Thursday, January 24, 2013

POV: Creation Of A Tintype Photograph

Readers of this blog know of my current flirtation with the wet plate look, so I'm glad to have found this short movie describing the rather finicky process of creating a tintype photograph. Bob Shimmin is the photographer describing this process, and he makes it look simple...and it isn't. It's slow and deliberate, part science, part alchemy and art. He has been working in the little used photographic process of wet plate collodion for a number of years.

This video is part of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum special exhibit - Remember Me: Civil War Portraits. You can also watch how Shimmin got involved in tintype photography on this documentary.

I learned from scouring the web that tintypes were introduced in 1856 as an alternative to the daguerreotype and the albumen print, the tintype was widely marketed from the 1860s through the first decades of the twentieth century as the cheapest and most popular photographic medium. It differs from the wet plate because the light sensitive material is coated onto a piece of iron rather than glass...but the process is similar.

I've also found Penumbra Foundation Center, which is a New York City organization dedicated to preserving historical and emulsion based photography, and which offers tintype (and other alternative processes) workshops.

Of course, if that is too cumbersome or complex, there's always the Hipstamatic Tinto 1884 App or the Alt Photo App for the iPhone! My gallery of portraits made using desktop version of the latter app is The Digital Wet Plates.

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