate holder isn’t immediate though so I have time to mull that one over.
Stay tuned for more updates to come, and hopefully sometime in the future you’ll find yourself staring down the barrel of this beauty whilst sitting for a magnificently large wet plate portrait of your own!

My new project camera. A circa 1895 8x10 view camera, made by Rochester Optical & Camera Company.

The camera is definitely in a ‘used’ condition. There are significant scratches and gouges in the mahogany body and the brass fittings have a healthy patina, but almost all are there, and all work well. The saving grace is that the bellows look close to new and the ground glass is clean and intact. All round it will be a serviceable camera - when I can find a lens that will cast an image large enough to cover an 8x10 plate while still fast enough for silvered collodion.

The question now is how far do I go restoring it? I’ve started pulling it apart for a gentle cleaning and a once over with furniture polish. I’m unsure if I’ll polish the brass fittings at this stage. Restoring the brass is a large undertaking and the patina lends quite a character to the piece.

I also have to find a replacement handle for the top. One of this weekend’s jobs will be to find a cobbler or similar to make me a nice buckled leather loop to replace the decaying canvas strap and it’s covering of peeling electrical tape.

In addition to finding a suitable lens, I’ll need to source, or build a plate holder to fit the camera. There’s already a spring loaded back, so a modified double dark holder may suffice, or maybe I’ll look into a custom made unit. The need for a plate holder isn’t immediate though so I have time to mull that one over.

Stay tuned for more updates to come, and hopefully sometime in the future you’ll find yourself staring down the barrel of this beauty whilst sitting for a magnificently large wet plate portrait of your own!


Here’s a little something-something from the latest product shoot for Seawolf Jewellery Design. Model - Alex Brown

Here’s a little something-something from the latest product shoot for Seawolf Jewellery Design

Model - Alex Brown





Yesterday was a hard day of podcasting. Well podcasting and drinking.

Yesterday was a hard day of podcasting. Well podcasting and drinking.