Today’s wet plate

Bouquet, Bohemia collodion (old batch), f11 at about 7 seconds, full sun

Bouquet, Bohemia collodion (new batch), f11 at about 6 seconds, full sun

Bouquet, Lea's portrait collodion (old batch), f11 at about 7 seconds, full sun.

Bouquet, Lea’s portrait collodion (new batch), f11 at about 7 seconds, full sun.

Linnaea amabilis, Lea's portrait collodion (old batch), f11, about 7 seconds, shade.

Linnaea amabilis, Lea’s portrait collodion (old batch), f11, about 8 seconds, shade.

Barbecued for lunch today. Tried chicken breasts stuffed with feta and garlic, was good although maybe too much garlic.

After lunch it rained for a while, then when it stopped I set up all my wet plate stuff and shot a few plates. Learning from past mistakes, I went slower this time and got a couple plates that I think are okay, of a bush and a bouquet. Was too windy to shoot much, the bush is blurry as you can see. Too windy for portraits, which was good because the family currently is unwilling to pose for portraits. Not even the tortoise holds still long enough.

I’m eventually going to need a new camera, brass parts are starting to fall off the one I have. Nothing essential yet, but it’s only a matter of time…

Just like that

The God of the Office snaps out of extreme (he took this test that’s what it said) depression just like that and takes a walk in the sunshine. He calls his wife no answer. He calls his daughter no answer. He texts his wife. His daughter calls back and they talk for a while but she’s in a bad mood (maybe) and she sounds as if her phone is at the bottom of a long pipe ROWRROWRROWR and then before he can cheer her up the connection breaks off. His wife texts back. He thinks,
Yes this is awesome!
Lilacs and wisteria blooming at the same time.
The God of the Office thinks,
Hopefully no crow will show up until after I’ve been to the deli and have food for him.
One of the Mossad guys from the Israeli embassy is walking down the sidewalk six feet in front of the God of the Office. The God of the Office tries to act nonchalant.
The grey crow swoops down.
Hi, says the God of the Office. I don’t have anything for you now. Hang on ten minutes, til I get back from the store, okay?
He wonders what the Mossad guy is thinking.
A minute later, the crow buzzes him, a real close swoop, he can hear the wind in the feathers.
This is one of his favorite things.
Once again, the God of the Office explains the situation to the crow.
At the store he buys a sandwich. He was going to buy a salad too, but the store is out of plastic forks. So he gets some trail mix and at the cash register breaks down and gets generic Oreos.
They cost practically nothing.
The crow meets him up the street, a couple blocks up from the store, at the usual place. He gives it some curry chicken sandwich and they stand there, watching each other and eating. Then the God of the Office strolls up the hill, towards the office.
The crow comes back and he gives it some more sandwich. At the next street corner, a second crow, a black one, arrives and he tosses it some sandwich, the last piece, but the grey crow flies over and takes it.
Here have some trail mix, says the God of the Office. The black crow pecks at that. The grey crow comes back and the God of the Office gives him some trail mix too.
And that was lunch, mostly.
There were other things of course. The long line at the cash register. Wondering if the Israeli was really Mossad – wouldn’t Mossad agents have better-fitting suits? You’d think. Maybe not, though.
There were a lot of attractive people at the store, and a few less-attractive ones.
There was the Invisible Hand, about which the God of the Office has been thinking, in the sense of it being a bullshit justification for an unjust status quo the exact same way kings used to be kings “by the grace of God.”
Now they’re kings by the grace of the invisible hand.
The God of the Office is trying to figure out what the proper expression is for such bullshit justifications.
And a few other things.
And that was lunch.

Happy birthday, wee bug

Today was my daughter’s 18th birthday and I wanted to take a few plates to commemorate it. I didn’t have much time, so I had to hurry.

That was my first mistake. Hurrying summons the fuckup elves. Never hurry, I know that, but I forget sometimes. Let’s see, what were my other mistakes this time around? First picture of the kid, the plate turned out black and she asked me if I had remembered to pull out the slide (a mistake I made with her in the past). I had not. Second picture turned out better. Third also. Fourth, with her sister and mother, turned out poorly due to hurrying with the posing etc.

I will not post that one.

Finally, putting stuff away, I hurried again and dropped two plates, one of which scratched – my favorite one.

Also, although I made a test plate, and exposures were better this time, I still either over-exposed or over-developed. I mixed new developer last night and it might have been that.

Someday I look forward to having the whole day to shoot in leisure. Maybe someday soon. Anyway here are the two pictures of Tess on her 18th birthday. I had fun. Thanks for being patient and a great assistant, Tess, not to mention great model.

1 may 2015 wetplate tess 1

f5.6, 3 seconds, overcast day. maybe overdeveloped? also dropped to the floor, scratched.

1 may 2015 wetplate tess 2

f5.6, about 4 seconds, overcast day. overdeveloped? overexposed? also dropped to the floor, but a little luckier.

The fuckup elves

Finally found the time and energy to mix chemicals and set everything up in the back yard to take a few pictures. The fuckup elves were out in force today and things went wrong in both old and entirely new ways so I learned quite a bit. Took forever to figure out a good exposure. My basic problem is usually hurrying and today was no exception. I should have just taken the time, made a test plate to figure out exposure, but I thought I could skip that step by guessing, which didn’t work so I ended up wasting more plates than necessary.

