How this all came about:

S.Gayle was making plans for an upcoming trip to Pass Christian, on the Mississippi coast, and New Orleans for White Linen Night.  Fifty-seven pieces from her series Pass were to be shown at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, opening that same night.

I have a friend who has a little bungalow in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, just across the bridge from Pass Christian.  So I made plans to go to the coast, to the opening, and to see what kind of trouble the two of us could conjure up.

I’d been shooting my 16×20 inch pinhole cameras for about six months and in mid-July asked Gayle if she thought we could use them for wet-plate collodion.

She didn’t say “no.”  She said she didn’t have a silver bath that large.  But she did have one for 11×14, and we decided to give it a try.

I think Gayle agonized over getting the collodion properly poured on a plate that size and I for sure worried about my 11×14 pinhole camera and whether it was up to the task.

We needn’t have worried.  It took a couple of tries to get the exposure down right, but once we nailed that part we knew we were on to something good.

It didn’t take long before we decided that we would next try 20x20s, and found no evidence that it’s ever been done before – not with a pinhole camera.  In fact, the experts insisted it couldn’t be done.

That didn’t keep us from trying.  Two old women…

And that is where this blog begins.


§ 9 Responses to How this all came about:

  • This is most likely going to sound geeky, but I like the tag format you have on the blog. Love this project.

  • jfsherrod says:

    Thank you Blue, you should come to Mississippi and make plates with us one of these days! Judy

  • I’ll start walking now…wonder when i’ll get there? No seriously, I absolutely feel in love with these at Photonola!

  • Bob Williams says:

    Pretty amazing pinhole images! But how long are the exposures!!? Do you add gelatin to the collodion to extend drying time? I live in Lexington, Va and just saw a Nocturne at the Kiernan Gallery. Beautiful!! It didn’t look varnished though????

    • Bob Williams says:

      I mis-spoke … I meant to say glycerin, not gelatin. The Osterman’s mentioned that glycerin could be added to collodion to extend drying time. I have never tried it, but may sometime in the future.

      • sgs says:

        I have friends who redipped the plate in the silver bath before developing to combat drying. I have never tried it myself but they say it works well.

    • sgs says:

      Hey Bob. Thank you for your kind words. Our exposures are from 1 to 19 minutes but the majority are 3 minutes. I do not add anything to the collodion. It takes a lot longer fro a mammoth plate to show the effects of drying then a small plate and shooting in the gulf helps as the weather is generally most. Our plates are not varnished, they are waxed with Dorland’s wax medium.

  • Bob Williams says:

    Thanks! ( I just remembered to check back here.) I love the beading on your plates. Do you get more of it with the extended exposures? I find when I get it (and sometimes I want it and sometimes I don’t) if I put more Everclear in the developer (capfuls at a time) I can get the beading to dissipate. This usually means that it is also time to sun the silver bath to remove the volatiles and organics. This is also when the plate needs to remain in the silver bath for 5-7 minutes instead of 2 or 3 to get rid of the beading on the surface of the plate.

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