Roarie Yum

What can I say, Roarie Yum is one of the most unique models I've had the pleasure to work with.  She has such passion for what she does and an ability to speak using just her form.  Graceful and soft in one breath, powerful and strong in the next.  It was a wonderful experience.  She travels around the world making beautiful art for a living,  making many a photographers life more interesting.  What better way to see the world is there? :)  Thank you for giving me an evening of your time, Roarie.  It was truly a pleasure.

All wardrobe designs provided by Adrina Dietra Graham

We started off the night shooting a few Tintypes and Ambrotypes.  

This is a photo of the ground glass as I'm focusing.  The image you see here is flipped vertically and horizontally as the light enters the lens.

8"x10" on Black Aluminum

We had enough time for one more plate...a more classic nude.

Photo by Rico Elvina

Photo by Rico Elvina

8"x10" on Black Aluminum

As Wet Plate takes a lot of time, and Roarie only had a limited amount of time that night, we moved on to shoot the figure studies and a few of Adrina's beautiful pieces. 

A fun shot of us at the end of the day. :)

Many thanks to Rico Elvina for helping out with the wet plate images and taking the behind the scenes photos. 

Out in the Woods

So this is Little Smokey's(Weed Tent Camera) first time out of the house.  My buddy Rico Elvina and I decided to give it a try on location .  There was a LOT of prep...we thought we had everything together...we got in our Zipcar Minivan, Shiloh, and took off.  30 minutes into the ride, we were talking about what we were going to do and going over the checklist.  It seems we forgot to bring a few things.  He thought I got it, I thought he got it... 1.  The aluminum plates...kinda important.

2. The TENT FRAME!!!! REALLY important.

So, we headed back into manhattan, laughing at ourselves...because what else can you do? We picked up the supplies, and headed out again.  Now, sadly, this cost us about 2 hours round trip.  We already spent some time in the morning mixing chemistry.  This put us getting to our location about 4:30pm.  Time is of the essence.  So I thought, screw it.  No test plates...just go straight into 20"x24"...guess the light/exposure.  Meanwhile, I had never shot this lens in daylight before(and it's only the second time I've used this camera), but we would not have much light to make adjustments, so I decided to just go for it.



That's Rico streaking across the frame.  Rico shot all of the behind the scene images today.  Many thanks for coming out, Rico. :)





This is a shot inside the tent after it was all zipped up, so you can see the image as I'm seeing it in the camera.  As you can see, the lens easily covers this 30"x40" foam core board.







Tequila bottles make the best collodion bottles. :)



Fixing the plate.

Here's the two plates I liked the most...even so, they had some chemical issues.  It's par for the course every now and then, though.  Sometimes, it's a blessing and you get good results, sometimes you don't.  This time, it's a mixed bag.



Even though there are some chemical issues here with the streaks, I still think this one is quite beautiful.



Things were FAR from perfect on this one as the chemistry definitely went off the rails on this one, but once again, it's still quite interesting.  I did learn some things about tray developing large plates that I'll take with me to the next shoot.  This is definitely a long term play and things will tighten up as I get more experience with this size and working in the tent.

The day was chalk full of great learning experiences.  The need for a checklist is paramount.  For the RV trip this fall, everything will already be in there, but right now, everything has to be brought with us each time, and it's quite a lot of gear to take on location.  I think my collodion recipe was off somewhat, and there were definitely developer issues.  So it's off to making more chemistry and planning the next outing a little better. :)

Giant Wet Plate Camera II

Well after a long time of dreaming, thought, planning, and dedication, I've finally got the Giant Wet Plate built and ready for use.   It's been a lot of fun trying to make this project work out.  It all started when I got the first piece of the project...the 6.3 20in. Air Ministry Aerial lens and thought of the possibilities it created. HUGE thanks to Larry Baglio for helping me through the build and working out the details with me.  It took us about an hour and a half to get it built the first time, but now that we've done it once, It might only take 15 minutes to set it up again.

See the beginnings of the idea here:

I knew the lens had  a huge light spread, so then it was just finding the enclosure that would work the best and go from there.

Christophe from New York Models was kind enough to send Vince(pictured below) over to the studio to make this test a good one. :)


Funny enough, the enclosure that worked the best turned out to be a "Grow Room" for  The fun secondary benefits included some very nice openings that were meant for ventilation and lighting, but ended up working out as a great place to put the lens and the light.  It's truly a light tight room and perfect for the shell of the Giant Wet Plate Camera.


Here's a shot of the inside with the lens and light.  You can see the P-50 reflector in the shot above.  The great thing about the placement of the light is that it's so close to the lens.  This allows me to light up my subject with my Profoto Bi-Tube and 2 7a 2400 packs.  It's 4800 watt seconds of power per shot.  You can actually feel the air off of the strobe when it fires.  It's pretty crazy the amount of light that it puts out.  Collodion needs a lot of light to work, so this, plus a little extra time after the flash is enough to get a great image. The ISO is around .25 to 1.


The inside of the camera is also the darkroom.  Because the plates are so big, they have to be tray sensitized(silver nitrate), developed, fixed, and washed.

The Siver Nitrate and development is done within the camera turned darkroom.

So strangely enough, the focusing and shooting of the camera are done INSIDE the camera. :)  The backplate moves back and forth manually inside the camera to focus.  You see exactly what you get right in front of you.



When zipped up, it's completely light tight.

Here's the start of the process, where you pour collodion on the plate...

pour from James Weber on Vimeo.

After you shoot the photo and have it developed, you have to then fix it.  Here's the first big plate that I shot with the camera.

Wet-Plate-James-Weber from James Weber on Vimeo.

I'm very excited about the possibilities the camera creates.  I'm planning to continue my portrait series and eventually, take it on the road to do some big landscape Ambrotypes, Glass Negatives, and large Aluminum plates.  The possibilities are endless...

