Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yankee Pin-Up

A few weeks ago Amy and I headed out to Pt. Reyes to make some plates.  I found an old barn and we started pouring away.  I think the old barn gives a nice background.  And with the torn lace top, it just seemed right to put the Union hat on her!  We got a few good plates in ... before Johnny Law showed up and chased us off.  Oh well.  It was a beautiful day, finished with bbq'd oysters and cold beer at the coast.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


May 1st is World Wet Plate Day, in honor of Frederick Scott Archer who invented the wet plate process in 1848.  Why May 1st -- Archer died on May 1, 1857.  He was buried in an unmarked grave in his local cemetery in England.  Some fellow colllodionistas raised some money to buy him a tombstone, which they set just yesterday during a ceremony.  On this day, collodionistas around the world shoot in Archer's honor and post-up their plates here:

On this celebrated day I had the great opportunity to shoot with Samiha, who has such gorgeous features that I suspect a monkey could get some pretty good plates shooting with her.  In any event, the following is the one I liked best. 

I note that this plate shows very well the attributes of the curved-field petzval-design lens.  As you'll see, her eye is very sharp, but not much else in the picture is.  Indeed, toward the bottom of the image the background almost melts into her skin, nearing the periphery of the curved field where the spherical aberration is strong.  At f3, and a long-focal length lens (10 inches?), the depth of focus is very short indeed, probably not much more than an inch.  This was a 14 second exposure taken on the side of my house.  I used a small plastic pill jar to try and hold her head steady, and it appears to have worked.  Also, there was a slight breeze, so the gray cloth in the background was moving a small bit, as was her hair, all of which I think adds to the softness of the background, drawing the viewer's attention to the detail of the eye.  I love it!  Thanks for looking.