collodion

During the Orange Band’s first field trip to the camera obscura at Ocean Beach, they ran into an awesome photographer who takes pictures with glass plates, called wet plate collodion printing.

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Today, Mackenzie invited Chris Honeysett, the photographer, to Brightworks to tell us about his art!

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She writes, “Chris brought his antique camera to Brightworks to demonstrate for us how he develops wet plate collodian negatives. Because the combination of chemistry and light is so changeful, creating these negatives is an iterative process that requires a lot of patience. Chris took 4 different shots before he was able to get an image!”

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“Before each shot he had to prepare the plate of glass by coating it with collodian and silver nitrate. Kids from every band packed into our makeshift darkroom in the quiet room to watch him explain these steps. The way he the way he carefully coated the glass in chemicals was like watching a mad chemist at work.”

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The exposure for collodion photos lasts longer than modern photos, so when Chris took a photo, we had to sit completely still for thirty seconds – which, as you might imagine, is slightly difficult for a group of kids! Sadly the light wasn’t strong enough to capture the kids inside the school, but they were great at holding still.

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Under the curtain, the camera showed a crisp image of the subject:

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Ultimately, Chris was able to capture a small group of students and staff outside in the courtyard and the ghostly image appeared on the glass negative.

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Thanks to Mackenzie for making this happen!