Video: Constructing a DIY moist plate digicam and photographing ‘ghosts’: Digital Images Assessment

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Photographer Markus Hofstaetter focuses on massive format pictures, together with the moist plate photographic course of. Hofstaetter additionally provides workshops, together with ones the place fellow photographers can attempt their hand at moist plate pictures. Simply earlier than the pandemic began, Corrine West booked a workshop with Hofstaetter, and two years later, it occurred.

West needed to find out how the moist collodion course of labored and finally have the ability to shoot double publicity portraits, very similar to these captured by Nineteenth-century American spirit photographer William H. Mumler. The time period ‘spirit photographer’ is an uncommon one. Mumler’s spirit images, now acknowledged as fakes, confirmed a portrait topic joined by the ghost of a deceased relative, similar to this well-known Mumler portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln with the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. That period was good enterprise for a spirit photographer like Mumler, as many households had misplaced family members within the Civil Battle. Mumler wasn’t with out his critics, such because the famed P.T. Barnum, who accused Mumler of capitalizing on folks’s grief and making the most of them of their most weak moments. Nonetheless, Mumler was allowed to proceed his work and later developed the Mumler Course of, a quicker printing course of, earlier than his demise in 1884.

Hofstaetter and West’s DIY massive format moist digicam

Again to the current, West needed to learn to construct a digicam and use it for double publicity moist plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I constructed a DIY digicam equipment, so to say. However I didn’t need to construct all the things. It was essential for me that we put the foremost components collectively in particular person, to essentially create a digicam and an understanding of how a digicam works.’ He needed to ensure that the foremost parts have been adaptable and upgradeable and that the digicam comprised supplies you might discover at a neighborhood DIY retailer or ironmongery store. The digicam ought to have the ability to work for portraits and landscapes. The trickiest half was the again, which Hofstaetter wanted to design and 3D print.

The DIY digicam works effectively with any of three totally different 150mm lenses, a Leitz Dimaron F2.8, Elmaron F2.8 or Hektor F2.5. 150mm is a ‘regular’ focal size on a 4×5 massive format digicam, and every of those lenses has the identical diameter, in order that they’re optimum decisions. Within the video above, Hofstaetter and West used a Dimaron lens, which is comparatively cheap to buy on-line and fairly sharp.

The DIY massive format digicam is well-suited to portraits, nature and panorama pictures

Additionally they wanted to make a floor glass for his or her massive format digicam. You may study extra about that subject right here. For the 4×5 movie holder, the DIY digicam makes use of a regular worldwide holder that has been modified with silver wires, as they’re extra proof against acid and work effectively with silver nitrate.

One in all West’s double publicity moist plate portraits

After constructing the digicam and capturing some pretty, sharp moist plate portraits, it was time to check out a Mumler-esque double publicity. For these portraits, they used totally different lenses, together with a Dallmeyer 3B Petzval and a Zeiss 300mm F4.5 Tessar.

It seems prefer it was a implausible three-day workshop. Hofstaetter and West captured many nice moist plate pictures and you’ll a lot of them on Hofstaetter’s weblog.

This double publicity is very paying homage to Mumler’s Nineteenth-century spirit images

If you wish to see extra of Hofstaetter’s moist plate and huge format pictures, take a look at a few of our prior protection under:


All pictures by Markus Hofstaetter



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