Portrait of Vince Dickson.  © James Weber, 2013


Until next time...

Wet Plate: Cat and Kerri

Along with the other work that Cat and Kerri did with me for my Black Silk Nudes project, we shot some wet plate that day as well.   The first one, below is an 8x10 Ruby Ambrotype.

Here's a photo that show the color of the glass...Ruby Ambrotypes are nice.  They have a nice warm feel in person, but if you put something black behind it, it looks like the above image.

The above image was shot on alluminum.

This one was shot on Black Glass.

I also had some fun with my Polaroid SX-70 and The Impossible Project's Instant Film, PX70 COLOR SHADE for the behind the scenes.


And here's a few of Kerri.  My favorite of the day was this one, below...on alluminum

The light was a 2K Arri with a silver card fill.  12 seconds

Emulsion Lift with Impossible Project 8x10 Film

So I recently picked up a few boxes of the new Impossible Project 8x10 instant film.  I've been waiting for this for a long time.  Polaroid made the last 8x10 batch in 2006.  It's been so long that the pods have all dried up, which makes it unusable even if you could find a box on ebay. Enter the Impossible Project.  The Impossible Project had bought all of the 8x10 production machinery from Polaroid just days before they went into bankruptcy.    They focused on all of the smaller films first, but finally, they were able to put their attention to starting up the 8x10 production.  This is some of the film from the first production run.  I took a workshop at The Impossible Project office to make sure I got a handle on how to use the new film.  It's not a peel apart film like the original polaroid was, although you still need the polaroid processor to use it.

First thoughts are this is a very cool development for old process lovers.  Being able to shoot this format will bring a whole new generation to large format photography and keep it alive.  The artistic possibilities are also something that you will never get from digital or some filter that becomes the new rage.  Instagram can't create these effects.  There is something to be said for doing it the analog way.

Below are the two shots I took.  One of their employees, Kyle, was kind enough to model for me.

You could actually just keep it like this and that could be your final product.  But....there are other options of what you can do with the new film.  I experimented with 2 of  the options.

1.  Do an emulsion lift and put the lifted emulsion onto some other medium.  In this case, I put it on some 300 gsm matte paper(below), which is my favorite application for polaroid.

2.  Scan the negative side, invert it, and blow it up from there(Below).  I definitely see some fun applications for this.  I love the dark, mysterious nature of this.

First things first.  Get your tools together.  Cut off the edges of the film first.  That will make the lift so much easier.

So, I took a few videos showing how I did the emulsion lift.  It's a little different from the original polaroid lifts.  You used to have to boil water, then put the polaroid in.  With the Impossible Project film, you just need hot water, comfortable to the touch.

Just play them one right after the other to see the process.



Sorry about the sloppy film work here...I took my eye off the camera a few



Ok, so I forgot to shoot this image for the other this is where you use a piece of transparent film to get the emulsion out of the water.  You can now shape the emulsion how you wish it to show up on your fine art paper.

So I used a 300 gsm paper for my base.  It's good to use a thick paper as otherwise the wetness will make it curl up.  I used Matte Medium for the adhesive base.  Just use a brush to apply evenly.



Once again...sorry, we're switching up images to show you the last phase...forgot to film it on the other one.



Here's the inverted Scan again.  You have to bring down the blacks quite a bit to see all of the detail.

It's funny, I learned that by baking the emulsion in my attempt to dry it out faster, it actually made it turn sepia.  So, if you like that, get your bake on.  300 degrees, keep the door open, and cook until you like it...just don't burn it. ;)

As you can see, it now has a sepia tonality to it on the top.  The print was hanging out of my little toaster oven, so the bottom is still more black and I thought I'd keep it that way.

Well, that's it for now.  I'm going to do another shoot from start to finish and try to make it one movie next time.  Until then, I hope some of you go out, pick up some film, and keep this wonderful large format art alive!


Wet Plate Nude - Abigayle

Hey everyone, Well, I finally got a chance to do the second nude in my series with a wonderful model, Abigayle.  I had an idea, that as I have a 12 second exposure, why not use that time and do some creative blurring of fabric using the wind machine.I'm very excited to be shooting on two types of glass for the first time.  Black glass and Ruby glass ambrotypes.

There is something about this old process creating these unique works of art that you can't create in any other way.  It's wonderful, because you can do subtle variations using lighting, time of exposure, developing, etc, to make each one a little different.  I wanted to have the fabric moving fast so it would blur out.  I wasn't sure what the end result would be, but I thought it would be pretty cool.  I'm very happy with what came out.  I'm looking forward to continuing the series and incorporating more of this motion blur in my work.

The Camera:  Anthony Imperial Climax Studio Camera.  Voightlander lens circa 1875.  I'm  not sure of the aperture, but I think it's around 3.6.

My lighting was a 2k hotlight and a 1.2k hmi, which is why you see 2 different shadow intensities. Exposure was 12 seconds. Old workhorse collodion + cyanide fixer.
Black glass
Black Glass
My biggest problem with the shoot was seeing the image in the dark box.  I really had no idea until I left if there was an exposure...I have to work on my red light inside the box.  A lot of guess work went on...
Ruby Glass
These last two are moodier.  I love the edge detail that comes from doing wet plate.  It makes each image one of a kind.
Lastly, here's one on aluminum...
Here's a little behind the scenes video i shot...

Ethereal Beauty

This is a series that I shot as a part of a larger fashion story, but these few stood out to me individually. I think it shows a little bit of who this woman is. Strong in some photos yet soft and vulnerable in others. I love flowing elements in my work.  Whether it's a wind blown dress, or other moving elements in the image, I enjoy the movement it creates.