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


Photographer Markus Hofstaetter makes a speciality of massive format pictures, together with the moist plate photographic course of. Hofstaetter additionally affords workshops, together with ones the place fellow photographers can strive 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 learn the way the moist collodion course of labored and ultimately 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 pictures, now acknowledged as fakes, confirmed a portrait topic joined by the ghost of a deceased relative, resembling this famous 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 Warfare. Mumler wasn’t with out his critics, such because the famed P.T. Barnum, who accused Mumler of capitalizing on individuals’s grief and profiting from them of their most weak moments. Nonetheless, Mumler was allowed to proceed his work and later developed the Mumler Course of, a sooner 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 discover ways to construct a digicam and use it for double publicity moist plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I constructed a DIY digicam package, so to say. However I didn’t need to construct every thing. It was vital for me that we put the main elements collectively in particular person, to actually create a digicam and an understanding of how a digicam works.’ He needed to guarantee that the main elements have been adaptable and upgradeable and that the digicam comprised supplies you may discover at an area DIY retailer or ironmongery shop. 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 properly 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, so 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

In addition they wanted to make a floor glass for his or her massive format digicam. You possibly can study extra about that subject here. For the 4×5 movie holder, the DIY digicam makes use of a normal worldwide holder that has been modified with silver wires, as they’re extra proof against acid and work properly 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 appears to be like prefer it was a implausible three-day workshop. Hofstaetter and West captured many nice moist plate photographs and you’ll lots of them on Hofstaetter’s blog.

This double publicity is particularly harking back to Mumler’s Nineteenth-century spirit pictures

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


All photographs by Markus Hofstaetter




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