I continue to document small towns throughout the Midwest. Since I don’t carry the bulk of my cameras with me I often take snapshots of things I find interesting with my iphone. I print them out when I get home and decide whether I want to photograph them with my large format stuff.
Blue Room, Hwy. 6, Edina, Mo.
Ranch House Motor Lodge, Quincy, Ill.
OldGlory reflection, Hannibal, Mo.
Jesus in Visqueen, New Start Rescue Mission, Quincy, Ill.
Had the chance to shoot a few plates a few weeks ago and just got around to varnishing them. This is a sunflower field about five miles east of the Mississippi in rural Adams County. I took these during our recent hot spell, and the collodion was acting really funny. I had a lot of peeling and never felt like the collodion was adhering well to any of the glass plates. I also had some splotches where it seemed to sit really heavy on the plate, which I hadn’t experienced before, either.
When I don’t have the time to shoot glass plate negatives using the wet plate collodion process, I use two old cameras and shoot 120 film. The first one is a Brownie Hawkeye. It has a meniscus lens, which isn’t bad. But if you flip the lens around you get a tack sharp center and an almost dreamlike out-of-focus falloff. I’ve just started using it for some pictures. The ’50 Dodge was shot with that lens. The other camera I use is a 1920’s Kodak No. 2 Brownie Box camera. I used it to shoot “An American Landscape 1,” “American Farmstead” and “Winter Road.” I call it my point-and-shoot.
“An American Landscape”
“Winter Road, Adams County”
A few years ago, after buying out a darkroom from a local photo studio, I came across some old 5×7 film holders in the boxes of stuff I hauled home. I opened the first one up and found that it was still loaded with film, which was Tri-X, that I guessed had been loaded in the ’70s or ’80s. I shot some of it and was pleased with the serendipitous effects of the images.
You never really know what you’re going to get when you shoot with old film. Sometimes the emulsion is shot, or there’s fogging or light leaks from the paper backing not sticking, etc. So I bought a bunch of old Tri-X 120 roll film from the mid-1960s and have been taking pictures with it using my Holga toy camera and my old Yashica A twin lens reflex. I also started using a Kodak brownie and an Agfa B2 Cadet, which is fast becoming my favorite camera.
This is a barn near Lima, Ill., that I photographed in 2010 using the Holga and old film. This is a silver gelatin print on FOMA paper that was lightly sepia toned, followed by a dip in coffee. I’m headed into the darkroom in the next few weeks. I’ve got tons of film to process and a lot of prints to make. I will upload more to this post as the prints are completed.
This is the former Goddard Grocer Co. building in downtown Hannibal, Mo. This is a flatbed scan of a clear glass ambrotype using the wet plate collodion process. I photographed this building in the fall of 2011. It most recently was a cajun restaurant called “Bubba’s.” It sits on the banks of the Mississippi River and was pretty much destroyed during the Flood of 2008. It’s been vacant since. The buyout of the building was just recently completed, so it will be torn down in the next few months, I imagine. You can read about it here: http://www.hannibal.net/topstories/x587878162/Bubba-s-buyout-now-complete
This is an old hotel in the historic downtown area of Mark Twain’s hometown, Hannibal, Mo. I’ve always wanted to photograph it and finally got the correct lens and technique (wet plate collodion) to do it the way I visualized it last fall. This is a scan of a silver gelatin print made from a clear glass ambrotype.
This old brick silo is across the river in what’s commonly known as East Hannibal, Ill. I photographed it in the fall of 2011 using the wet plate collodion process. This is a scan of a silver gelatin print made from a clear glass ambrotype.
This is part of what I think used to be called a “motor court” in the 1940s and ’50s, cabins along rural two-lane highways for travelers to spend the night in before the advent of chain motels. It’s one of three remaining cabins at a place on the outskirts of Hannibal, Mo. It’s also got the old SKELLY sign, service station and original gas pumps out front. I photographed this with a Darlot petzval lens from the 1860s. It’s a clear glass ambrotype. I plan to go back and shoot a lot more pictures there. I call this one “Gretel’s Cottage.”
This is the first portrait I shot with the wet plate collodion process. It’s a clear glass ambrotype. I used the Darlot petzval. My focus is just a tad off. The exposure was about 12 seconds, and I didn’t have a head brace to keep the girl still. She did pretty good, but those old lenses are razor sharp at the focal point and have a beautiful fall off. If y0ur focus point is off by a 1/4 inch or so you get this type of result. I always focus on the eyes. I plan on shooting a lot more portraits this year and will post them as I go.