Who Needs 10 FPS when you can have 1 Frame Every 10 Minutes? 5 Min Portrait 1850’s Edition
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Who Needs 10 FPS when you can have 1 Frame Every 10 Minutes? 5 Min Portrait 1850’s Edition

October 16, 2019


Jared Polin: Jared Polin froknowsphoto.com
and this is a five-minute portrait shooting like it’s 1850. So, I’m here with Giles Clement who is a
tintype photographer. Giles, give me a little bit of background on tintype? Giles Clement: Yes, so, tintype is one of
the earliest methods of photography used around the 1850’s and you’re essentially creating
a silver image right on a piece of metal. Jared Polin: So it’s very similar – we’ll
it is also known as wet plate photography? Giles Clement: Yup, wet plate, tintype, same
thing. Jared Polin: So, there’s a lot chemicals
involved which we are going to show. We’re going to show you guys the chemical process
here, pouring it on the plates. We’re going to get through all that, but talk about the
camera that you have here, what’s the lens, what’s the whole set up? Giles Clement: Yeah, so this is a – it’s
an 8 x 10 Calumet and her name is Ediodes, I name all my cameras and this is a 500-mm
f4.5 Goerz Dogmar lens that was originally used during the First World War for reconnaissance
of Zeppelins and repurposing it for portraits. Jared Polin: So, you said 1914? Giles Clement: 1914, yeah. Jared Polin: So, they would literally fly
these in Zeppelins and take pictures of whatever they were taking pictures of? Giles Clement: That’s what I’ve been told,
I don’t know. Jared Polin: You don’t even know but you
believe it. Giles Clement: Yeah I believe it. It’s a
good story too, so I’ll keep propagating. Jared Polin: Everything’s a good story.
So, over here, we’ve got the little stool setup where I’ll be sitting but what in
the world is this for? Giles Clement: So, this is basically a head
brace. So, in the old days, they used to take photos during daylight hours and you had to
sit still for 5 to 20 seconds for a long time. I use strobes, so you don’t have to sit
that still but with a 500 f4.5, I mean the depth of field is literally like an eyelash
so this is just to keep your head still so you just have your head propped against there
while shooting. Jared Polin: Right. So, I can see that and
you were talking about the effective ISO, is what 0.75? Giles Clement: 0.75, yes it’s super slow
so I just need to use it, tunnellized to take an image. Jared Polin: Right, so really remember the
old days, you would see the photos of people and they would ghost, that’s because they’re
doing those 5,10 to 20-second exposures because the emulsion wasn’t incapable of capturing
as much light as obviously we can do now or you couldn’t put out a big flash unless
you waited for a storm and then flew a kite and got it electrified and then you would
maybe have enough light to get the exposure right, but in this case, because we’re pumping
out a ton of wattage, we are able to get exposure down to what? Giles Clement: 500th of a second. Jared Polin: Which is pretty darn fast so. Giles Clement: Real quick. Jared Polin: So, the next step we’re going
to move to is we might as well get the plates ready. So were now over here in the dark room and
Giles is going to walk us through the process of getting the plates ready to be exposed.
