I am so excited. I have just booked myself on to a two day course where I will learn how to make ambrotype images. This is the process that was used to make some of the earliest portraits when photography was still in its infancy and I have long been fascinated with the process. Now-a-days we are so lucky to be able to take and make images at the click of a button and we can pretty much do what we want to them in a matter of seconds, creating all sorts of weird and wonderful effects if we want to. And of course I do enjoy that very much – it’s a highly therapeutic hobby of mine, colouring in little images on my phone and seeing what I can create. Sometimes though, I am far more interested in taking a pure photograph and doing very little digital editing at all, and seeing how much truth I can find in the image – simple, honest and unadulterated. There is a constant argument going on inside me between those two positions.
Nevertheless, one of the apps I have used a lot in the past is the Hipstamatic Tinytpe app. Each time I do play with it though I am consumed by the knowledge that it’s not real, it’s fake and it troubles me greatly. However, next summer I am going to be learning how to make these images properly using chemicals and a very old camera and plates! And I can’t wait. I’m absolutely thrilled to be doing it and really looking forward to heading off for my two day introduction to the process. (Since initially posting this blog several people have asked about the course so here is a link to the details and other dates – wish I could make it to the one in the Yucatan!)
Alternative photographic processes are used by a number of artists and in particular I recently went to see Richard Learoyd at the V&A. His process is absolutely fascinating and the work he produces simply extraordinary. Do go and see his show if you have a chance. Learoyd makes his images using a camera obscura, which means he uses a whole room as his camera. If you’ve ever been to Greenwich Observatory you may have been in the camera obscura they have there and seen the reflection of the park below transposed onto the circular walls of the building. It’s the most magical and wonderful experience. Learoyd does this with his images. He makes the print directly from the projected image and fills the room that his model or subject are in with lots and lots of flash to create these incredibly beautiful ethereal but present images. I just loved them when I went to see them the other day.
So although, my two day introduction is a bit of a step away from Learoyd’s work, I am really, really looking forward to learning about how to make and create images using some of the oldest processes around. It will be fascinating and I’m sure will inform my ongoing development as a photographer in some way. I was umm-ing and aah-ing about booking it but heh, if you can’t buy yourself an early christmas present, then what can you do – or something like that… Sure it makes sense somehow. Here are a small selection of the iPhone images I have taken and edited using the Hipstamatic app I mentioned earlier.
I hope to do one or two more blogs before the holidays take over so in the meantime have fun!
All images (c)Sarah-Jane Field