Collodion Photography

I mentioned a few posts ago that in the middle of all my October concerts, I was going to be a part of a project in Huntsville.  On October 16th, I went down and spent the afternoon with Dr.Collodion, Bill Vaughn.  Collodion photography is a photography method used in the middle to late 1800s involving a lot of chemicals (and chemical reactions that I don’t understand) to create the photograph on a metal or glass plate.  It was a really fun and interesting experience and I even got to bring home a few of the photos!

Something you might notice in all the photos (except the glass plate that I got to keep) is that everything is reversed.  I’m not sure how that happens in the process, but I promise that I didn’t suddenly forget which side of the harp to sit on.  😉

You can click on any of the pictures below to see them larger.


These are two of the first plates he made, which I got to bring home.  They’re 5×7″ on metal plates.  My spooky ghost arms in the left one came from a test we did to see how “motion blur” would look if I was playing.  The long exposure time needed for the photography method blurred my arms a little too much.

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This is a digital scan of what I think is a metal plate that the photographer kept for his collection.  The “imperfections” around the edges of the photos are unpredictable and caused by the chemicals, but I think make them look even cooler.

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I think this picture of Howie alone is totally awesome and I’m tempted to redesign my website around it.  This is a digital scan of an 8×10″ glass plate that the photographer kept for his collection.


This is the 8×10″ glass plate that I got to keep.  It looks really awesome, but is surprisingly hard to take a picture of without any reflections!  That’s why I had to take this picture at an angle.  I thought about trying it on my scanner, but realized the light in the scanner would probably reflect too…