What do we have? Giles Clement: Yeah. So essentially, we have
a piece of aluminum with black enamel on the surface of it. We’ve got alcohol. I just
cleaned the plate off of that, occasionally take a sit, and this is collodion, so it’s
gun kind of ether gel. It’s got a couple of metal salts in it that when they mix with
silver, it becomes light-sensitive. So, I’m going to be pouring that on and then making
the emulsion. Jared Polin: So, this is – when you say
ether, if we put it onto a paper towel and held it over our face, somebody would pass
out? Giles Clement: Somebody would pass out. Jared Polin: We have a reenactment of that
later, maybe not. So, is this any kind of special aluminum or where do you get this? Giles Clement: No, really it isn’t. Actually,
I buy stuff is used for trophies, so the little plaques on trophies. So it’s just aluminum
with black enamel surface on it. Jared Polin: Cool, all right. Let’s see
this process. Giles Clement: Okay. So, you peel this off. Jared Polin: So, you have obviously a clean
substance or as clean as it, it’s going to be now before you put the alcohol on it. Giles Clement: Yup, yup. And let’s get a
piece of paper towel. Jared Polin: That’s grain alcohol like you
said? Giles Clement: Yup. And actually, I used that
to mix the collodion. I mix that in there as well, so it thins down the collodion. So
I’m just going to clean that off real quick. Jared Polin: Smells lovely. Now you can just
see it evaporate, it makes it nice and clean. What would happen if it wasn’t clean? Giles Clement: You just get a messed up image
or a more messed up image, so the plates are actually usually pretty clean, it just kind
of an extra little security for me. Jared Polin: Sure, but anyway, so there is
that. Giles Clement: Yeah, if you want to just handle
that. Jared Polin: Don’t drink the collodion. Giles Clement: Don’t drink the collodion
or sniff it too much. So, I’m just going to pour this and work it over the surface. Jared Polin: So, it’s kind of like a gelatin? Giles Clement: Yup, it’s really, it’s
cotton, mixed with nitric acid Jared Polin: Oh, nitric acid, cotton. Giles Clement: It’s like your t-shirt on
a piece of metal. Jared Polin: And you really – is there a
science to this pour? Giles Clement: Just a lot of practice, just
a lot of messes, basically. Jared Polin: Oh my God it smells like a doctor’s
office. Giles Clement: Right. Jared Polin: Oh my God. I’m not going to
breathe right now. Giles Clement: Don’t breathe, don’t breathe. Jared Polin: I want to go to the side. Giles Clement: Yeah, so this starts – it
starts to set up. It starts to become a little bit tacky. Jared Polin: Like a gelatin type of thing? Giles Clement: Yeah, yeah, and then I’ll
take it in my dark tent here and put it in tank and the silver nitrate suspended in water.
The silver reacts with the gel here and becomes light-sensitive. Jared Polin: I got to whip. Oh my God, I’m
catching more and more. Giles Clement: First time. Jared Polin: I need to wear one of those respirators. Giles Clement: Okay, so, I’m going to drop
it in here now. Jared Polin: All right, so he’s dropping
it in there. Talk about – it’s silver? Giles Clement: Yup, silver nitrate. Jared Polin: Silver nitrate, that’s going
to get the – that’s actually what gets exposed, am I correct? Giles Clement: Yup. Jared Polin: All right, so that’s in there.
What’s next? Giles Clement: So now, I’m going to get
you over here and get you in the posing stool. We’ll get you all set up, get the focus
right and we had to wait three minutes. So, the plate is sensitized in the chemical reaction
going on right now between the silver and the collodion to make the emulsion. So, I’ll
just get you setup over here, once we do that, we’ll be ready and I’ll bring the plate
out, we can shoot. Jared Polin: All right, so, let me get sat
down. Let’s put those prongs at the back of my head and then go through the process
while this plate is getting ready, so let’s go and do that. What is the next step Giles? Giles Clement: So I’m going to get you sat
down, you’re already sat. This is the head brace. I’m going to have you look up towards
the camera there and I’m going to run this little brace into the back of your head. Let’s
just keep you real still because the depth of field is just zero. Jared Polin: You’re not going to electrocute
me? Giles Clement: No, we hope not. Jared Polin: This isn’t going to kill me
like in Escape from LA… Giles Clement: We hope not. Jared Polin: …when you don’t want to be
put in the island? Giles Clement: I haven’t watched that. Jared Polin: Well, it’s not very good. Giles Clement: Okay. But anyway, yeah, I’m
just going to adjust the light. This is a – I’m putting about 3000 watts out of
this head. So, that is my main light, so I’m just going to get that. I’m busy looking
into your eyes trying to get a nice catch light. Jared Polin: So, what type of portrait – what
kind of framing are you going to for? Giles Clement: I’m going to be right there.
I’m going to keep it – I mean, usually I go a little bit tighter, but I got to get
your hair in there so I can go a little lighter with you, but it’s like right from the neck
up the top of your hair and then like that and. Jared Polin: Tighter the better. Giles Clement: Right, yup. Jared Polin: So, I know from experience. Do
I have to keep my head here or can I talk to the camera? Giles Clement: You can take to the camera… Jared Polin: Sweet, sweet. So, I’ve already
sat once before when Giles came to town and then I used – he had a 4 x 5 and I sat in
front of these 3000 watts seconds and it feels like the sun is exploding in your face. It
puts out that’s much power. Giles Clement: True. Jared Polin: So, how many lights do we have
here? Giles Clement: We have just three lights.
