My first "participant" was Doug. We needed to try out lighting schemes and some different posing techniques and he was really great at sitting VERY still for a very long time as I worked out what I wanted. I've never worked with artificial lighting with collodion and have some serious reservations about it, but onward with it because the weather here is just too unpredictable to shoot outdoors.
Above, you can see the first successful test plate that was shot last Tuesday (1/31/17). The next day, Wednesday, we had an appointment in Tuscaloosa for Doug to shoot a spec job for a magazine cover. Fingers crossed, his work will be selected...it's so great to both be working on our photography--it's inspiring to be able to look across the room and see what he's working on and be able to talk about it with each other.
She is an amazing artist and you can check her work out here: https://www.instagram.com/poenut35/
She's a recent cancer survivor and an all around warrior-grrl. Michelle rocks--you should buy some of her dolls...I just did!
So...to start off with another artist that I trust is such a wonderful opportunity (thanks a bunch, Chelle!). I was relaxed and it just felt like I was catching up with someone I had not seen in a long time...and it really was like that. The shoot went great. Michelle was a great sitter and was very patient with the process.
Here is an enhanced picture of the bottom of the plate to show the developer marks that I was getting. They are not quite as visible on the original plate (thank goodness!).
To combat this, I put more restrainer in the developer and looked forward to Friday and my two sitters.
My first sitter was Alston Fitts, a Selma Historian. I went to middle school with his daughters and attended the same church as he and his family when I was in high school, so I was very excited to catch up with him and his wife, Anne. They were, as always, a delight to chat with and catch up after a long time without seeing each other.
Unfortunately, that little developer mark that I saw at the bottom of Chelle's plate creeped over the entire plate of Alston. I was devastated and embarrassed. I got flustered and made more mistakes.
I ended up making two completed plates, but knew fast that this was a serious chemical issue that needed more investigating to understand what was making the plate look this way...this plate looked worse than anything I have ever made. I knew it must be developer, but had to investigate all possibilities.
Was it the silver? The pH checked out a tad higher at 4.5 than I've ever had.
Was it the room itself?
Was the room ventilated enough (not by a longshot)
Was the room lighttight (it is now)
Is it the collodion? I made fresh...
Was the plate clean? I cleaned my rear end off...
With none of the above really a factor, I knew it had to be developer related, but really wasn't sure.
Wow...I felt defeated...
Doug and I began a week-long odyssey of trying to figure out what was going on. With limited wifi, the research options online are limited. After many emails back and forth with wet platers, I finally tried a different developer recipe to see if I could find one that works well in this humidy...and I did!
You can see the result with this plate of Doug where I'm testing a posing idea for an upcoming sitter. The dots are from a hastily cleaned plate that was sitting on some foam mesh. I usually clean my plates better, but was working pretty fast here to see what might be the issue.
One thing I did find out is that our 12" Derogy lens is a lot less contrasty than our 20" Wollensack...I've never had the time or resources to really experiment on this deep of a level to be able to say for sure that this is an attribute of the lens.
I am hoping to get back on the bandwagon and photograph more people for the project. At least I'll know that if I can't get sitters here in Alabama, I'll have a great portfolio of Doug!
I love you, Doug. <3