Photo credit: Michele Selway
Redeye Academy returns this month with Digital Detox (Tin Type); one of a series of two workshops giving an insight into, and hands-on experience of, more traditional printing methods. If you're interested in this workshop but want to learn a little more about it, we've asked Michele Selway from The Tin Type Trailer some frequently asked questions about Tin Type photography.
Q: What is Tin Type photography?
A: Tin Types are also known as Wet Plate Collodion Portraits, Ambrotypes and Ferrotypes. Wet Plate Collodion was the main method of photography between 1851 and around 1870. It involves flowing a sticky substance called collodion over either a piece of tin or glass, which is then sensitised in silver nitrate. The plate is then exposed, developed, fixed and then protected with a lavender varnish. It has to be damp throughout the process otherwise it loses its sensitivity. As the plates are made of tin or glass, they are unique: there is no negative. This process engages the public in the history of photography and the process of development; we allow the public to view the magic in our dark room, as the image appears on the tin from negative to positive.
Q: Is this workshop appropriate for my skill level?
A: This workshop is aimed at any photographer looking to take a break from the digital and try something different. This is a taster session, so you do not need any level of photography or alternative photography experience. Just an interest in history, art or science is enough.
Q: What format will the workshop take?
A: It will be hands-on, not a lecture or a sit-down event. I will be showing you all how to ‘throw' (make your own) Wet Plate Collodion prints.
Q: Do I need to bring my own camera?
A: You will only need to bring a camera if you want to take photographs for your own documentation. I will be bringing a variety of cameras for us to work with. We will probably work with two sizes of camera; a 5 x 4 MPP with a Petzval Lens and a 6.5 x 8.5 Vageeswari with a Petzval Lens.
Q: Do I need to bring anything else?
A: You will need to wear old clothes and comfortable/old footwear. Aprons and gloves will be provided.
Q: What will we be photographing?
A: We can photograph objects and/or produce portraits of each other. If you wish to photograph anything in particular, please bring it along with you. You will have the opportunity to take your very own Wet Plate Collodion print home by the end of the day.
Photo credit: Michele Selway
Q: What is the appeal of Tin Type in 2018?
A: In a world where we constantly document our day in photographs using a whole range of digital devices, I feel it is essential to slow things down and appreciate the history behind the inventions we have come to rely on. Wet Plate photography has an aesthetic that cannot be recreated. There is an app and it is pretty realistic, but it's missing one thing. It is not physical. This means no smells, no interaction, no awkward long pose and no loss of control. Nowadays we can take a thousand pictures on an iPhone until we get the picture we are happy to share online. Using an authentic studio set-up, we learn to appreciate the process of making each individual image and learn to love the imperfections that come with it.
Q: How did you get into Tin Type photography?
A: I graduated from Stockport University Centre in Manchester partnered with Liverpool John Moores University with a First Class Honours. I studied on the BA Honours degree of Contemporary Photography, however found myself working in a less contemporary way due to the nature of my work. I am interested in the presentational form of a photograph and it’s collaboration with the materiality of the image. These areas of investigation have been at the core of my work over the past five years and were essential to the development of my work. Through these themes, I have been experimenting with alternative and 19th-century photography, specialising in Wet Plate Collodion. I have been inspired by the interesting correlation between the powerful factors affecting the landscape (time/erosion/natural factors) and the effect that the 19th-century processes that I am working with alter/influence the images.
My current work explores images as three-dimensional objects; created using the idea of concept-led processing. The process opens the work up to a wider audience, encouraging one to feel a familiarity and desire to interact with the surface of the photographic image. I explore this through reflection, texture, touch, smell and through the final presentation of my work.
To learn more about Michele and the work of The Tin Type Trailer, click here.
To book your place on the next Redeye Academy - Digital Detox (Tin Type) on Saturday 24 February, click here.