It was very sunny today, and I am beginning to think overcast days are better for wet plate. Four finally, sort of, turned out and are posted below, from best to worst (IMO).

I am beginning to get tired of shooting pictures of flowers, and looking forward to going somewhere and doing landscapes or portraits.

Kerria japonica, full sun, 4 seconds at f11. 13x18cm (5x7 in) black aluminum

Kerria japonica, full sun, 4 seconds at f11. 13x18cm (5×7 in) black aluminum

The photo above is the kerria japonica bush in my back yard. I have always loved kerry bushes; my uncle, who lived next door, had one near the hole in his wall the honeybees flew into, and I spent many hours sitting there watching them. I love how this picture turned out. It has fewer specks in person, a lot of the dirt is from the scanner, I think.

Bush, full sun, f11 4 seconds. 13x18cm black aluminum.

Bush, full sun, f11 4 seconds. 13x18cm black aluminum.

I was hoping the contrast would have turned out a little stronger with this bush (above), I like the patterns and the potential for creepiness. (Actually, the more I look at it, the better I like it.)

Roses (dry), aluminum foil background, full sun. f11, 4 seconds. Wet plate collodion on black aluminum, 13x18cm (5x7 inches).

Roses (dry), aluminum foil background, full sun. f11, 4 seconds. Wet plate collodion on black aluminum, 13x18cm (5×7 inches).

This picture is my first experiment with aluminum foil. I was hoping it would turn out blurrier in the background, but I guess 4 seconds were not enough. I have seen photos by other photographers who move aluminum foil around during the exposure for a misty or smokey or glow effect. In this picture, it just looks like a piece of aluminum foil stretched between two rods…

Roses (dry), full sun, f11 4 seconds. 13x18cm (5x7in) black aluminum.

Roses (dry), full sun, f11 4 seconds. 13x18cm (5x7in) black aluminum.

A picture of roses in a vase a friend invented – it is basically a plastic collar you screw onto a pickle jar and voila, vase. I think it’s brilliant. The vase. The photo less so. Oh well.Fail better, right? Thanks, fuckup elves!

To do

Knock alarm clock onto floor [x]
Hit ‘on’ button on coffee machine [x]
Realize your wife had already turned it on, so you just turned it back off, so turn it back on [x]
Make coffee [x]
Mop kitchen floor and bathroom floor [x]
Get reprimanded by wife for doing a half-assed job [x]
Check outside temperature, put tortoise out, saying, “You are a very naughty tortoise” [x]
Mop kitchen floor a second time [x]
Write in journal a little [x]
Take shower, get dressed [x]
Go to store for cat food [x]
Drive kid to school [x]
Drive to work [x]
Take a walk at lunch time but fill pocket with peanuts first [x]
When the crow swoops by your ear, feel gratitude at being alive so you can hear the whoosh of a crow flying close [x]
Give crow peanuts [x]
Observe crow hiding peanuts by poking them down into grass and carefully covering them with leaves [x]
Stand there a long time watching the crow, which is big and fat and sleek. Also grey, so grey crow most likely, c. cornix [x]
Buy a sandwich at the store [x]
Give the crow more peanuts until it stops even hiding them and just stares at you, stares you down, then give it part of your sandwich and watch as it throws away the tomatoes and lettuce, throws them with great dislike, and tastes the mozzarella carefully, and flies away with the roll [x]
Wonder why slain and hanged. Were those the only causes of death in ancient Scandinavia? [x]
Develop a theory of the multiverse based on choice, with alternate universes bubbling up like foam, branching off from each other with every choice, a few conscious, most not, most not even imagined or suspected [x]
Think about the foam you used to see on blades of grass in the field in early summer, when the grass was still green, put there by some insect [x]
Realize you just created another universe just now, one in which you actually did think about the grass of your childhood, another where you did not [x]
The crow, however, did not create an alternate universe in which he eats a peanut instead of hiding it, because even though the number of alternate universes is infinite and growing larger all the time, in none of these does the crow eat a peanut, that’s how tired it is of peanuts [x]
Go back to work [x]

There was a strange baby that sang at midnight

A long line of strangers’ cars in the darkness, headlights off, idling or moving slowly. A little moonlight. People walking beside and amongst the cars.
Strangers all.
Near you, a strange woman has a baby and a lot of other things to carry. Maybe she is pulling a wagon. You hold the baby for her.
You want to comfort her and the baby, so you comfort her by comforting the baby.
You hold it gently to yourself, protecting it, and hum.
There in the night, among strangers, you hear a beautiful noise and it takes a while to realize it is the baby singing.
The night is quiet, people murmur, engines idle, tires grind on gravel. Footsteps and your tinnitus whining and whirring and jingling.
The baby’s song rises above all of it like wind whistling through a canyon.
You share a look with the mother. How wonderfully it sings, your eyes say.
How wonderfully the strange baby sings in the night.
What is all this, you ask the dream.
The necessary coexistence of the strange and the beautiful, says the dream.

Valentine’s bouquet 2

Shot today: Valentine's bouquet. Old Workhorse collodion, 14 seconds, f4, overcast day.

Shot today: Valentine’s bouquet. Old Workhorse collodion, 14 seconds, f4, overcast day.