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Shooting wet plate collodion double exposures… handheld


Wet plate photographer Markus Hofstaetter is always experimenting with his art in different ways—whether it’s capturing creepy halloween portraits, or this failed attempt to capture a fire and water wedding portrait on both digital and wet plate. His latest experiment, however, was a success.

He managed to do something he’s dreamed of for years: he was able to capture wet plate portraits handheld. In fact, he went one better; he shot handheld wet plate collodion double exposures.

One of the hand-held double exposures Markus captured with his newest setup.

The entire ‘journey’—from finding a hand-holdable wet plate camera, to fixing it up and making it ready to shoot, to the actual double exposure shots—is documented in the video above and on Hofstaetter’s blog, in which his tone seems to be “I’m glad I did this, but lord was it a pain in the butt.”

One of the biggest challenges facing Hofstaetter was getting enough light to capture the plates handheld. “Even though these are small plates, I had to use 6000-7000 Watts of Hensel strobe power to get enough light thru the grided softbox,” he writes. But in the end, it worked. And since he was mixing new tech and old technique, he decided that steampunk portraits would be appropriate.

Here’s some of what he captured:

Whether or not you like the final images, you have to admire Hofstaetter’s determination and creativity. He found a camera that would work, 3D printed plate holders because they were missing, and then managed to do something we haven’t ever hear of before. Kudos are definitely in order.

Check out the video up top to see the full journey from purchase to plates, and the head over to Hofstaetter’s blog for more behind the scenes images and other crazy experiments.

All photos, videos, and GIFs by Markus Hofstaetter and used with permission.

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