Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Collodion prints without a camera.

I know what some of you may think about it and I've got ambivalent feelings about this too. But it is good to experiment a little bit sometimes and check what comes out from the connection of 'the new' and 'the old'. I think it's exciting.
Recently I did some contact prints and enlargements on collodion, using transparencies.

This is a collodion contact print of a positive image printed digitally on transparency, exposed under the enralger light:

This digital (sic!) image was taken a while ago in Italian Dolomites, (while climbing ferrata Giuseppe Olivieri, Tofane). I printed it as a rather week, B&W transparency and gave it 90s exposure @ f4.5, (5 months old collodion, poor boy).
I put the transparency directly on the wet plate (printed side up), but I was lucky it came out well. I think it would be better to put it somehow with a little distance to the plate.When putting it on the plate it is quite easy to create some stains, get air bubbles between transparency and the collodion film or scratch the plate. (and this was just 4x5 print, I'd imagine it would be even more difficult with something bigger)

The second image is an example of an enlarged print, from 6x6 colour transparency, 90 s exposure, with  dodging/burning the sky :).(it is cropped, enlarged on 4x5 glass)

I must agree that once you know how the image was made you can feel cheated. Someone may say there is no 'life' in it,  it's like an image of an image. But on the other hand it opens a lot of interesting possibilities, overcoming the limits of the collodion process and allowing to use collodion expression with any image.
I'd rather concentrate here on 'technicalities' and possibilities and leave the decision, if it's right to use collodion this way, to you...

I didn't make too many tests, just wanted to check how it goes and works. I have a very limited sources of transparencies (rather don't use them) and I randomly chose an image for printing on transparency, giving it one-off try. I've made an enlargement of 6x6 digitally printed B&W transparency and it's also working.
With neither of the image I got the quality that I'm getting from the camera and taking into account some loss of the quality caused by the enlargement, I guess it would be difficult.
However, I think that a little bit more experiments with different densities and contrasts of the transparencies would allow to achieve quite nice and interesting prints.

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