We have one hair light, one main light and a background light. The background is fairly
dark so I’m just going to throw some extra light on the back of that to bring it out. Jared Polin: Will my hair – like will the
light come through my hair at all, you think? Giles Clement: I doubt it. From that light,
it will but from the back one, no. And really, I should add another hair light but we’ll
see how this goes. Okay, so, I’m just going to asset you into
focus, get you set up with that. Jared Polin: So, basically, tell me what you
see through one of these cameras because it doesn’t have a prism? Giles Clement: Yes, there’s no prism, so
the entire image is upside down. So, I’m looking at you inverted and backwards, so
I’ve gotten used to basically dealing with that and shooting upside down. It’s kind
of weird now if I go start using a camera that isn’t inverted. It’s unexpected. Jared Polin: So, your brain is thinking – it’s
kind of like the eyes. Giles Clement: Yeah. Jared Polin: Our eyes, our eyes – I’m
going to look over here. Our eyes – our brain is what – it changes the vision from
when it hits our optic nerve. Everything is actually upside down and backwards but the
brain switches it around, so when he’s looking through this camera, I’m upside down and
backwards. Backwards. Giles Clement: Backwards, Jared, all right. Jared Polin: Do I need to seat upright or… Giles Clement: No, that’s good – I mean
I would just sit how you normally are. Jared Polin: Like this? Giles Clement: That’s pretty good. I mean
I’m just going like out to the very edge of your hair. I might go a tiny bit closer
but… Jared Polin: I wouldn’t be upset if you
cut some hair. Giles Clement: Okay. Jared Polin: Whatever you think the best. Giles Clement: Yeah, no, no. I want to get
the hair though. That’s why we’re here, right? Jared Polin: Yeah. so I know from the past,
you’ve got the bellows extension factor. How do you figure out the exposure for this? Giles Clement: It’s trial and error and
it just – you know, there’s no meter that goes to 0.75, there’s no metering with the
whole thing, so I just – it’s just experience basically. Jared Polin: So, it’s for shootings for
a while. Giles Clement: Yeah. Jared Polin: So, like you messed it up before,
now you figured out what you need to do. Giles Clement: Yeah. Jared Polin: Very cool. All right, so are
we ready to shoot or… Giles Clement: We are, yeah. So, I’m just
have to go back in the dark tent here and pull the plate out of the silver and load
it up into a film holder and once I do that, it’s in this light-sensitive box that I
can then drop down the back of the camera and take the image on that. Jared Polin: And then were good to go? Giles Clement: Yup. Jared Polin: All right, let’s get it loaded
up and get ready to shoot. Giles Clement: Okay. Jared Polin: All right, so, Giles is in here
in the dark room. How does the dark room look? Giles Clement: Dark. Jared Polin: It looks dark. So, tell us what
you’re doing in there. Giles Clement: Okay, so I am – the plate
has been seating in the silver for three minutes, so its sensitized. so, I’m going to pull
it out, so it comes out of the silver like that. You can see it’s kind of changed colors,
turtle yellowish, that’s the silver-seating on the surface there, its reactive with the
collodion, so it turn to light-sensitive. So I basically have a piece of for lack of
a better word, film right there. So, I got that out. I’m just going to wipe off the
back with a paper towel here and then I’m going to load it in this dark holder. It might
be a little hard to see because it’s pretty dark back here but I’m going to load it
up into this 8 x 10 holder that will allow me to take the plate without getting exposed
to light out to the camera. Jared Polin: Film holders are extremely important
for this. Obviously, you need to get from a dark room into the camera and the way you
do that is by using a film holder so that it doesn’t get exposed to any light. In
the meantime, when you go from dark to light to dark. So, you’re ready to go? Giles Clement: Yup I’m ready. Jared Polin: All right. Giles Clement: Cool. So, I got the plate here,
I got – the plate is inside the holder now. So, I’m just going to have you sit down
there and we’ll get you all set up. So, yeah, if you can get your head up against
there and it’s not really a support, it’s just kind of a brace. Jared Polin: Just to let me know, so this
is good? Giles Clement: Yup. and just look straight
here…Right, that looks good. Jared Polin: How much time do you have to
shoot the photo? Giles Clement: I’ve got about 10 minutes
