Glass plate Ambrotypes - Artists portraits

Its great when a simple idea finds its own direction. What started as a simple wet plate portrait session of local artist Eric Timms grew its own legs and culminated in quite an inspiring project.

After my Wet Plate session with Eric back in March some ideas were shared online to create a board for the Firtingal Art Fair in July featuring other participating artists but a suggestion was made to create a portfolio of artists taking park in the ‘In The Garden With Friends’ exhibition at the Barn Gallery as The Bield at Blackruthven in May. The event was the brainchild of Mosaic artist from Crieff Katy Galbraith who did something the same a couple of years ago and was a great success so we knew the event was going to be good.

Perthshire Artist Eric Timms

Perthshire Artist Eric Timms


So, after some very rushed planning we planned our shoot day, setting up the camera and a temp darkroom at the Bield on the day when most artists were visiting to deliver their works a few days before the exhibition. There were a few times when I thought it was far too complex in the time available due to the requirements of developing at the time of the photo session but the day when extremely well producing 16 plates from 16 sittings. Only 1 was reshot, not for technical reasons but the first shot of June M was just scary even for her, but even this plate was used.

Flash lighting was chosen to allow for reactive responses from the sitter, it may not always giving the best results compared to 15-20 seconds with ambient light as used back in the 1850’s but siting still for a long pose requires a very static expression, ever wondered why the victorian portraits tended to look so serious and miserable ?

 Artist are cheerful folk .... normally !

Plates still wet and very fragile were stored safely to transport home then the following day dried, cleaned, photographed and finally painted ready for mounting. Along with a couple done in our own studio they were all set onto a large board ready to be hung at the exhibition on the opening night.

It has been a very fun and rewarding experience and has received quite a bit of attention, not just due to the process but the final aesthetic quality of the images that contrast to digital capture. People become involved in the photographic process and are always enthused as they watch the final image appear on the glass.

So, will we still do the same for Fortingall ?, I certainly hope so. Thats a couple of months away -  loads of time !.