Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Joker

I've been looking forward to this shoot for weeks!  Melissa Jean had a harlequin top, and she MADE the collar piece and hat to go along with it!  Wow.  She is a master of wardrobe.  So, she and her beau, Matthew, drove up from LA for a shoot.  And shoot we did.  We got some great shots.  And Mattew is a photogenic lad himself!  So, I include one of him too....


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

V's New Look

I've wanted to shoot with V for quite some time now.  She's got a great figure and her portfolio had lots of cool artsy shots.  So when she made it to the area and said she wanted to shoot with me, I was stoked.  And, lo and behold, she'd just shaved her head!  Wow.  Opportunity Knocking!  The top one below vaguely reminds me of the famous Avedon shot of the (Davis) guy with bees, but mostly because I just saw his show at the SF-MOMA (mixed bag in my view, great shots but too much of the same -- American West shots by far the best of the bunch). 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Flyer

The Flyer is named Melissa.  It was the end of a rather hot fall day, and the developer was beading up, having lost a good portion of its (190 proof) alcohol to evaporation.  But I was starting to like the blotchy effect.  I mean, who wants a totally clean plate?  Might as well shoot film!  So, we have the blothcy foxy Flyer....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Col. Scott W. Adams, III

My buddy Scott Adams came over for a quick portrait session.  I recently acquired a replica civil war hat, and I thought it would look good on him, espcially with his recently sported goatee.  A suitable shirt was the next problem, and we settled on nice wool one that almost looks the part.  I used my smaller mahogany box camera, as it shoots 1/2 plate size.  I thought the 1/2 plate size would look more authentic for a civil war shot, in-hand of course, even though half plate sizes were quite rare at that time, from what I gather.  I think most were 1/4 plate or less.  Also, I wanted to incorporate my groovy headbrace, as I think it looks cool (though photographers of the bygone wet plate era strived to hide them from view).  The brace is actually very useful to keep the sitter's head still.  I've found that, generally speaking, if the eyes are sharp it greatly improves the impact of the image.  Anyway, we had a good time.  Colonel Adams is a good family man, and a notorious slayer of rebs....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

From the Archives

Sunday morning.  Black coffee.  Looking through old plates.  I like this one.  The exposure is off.  I've used the pants/suspenders too many times.  And there is a big thumb print on it.  But it still works for me.  This gal is one of the few I know who looks good in a bowler.  And I don't know what caused the fall-off in the lower-right corner --maybe went into the silver bath too soon-- but the overall effect I like, a lot.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Shot A Gal From Reno...

...but not to watch her die.  No, Katie is from Reno, and I shot her in wet plate.  It was one of my first wet plate shoots.  And, almost a year later, I continue to think that this is one of my best plates.  This is such a classic look and she does it so so well.  I've been waiting a year to shoot her again and hopefully my time will come again soon....


One of my best mates, Jon Terra.  We've been buds since grade school, and he's aged very well, don't you think?  Jon had come over one day and I asked him to quickly sit for a plate.  I only had a bit of collodion left in a jar, and most of the ether had already escaped from it.  So it was much more gooey on the pour than it should have been.  Also, you'll notice here, and on the other plates, that there is one "pour off corner."  The pour off corner is, literally, the corner of the plate that you choose to pour off the excess collodion.  The pour off corner typically has lines of excess collodion coming down into it.  When this collodion is not fully "fixed," and it often isn't, these lines come out blue in color in the end result.  In the plate below, they are more like blobs than lines, because my collodion was so think.  Actually, I didn't think this plate would come out when I shot it, but it did.  yeah!  Finally, I usually try to place the pour off corner in the lower part of the resulting image (though everything is reversed an upside down in the camera, so mistakes happen).  Here's one of the few where it is on the topside....


Ashton Miyako put herself way into this shoot, thank goodness for me.  She got the reproduction hair piece and gown in SF's Japan Town.  Her housemate came with her (all the way from Santa Cruz) and spray-painted her face white.  It was a great day, and we got some great plates out of the day as well.  This one is my fave....

J and Zack

You'll tire of reading this, but I love this shot.  I have had a number of shoots with J in film, and gotten many great shots.  This time she brought along her man, Zack.  Zack has what I would call the fresh-off-the-boat look, like he just (circa 1890) got here from Sardinia or someplace.  I envisioned him as an young immigrant to New Orleans, enjoying the pleasures of a local girl and, likewise, she of him....