to work with the plate or it’s until the plate dries out so basically it’s very environmentally,
you know, it depends on the environment but it’s super-hot and a lot shorter but yeah
that looks good. So, I’m just going to go under here. I’m going to focus on you and
do the final check on composition and everything like that. So your head is up against the
brace there? Jared Polin: Yup. Giles Clement: Okay. All right, that looks
great. So I’m just focusing basically like right on one of your eyelashes and that’s
pretty much my depth of field, it’s an eyelash. So we’re ready to go. I’m going to load
up the plate in the back of the camera. So I see that you also have a hat up top. So
the hat is my shutter, so I’m basically – I’m going to put this on and if you
hold real still, just keep looking at the center lens. I’m going to put that on and
then right before I take the picture, I’m going to take this off and then hit the flash,
okay, so, the plate doesn’t get expose to all the extraneous light, but you’re ready
to go? Jared Polin: Yes sir. Giles Clement: Okay. So, does the dark side
uncover that and here we go. Right, one, two, three. Jared Polin: Wow. Giles Clement: And that was the image. Jared Polin: That’s like fire man. Do I
have a sunburn? Do I look like I picked up some color from that thing? So being the hat
is acting like a shutter, it really – because it’s not super sensitive to light, all these
extra light really doesn’t rush in there and damage it. Giles Clement: No, I mean if I were to do
an exposure here with no flash, it would be probably 20 seconds or something like that.
It will be really a lot of exposure. Jared Polin: I would love to try that sometime. Giles Clement: Yeah. But yeah, that instant,
you know, the hat you know, I could leave out for a few seconds. It will be fine. Jared Polin: All right, so the next step is
what? Giles Clement: So, I’m going to take it
back to the dark tent and pour developer over, which is iron sulfate developer that I pour
on. That develops the image then I rinse that off. It’s like a stop bath and then we’ll
bring it out and fix it. You can watch the image come to life. Jared Polin: Awesome. So, let’s see it. So we’ve taken the photo. Giles is now in
the dark room that we’ve made her in my loft. And Giles, what’s the process you’re
going through in there? Giles Clement: Okay, so I’m opening the
dark slide off the film holder and I’m going to pull the plate out so that’s now exposed
and it looks exactly the same right now. Jared Polin: And you don’t see – right
now, it’s a latent image, correct? Giles Clement: Yeah, latent image. So you
just see. It looks the same as when I went in, it’s just white and then the next step
is we’re going to take this bottle here which is the developer. It’s iron sulfate,
vinegar, and a little bit of alcohol. I’m going to pour that on a plate like this. Jared Polin: Nobody is smoking, right? Giles Clement: Nobody smoking. Jared Polin: We don’t want anything going
up in flames. Giles Clement: And you should – if everything
went right, you should start seeing Jared’s eyes, so you can see him right there come
out. It’s just starting to show up. It usually takes about 15 seconds for this to develop.
You see a bit of his face there. Jared Polin: So I do have a quick question. Giles Clement: Yeah, yeah. Jared Polin: Will it develop to a certain
point that you have to stop it to fix it? Giles Clement: Yup. Jared Polin: It will keep developing if we
don’t stop it? Giles Clement: Yup. So, I’m actually – I
just started stopping it just now. So, I’m basically looking for the darkest thing just
to start to appear, so that was like the edge of your hair, so I’m just watching for that
and as soon as I see that, I stop the developing. Jared Polin: That’s cool. I mean that’s
something you’ll get used to. If you’re ever in a dark room, you’ll know that it
will keep developing until you put it into a stop bath. Giles Clement: Yup. So, I’m just getting
all this off, just basically washing all the developer off the image and that just takes
a sec and there is that. So, now the image is not light-sensitive so I can take it out
and we’re going to do the fixing stuff. Jared Polin: All right cool. So Giles is going
to come out and we’ll get it into the fixer. Okay, so, now we’re going to put the plate
into fixer. Giles Clement: So, this is a fixer bath, so
it’s just washing off all the silver that wasn’t hit by light and it leaves everything
that was. Jared Polin: It’s kind of like a solarized
image and what’s the fixer doing here? Giles Clement: So, it’s washing off the
silver particles that weren’t hit by the light Jared Polin: Wow! And look how it pops out.
