All photos by Oleksandr Malyy. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Wet plate photography, also known as wet collodion process, is among the topics we like to keep tabs on. It’s amazing how this centuries-old photographic process is kept alive in the digital age. The projects made with this process today never fail to show just how timeless the craft can be. Case in point is the wet plate photos of Kiev-based Oleksandr Malyy, which is a testament to how perfect it is for photographing steampunk-themed projects!
Steampunk, both as a science fiction subgenre and subculture, features technology and aesthetic elements inspired by steam-powered machines of the 19th century. This makes the wet collodion process the “period-appropriate” photographic technology for steampunk snaps, as we can see in Malyy’s small collection of steampunk wet plates.
While a big chunk of steampunk imagery relies on getting the style and aesthetics right, the antiquated look that is uniquely wet collodion makes it even more effective. This is why the genre and subculture is also a favorite subject of many wet plate photographers today (including our go-to wet plate photographer and camera builder, Markus Hofstaetter). Even the movie world turns to wet plate photography (thank goodness we still have wet plate photographers today to get the job done) to create an accurate, Old World feel of the 19th century.
Today’s digital technology has equipped photographers with the tools to create impeccable images that are flattering for any genre or subculture. But wet plate projects like Malyy’s remind us that traditional photographic processes will always have a part whenever a nostalgic and timeless aesthetic is required. Steampunk or otherwise!
Oleksandr Malyy has a couple more wet plate projects on his Behance portfolio, so you might want to check those out as well if you’re looking for more wet collodion photography inspiration.