This is the most painterly plate I have, and I love it.  You may notice that the edge of the toes are clipped.  I actually like the result, because I think it gives the image neat/hard vertical lines at the bottom edge, flowing upwards to softness and total lack of lines at the top.  On this shot, as will all my others, I don't have a fixed visible boundary line on the ground glass to show me where the actual boundaries will be.  My camera, wide open, is 10x10.  So when I'm shooting something less than that, say 5x7 like the shot below, I'm approximating on the big ground glass screen where the edges of the plate will be.  And I'm pretty good at it now.  There is a fix to this problem, but I haven't done it yet (which fact gives you a glimpse into my mind).  Anyway, I think this shot is simply gorgeous. 

Nikki the Knife

This shot is one of my all-time favorites.  I love the old-London style with the sex-appeal twist.  And you gotta love those eyes!  In my prop closet I have a lot of hats that I've picked up over the years.  This tophat I got in Sydney.  I prefer this one to my other tophat, because this one has nice curves in it.  See the curve in the brim?  Also see the curves in the top portion?  I think this shot works well with these lines running into the edge of the plate.  The coat is an authentic US Navy pea coat, which was originally issued to a friend's dad back in the WWII era.  The bra is well, nice on Nikki.  Speaking of, I also have this shot without bra.  But it isn't as good.  I must be getting old! 


This shot is a bit risque.  But I like it.  C Kudos, the model, is so calm and self-assured that it was a just a great pleasure to work with her.  We were looking at some of my photo books (I have a lot) and decided to take as a launching-off point a shot by Robert Maxwell.  (Robert Maxwell has some gorgeous wet plate work, and is a top fashion and portrait photographer).  We took a number of different plates of this pose.  I like this one best.  We spent a long time trying to get the hand just right over the knee.  I think this shot has a nice combination of a classical pose, modern props, and of course the tintype aesthetic overall.  You can also see the effect of using a focal-length lens that is shorter than for its intended plate size, i.e., the blacking-out of the perimeter, which I think works well with this image (and has the added benefit of putting into almost-obscurity the modern seat she is on).

The Czaress

This photo of Nikki --gorgeous model, as you can see-- is one of my favorites (though I have a lot of favorites).  She is wearing a fox hat I picked up in Russia, along with a tattered lace blouse I picked up locally in San Anselmo.  Her pose here just evokes for me a concept of a beautiful Czaress....

Dead Man

I can't look at this plate, which I like a lot, and not recall the movie Dead Man.  This plate also illustrates the phenomenon that wet plate photos are sensitive to only blue (UV) light, not the full spectrum.  Accordingly, blue tints become lighter (more silver) and red tints go darker (less silver), while greens remain about the same to our normal vision.  For this reason, wet plate shots of the sky are virtually always just a big blank white space.  Also, tattoos tend to get very very light.  The tattoo on this model had a lot of different colors in it, including red, so it came out a bit better than most....


The model, Dominique, is great to work with.  She comes from Germany and thus has zero to do with the American Civil War, other than wearing it so well!   

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Alee Cat

Alee is a great model with whom I was able to shoot this last weekend.  She has a great look and disposition.  Lucky me!

This shot I like, notwithstanding its flaws (including a hair from my pouch, Max).  But that is one of the benefits of wet plate -- some of the flaws add to the appeal!  Who can't fall in love with a process with that benefit!

The Harlequeen

One of my all-time favorite models, Vivian, did a fabulous job on her own make-up for this shot.  It is one of my all-time favorites, for sure...

First Landscape -- Launch For Hire

I always saw this place in Inverness when blowing by on my motorbike.  And when I was shooting film, I always thought this place would be great to shoot in large format.  SO, I'm particularly thrilled that I was able to make the capture in 4x10 format with a bit of the ether.  I love this shot.

Fun with Ether

This shot of Erin the Artist is certainly a new direction for me, in terms of visual impact.  I like it.  Erin was great to work with.


My buddy Tony Patella has started a new line of jeans (nice ones too!). He wanted a shot for marketing, so he brought the beer and I poured the ether....

And here is a nice shot of Mr. T himself....