Southern Cemeteries – Wet Plate Photography – Problems Happen

I headed out this past Sunday to one of the graveyards I’d visited the week prior.  I had some pretty specific ideas in mind.  Guide in tow, we set up at the bottom of the graveyard underneath a tree.  I took a walk around and verified some of the shots I had in mind.  Some seemed like they’d work others not so much.  I hauled my big Folmer Schwing 8×10 up the hill and began to set up the first shot.  The day was beautiful with a light breeze in the air and the temps were in the low 80s.  I poured the first plate, dropped it into the silver bath, stepped into my tent and the first sign of things to come hit me in the face.  I’d cut my glass about a millimeter long.  I messed with it, fiddled with it, pleaded with it, prayed to it and it finally, tightly, dropped into the holder.  I headed out and made the exposure.

You bet, getting the plate out proved a bit of a problem.  I shouldn’t have forced it in.  I knew it.  So, below, please find an interesting photograph complete with my thumb prints from where I had to open the front and gently push the plate out.  Yes, I’m stubborn and relentless to a fault at times.

Graveyard Sherwood 4

Five thumbprints!  If the glass don’t fit, it don’t fit!


So, a bit of panic stepped in.  As I let the plate above rinse, I quickly ran over to my remaining glass plates and did a check to see if they fit into the holder.  They did.  I’m not sure how I made the mistake with the first plate.

It was on to the remaining photographs I intended to make and the rest of the “one of those days” settled in.  Fog!  Weirdness I can’t explain!  I just hit a pit of errors and issues.

Graveyard Sherwood 3

Not a friggin clue here!   Interesting effect though.


Graveyard Sherwood 2

This kind of effect with light is impossible to capture via any other medium.  Jacked up photo, but man I love wet plate!


Graveyard Sherwood 1

Here is a great example of “liquid” lighting that you can get via wet plate.  Plenty wrong here but I just love the look and feel.


All said, I returned home a bit down.  It happens.  I could analyze the plates and images and recall my every move but in the end, you know, shit happens and you just have to let it go.

So, let’s talk about the positive.  These images embody just precisely what it is that I love about wet plate.  There’s a ghostly, other-worldly, liquid, mystical light, type-thing about them.  It’s my addiction and why I will haul all the gear out, spend four hours and even face frustrating errors only to keep coming back.  Yeah, four hours for four photographs each of which give me a bit of disappointment.  Each of which though I can see the magic within.

Net result?  I’m frigging happy!  That’s right.  This is just the best thing in the world to be doing!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s