Wet Plate Camping 2014
Back in August I joined a keen band of UK wet platers for a weekend of camping at Bank House Farm, Hulme End, Derbyshire. Wet plate social organiser and all-round good egg Tony Richards managed to find a really nice location, with amenities (pub) and something to photograph (mostly trees, but they were nice trees).
I didn’t arrive until the Saturday morning, by which time quite a few people were already set up and photographing the features of the camp site, which included a picturesque river running around the edge of the field. My first shot of Ray Spence was a bit overexposed, so when I returned I scanned the plate and made a digital negative, which was then contact-printed using the Van Dyke Brown (VDB) process. Likewise, an image of a big tree at the entrance to the camp site got a bit overcooked, so that ended up as a VDB print too. These were made using a very nice hand-made contact printing frame supplied to me by Mark Voce.
The river running through the camp site had quite a lot of possibilities, and there was soon a crowd of people shooting there. So, I decided to photograph elsewhere and used some props that I brought with me; a pair of articulated wooden hands. The resulting image has a slightly menacing feel to it – creepy subject matter seems to suit collodion very well for some reason.
That evening we retired to the Manifold Inn and experimented with dangerous alcoholic chemicals. The main findings were that consumption of real ale inhibits one’s ability to walk in a straight line, and also makes it harder to find your tent at night. I have written these findings in my note book, for future reference.
The next morning I fought off a raging headache with a cooked breakfast at the Manifold, and then returned to make a few more plates. The portrait of Mark Scholey worked out reasonably well, but was again a bit overexposed and unfortunately the collodion lifted from the glass on the way home. I was rushing a bit and didn’t clean the glass properly – a reminder that if you cut corners in the collodion process, it will come back to bite you. Fortunately I was able to scan the pieces and reconstruct them to make a digital negative, which again was printed using the VDB process.
On the way home I checked out a couple of other locations – Arbor Low (too far from the car for wet plate) and Magpie Mine (ditto, although it seems that access might be possible with permission). All in all, a great weekend. Thanks to Tony for organising it, and to all the other wet platers for sharing their knowledge of the process so freely.