A 6000W Light Meets Harley Davidson and a 12 × 16 inch Wet Plate

This is a syndicated blog post from Markus Hofstätter. It is being republished with permission. Also be sure to check out our previous interview with him.

As always, everything starts small:

As I walked for lunch I met Leo and he talked with me about my tintype photography. He told me about his new Harley Davidson and that he wanted me to take his photo with the Harley. Of course, I should use my 100 year old Camera and capture the light on a collodion wet plate. I just thought cool, let’s do it.

Some weeks later, I got a call from the Austrian television broadcaster ORF. I was very happy to learn, that they wanted to do a documentary about my work. As you can imagine, it wasn’t too hard for me to choose for a subject to be photographed.

I asked Leo if he is in – he said yes, so let’s do it.

Shooting Day

I prepared all the chemicals shortly before the shooting and tested everything. To get a very short exposure time, I planned to use my Hensel Tria 6000 generator with the strobe head.
On the shooting day it started raining in the morning. Leo arrived way before the ORF Team so we made fun of it that we would shoot during the rain- what actually would not be possible because of my 100 year old camera and the strobe. Scheduled start was 1pm and believe it or not, it stopped raining at noon. Wet Plate shooting here we come.

The Shooting

After we reviewed everything we positioned the Harley and I put my camera and the strobe into place. Because both are pretty heavy you need a certain amount of energy to move that stuff. After that, I instructed Leo where he should stand and how he should position his hands (no creepy hands in that pose please). Now I took the first digital picture to see how everything looks like.

After that, I did the first exposure test with a 4×5 Inch plate. I used the same camera for that. The plate was a little too bright for my taste. So I changed the aperture from 5 to about 7. Now I started to pour the big plate. This time I was a little more excited than normally. This is the third time I was filmed professionally during that whole process, but to make a 12×16 Inch wet plate is no piece of cake and not now an easy routine. Anyway, I was very happy with the poured plate and put it afterward in the silver bath for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, I rushed back to Leo and checked the focus on the camera. Back again in the darkroom, I put the plate out of the bath, cleaned it and put it afterward in the wooden light sealed plate holder. Rushing with the holder back to Leo and my 100-year-old camera. Exchanged the ground glass with the plate holder I was ready to shoot. Lens cap of the lens – releasing 6000W during the day onto the Harley and Leo and after under a second, the lens cap was back in place again. Rushing again back into the dark room where the next challenge was waiting for me. Pouring the developer. Because I used a different technique it was much easier than I expected it to be. Slowly the Image started to appear and I saw that it looks good. A final wash before I could fix the plate and then I was on the way into daylight where everybody was waiting for the fixing process.

After I put the plate into the fixing tray the magic started to happen. It always seems that the image disappears but in the very same moment it appears again from kind of negative to a positive and it looked awesome. Everybody was excited and happy and I was proud and happy to about my work.

As soon as I know broadcast times or I have an online link, I let you know here on the blog.

If you guys want to experience yourself how a tintype is made and own a one of a kind wet plate, please contact me via my website http://zeitreise.jetzt
I do workshops too so you can build your own tintype.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my Newsletter: http://blog.markus-hofstaetter.at/Newsletter/

Used Hardware:

Hensel Tria 6000 Generator
EH Pro 6000 stribe head
Hensel Grand 90
the result: