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Monday, January 27

Truck Camera




Here's a fascinating video about a wet plate camera built into the back of a truck and which takes enormous collodion photographs.

Collodion is a process I don't know too much about and I doubt I'd have the patience to get heavily involved in it. However, it has to be said that good collodion photographs, particularly portraits, are absolutely stunning.

I loved this quote from the video, "When I started in photography, I was using my hands to create images. And it seemed like overnight digital came and all that came to an end. I didn't know it at the time, but I lost something I loved." That mirrors my experience exactly. Here's another great quote, "I didn't just build a camera: I created a time machine".

The guys in this video deserve respect for this endeavour - it really is quite incredible when you think about it.


6 comments :

morris1800 said...

Enjoyed that Bruce , $500 a shot would love to try it but the cost of silver nitrate is a bit of a show stopper . I did once shoot a box of Ektacolor in 5x4 at £3.80 a shot. Being a tight ass Yorkshire man I didn't sleep for a week until my therapist suggested I buy a 6x9 roll film back to shoot color on my 5x4 outfit.

Kenny Wood said...

Great video Bruce thanks for bringing it to my/our attention:) The video appears to show him making his own collodion from gun cotton or at least that's the impression they're trying to give however it's much easier and safer to buy it ready made!
This is on my to do list this year along with a few other old processes I want to try. However I might add I'll be trying it on a very much smaller scale 5x4 initially! I've got the collodion and the silver nitrate's in the post and once I've a few other bits and pieces I'll give it a shot.
That newly acquired Kodak camera of your's might be ideal if you want to have a go yourself, but then again perhaps not!

Bruce Robbins said...

I might be giving the Kodak a go sooner rather than later, Kenny. Just got my process lens through the post on Monday so I'm almost there.

Kenny Wood said...

Looking forward to reading your 'review'! You mention you're going to use a process lens, is the lens shutterless? I ask because it might be an ideal lens (cheap solution) for a wet plate camera I've planned to build sometime later in the year. Wet plate as you know means long exposures and I could get away with a lens cap as a shutter.

Jan Moren said...

Question is, could you make your own silver nitrate with the silver in your used-up fixer? It would be peculiarly satisfying to be able to reuse that for more photography rather than send it away or throw down the drain.

Kenny Wood said...

In answer to Jan's question the answer is yes, so long as you can get the silver out of the spent fixer either by electrolysis or precipitating the silver out using wire wool. You then need to react the silver with nitric acid to make your silver nitrate. However reacting the recovered silver with nitric acid does have a drawback! The reaction mixture produces oxides of nitrogen (NO and NO2) which are both particularly unpleasant and affect the respiratory system.

3 Ag(s) + 4 HNO3(aq)(cold and diluted) → 3 AgNO3(aq) + 2 H2O(l) + NO(g)
Ag(s) + 2 HNO3(aq)(hot and concentrated) → AgNO3(aq) + H2O(l) + NO2(g)

I should add that hot concentrated nitric acid would be very very dangerous if it gets on your skin, eyes etc. Unless you know what you're doing don't try it. It would be a lot easier and safer to just buy a few grams:)