That was really cool. So, you don’t need to agitate like we use to in the dark room,
you just let it go? Giles Clement: No, with the – so when I
pour it over, it’s sort of like – I mean, it’s agitating it but then, yeah, you can
just leave it in here. It sits here for like two minutes, three minutes, something like
that and you basically, I’m looking for this line of silver waiting for that to go
away and then it’s usually finished. Jared Polin: So I mean it can stay in the
fixer for almost an infinite amount of time, correct? Giles Clement: It really shouldn’t because
the fixer will actually start burning the image because the image is made out of gel
which is quite delicate, so it will start burning into that and eventually destroy the
image. So, it gets a little – like I guess darker and darker as it sits in here, so eventually
it will just disappear altogether. Jared Polin: So, when it’s done here, you’re
going to a water wash? Giles Clement: Yup. So I wash them for about
an hour that washes and make sure all the fixers off of it so the – you know, so for
archival purposes, it’s going to last a long time, and really these images are incredibly
archival. It is just silver on metal, so they’ll last for a hundred – I mean if you look
at an antique shop, you find a tintype there. I’m doing the same thing. So, in 200 years,
your photo should look the same. Speaker I hope that I still have hair. Giles Clement: Hopefully, yeah Jared Polin: I don’t want to look like you. Giles Clement: No, you don’t. This is very
cold in the winter. Jared Polin: All right, so this is going to
– we’re going to a water wash next and then we’re just going to wrap it up? Giles Clement: Yeah. So, the image is basically
done. I do the water wash. I will scan them, so I have a digital copy of it. It makes a
really nice, huge – I mean it’s an 8 x 10 file, so you get a massive file out of
it, and then the last step that I do is I will varnish them, so, I put shellac on the
surface of that and that’s just protects the silver, because the silver, if you left
it out in the air, overtime, it would tarnish. It would turn brown and eventually, the image
would be gone. So just – yeah, I finish them up. It usually takes a couple of hours
to finish the image up and that’s it. Jared Polin: All right, cool, let’s get
them into the water wash. So Giles, that was very, very interesting.
Are you happy with the results? Giles Clement: Yeah, I am. No, I think you
look really good. Jared Polin: Thank you. I’m trying with
the hair and everything. Giles Clement: It’s working. What you’re
doing is working. Jared Polin: I have to say. It’s so different
sitting in front of the camera like this for a portrait because you know that you’ve
got one chance to get it right. if you don’t, it’s another 10-minute process to get everything
plus it’s costing you some money because you waste the plates, you waste the chemicals,
but it was definitely an experience and it’s pretty amazing to watch the image come to
life in the fixer. Giles Clement: Yeah. No, thanks for having
me. I hope you like the image as much as I do. Jared Polin: Oh, I loved it. I loved the big
image and it’s just really, really cool and thanks for coming to the five-minute portrait. Giles Clement: You’re welcome, thank you
Jared for sure. Jared Polin: All right. So, that is a five-minute
portrait like it was 1850. I think it went pretty well. I hope you guys enjoy it and
you can download the full res file over on the site. So there you have it. Jared Polin,
froknowsphoto.com. See you! So, hope you guys liked that five minute portrait.
Well, I got to sit down with Giles for roll talk and you can click up on the screen right
now to hear our interview and all the other good stuff and find out where you can get
more information on Giles so he can shoot you.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. This must be one of the coolest videos I've ever seen. The portrait turned out fantastic as well, I really want to try this out myself some time.

  2. Super awesome as the image came into view. Much respect for photography back in those days! Great video on the process as well Jared.

  3. "So, you've messed it up before and now you've figured out what to do." Isn't that how we all learnt? A truly fascinating video, more like this please.

  4. This is a great video. Film is slowly becoming popular. It would be great if you could do some film based videos. I traded my Nikon D300 in for a old 8×10!

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