This Could Well be the First Handheld Wet Collodion Selfie Ever

Ever wondered if it’s possible to do a handheld selfie with wet collodion?

We’re big fans of pushing the limits of photography regardless of the medium, so imagine our wonder when someone answered with a resounding yes! Last time we shared some cool stuff from San Diego-based Anton Orlov of the Photo Palace Bus, it involved a 4×5 camera with an f0.7 lens. Recently, he got in touch with us and told us about his recent projects, including what is most likely the world’s first handheld wet collodion selfie ever. But wait, doesn’t wet collodion involve an achingly slow exposure time and sturdy tripods? Well, that’s what he sought to address to create his unique selfie!

On his blog post, Anton wrote about experimenting with some new daguerreotype techniques (including his “antorama” method of creating panoramic images) when the idea hit him. Reminded of all the tourists using selfie sticks during his Grand Canyon trips earlier in the year, he also thought about comments from social media groups jokingly speculating if the concept could also work with wet collodion. Naturally curious and seeing that no one has actually tried it out, he decided to do it himself.

“To imitate the wide angle lens of a cell phone I chose the Burke and James 4×5 Orbitar camera, which comes with a 65mm Schneider Super Angulon. Having the top speed of f8, that lens wasn’t exactly ideal, but I figured that with my relatively fresh collodion and somewhat healthy silver bath, I should be able to get near ISO 1 speed, which in direct sun would give a proper exposure of 1/4 sec at f8. Yeah, holding a 4×5 outstretched on a tripod as a selfie stick for 1/4 sec is not exactly something you do when you want for sure to get a sharp image, but I did all right on the first try and the image turned out rather sharp, but a bit on the dark side. I guess my silver wasn’t as good and collodion did age in the fridge over the 4 months that I’ve had it in there… So, 1/2 sec was the next try. I held my breath, squeezed the cable release, and voila: what I strongly believe to be the first ever hand held collodion selfie.” 

Burke & James 4×5 Orbitar camera and Anton’s ‘selfie stick’

A tripod as a selfie stick? Well, not many expected that, for sure! Whether wet collodion photographers would follow suit and take this as a challenge is definitely something we’d like to see!

Don’t forget to check out the Photo Palace Bus for more of Anton Orlov’s traditional photography experiments!


Photos by Anton Orlov. Used with permission and pitched to The Phoblographer.