Wet plate photography, one of the traditional photographic methods, gives a completely different but fascinating experience as you’ve probably learned from our previous features. Portrait and wedding photographer Markus Hofstaetter shares with us another interesting look into his ultra large format wet plate process: from the cameras he uses, traveling with his wet plate gear, and shooting in a historic studio.
Months ago, Markus told us about how he got into wet plate photography as a result of his interest in analog photography. From doing 4×5 large format tintypes and ambrotypes with a Linhof Master Technika, he has since moved to 11×14 ultra large format after coming across a wooden Reisekamera (roughly translates to “traveling camera” as they can be folded away and carried with a suitcase).
In his new videos, Markus takes us first in his studio in Austria and tells us about traveling and shooting with one of these massive wet plate cameras to the Czech Republic. Then, he brings us to his shoot in the historic Museum Fotoatelier Seidel. As you can imagine, packing, unpacking, and setting up wet plate gear and studio stuff would be challenging, so it’s interesting to know how it went for him.
The first video below is a 23-minute, 360 view video with a step-by-step commentary from Markus as he works with ultra large format wet plates. What’s also interesting about this 360 video is it allows us to have a look around his studio in the Czech Republic for the day. If you want the 4-minute version, you can play the second video instead.
As you can see from the videos, wet plate photography involves a meticulous chemical process that produces a unique result, which photographers today continue to find fascinating. “The whole process forces you to slow down (like a natural deceleration) and to become a control freak somehow,” Markus has found. “You must plan every little thing in advance to be able to master this process.”
On another interesting note, beautiful wet plate cameras are still being made by some talented artisans and photographers at present. You may want to learn how Dieter Schneider and Pali Kalsi painstakingly craft their handmade wet plate cameras today.