Entries in wet plate collodion (29)


What About Ghost Dance??

There is something in the human spirit that will survive and prevail, there is a tiny and brilliant light burning in the heart of man that will not go out no matter how dark the world becomes.

Leo Tolstoy

Happy 2018!!

 Life has changed for me. In a big, radical way. Over the last year, I’ve gone through some major changes. They’ve been mostly psychological, but some are physical.


So, what has changed? Nothing and everything. I mean that in the way that things seem to be the same, but deep down inside, we know they’re not. We know something terrible is about to happen (anxiety). A heavy, dark weight we carry in the backs of our minds every day.


There’s a huge divide in our country, and even in our world. People are very anxious and very scared. We’re all in freefall, or so it seems. We’re uncertain of almost everything now.


We’re here because of an epistemic crisis. An epistemic crisis is a crisis of knowledge; we don’t know what’s true or false anymore. Have you been around your friends, coworkers, and family? Have you heard the absolute crazy rhetoric that comes out of their mouths? Almost everyone I know has had someone in their life that supports the current administration. And all we can do is wonder how they can accommodate and assimilate the craziness that is Donald J. Trump. It baffles the mind!


One of the reasons I’m writing this now is that I’ve been deeply affected by Trump’s election. It’s taken my desire to make photographs away. Not just making photographs, but it’s rented space in my head. I haven’t been able to work on my Ghost Dance project for almost a year. I appreciate the inquires about what happened - it was a recent question about it that prompted this writing - thank you.


I’ve told a few people why I’m not working on that project - it boils down to respect. I DO NOT want to release work that deals with genocide and American “exceptionalism” in this environment. Most people tell me it would be received better today than in a less hostile time. I disagree.


One of the first directives Trump signed was the DAPL/Keystone pipeline. He was inaugurated on January 20, he signed the DAPL/Keystone pipeline approval on January 24. It spoke volumes to me.


Since then, I’ve seen the Commander in Chief stand in front of a portrait of Jackson (Trail of Tears, owned slaves, etc.) and talk about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) from Massachusetts being called, “Pocahontas”. WTF?? Are you kidding me? And here’s the “kicker” - the two gentlemen standing next to him were the last of the Navajo Code Talkers that were very instrumental in winning World War II.


There are so many more examples of this kind of vitriol, I don’t have the time to write them out. You know what they are - they happen almost every day.


All of this, and it’s still ongoing, affects my creative life deeply. I don’t mind confrontation, I have no problem defending my work, it’s just that I DO NOT want Native Americans to feel like I’m dredging stuff up to create more problems in their lives. It can wait. I’m going to wait until I have an environment and audience that can appreciate and understand the work.


Having said that, let me address the blacksmithing/bladesmithing. I need a creative outlet. I teach once a month (or more) and that is a lot of fun, but I need a solitary way to create. I have a long history with metal/steel fabrication. I owned a shop that built wood burning stoves! Before that, I was a lowly grinder/apprentice for the local union. I’ve paid my dues with metal/steel fabrication. I wanted to return to it and feel good about going onto our land in a few years with everything we need - skill sets and equipment will go a long way.



Native American Massacre Site Project (NAMS): Finding The Aesthetic

Have you ever thought about a project for years? Researching, writing, reading, watching, consuming everything you can about a topic. And then, you finally make a move to bring those ideas, questions, and concerns to life. 

That's what's happened here. After over two decades of thinking about making this project a reality, I went out and started making plates. In my previous blog about this topic, I posted the test (positive) plate from Cold Creek Gulch. Here, I'm showing you some prints from the wet collodion negatives. 

I'm not entirely over the moon about the first outing, but it's satisfying. It is the first outing; it's started and that's what I'm excited about. 

Right now, my head is spinning with possibilties of what this could be. And this is when it gets scary for me. I tend to over think things like this. I will take a topic or a subject and strip it down to its bare essence. Sometimes, that's good, and other times, not so much.

The good part is all about vision and planning. A major component of this project is planning. Light, environment, access, etc. For example, do I want to be in Pine Ridge, South Dakota (Wounded Knee) in October? July? January? What is the light like? What access do I have? Etc.  I have to plan this for about fifteen sites that I'm doing. I may end up doing more or less, I'm not sure, but it's a lot of planning to do it right. That's where the obesession and preoccupaiton is an asset. 

The bad part of that obessession is being indecisivive and tripping on all of the small stuff. I don't want to over think the final image(s). I want to decide on something that's appropriate and that adds depth, dimension, and power to the work without killing it with craft. Craft is a slippery slope. It's easy to become preoccupied with it and loose sight of the purpose of making the work. 

I titled this blog, "Native American Massacre Site Project (NAMS): Finding The Aesthetic". That's a little bit misleading in that I've already decided on an aesthetic; wet collodion. I'm really referring to how I handle that process, specifically, how I print the wet collodion negatives. There are several options; Albumen, Salt, Collodion-Chloride, and even silver gelatin. My dilemma is walking the fine line between abstract landscapes and what I refer to as "traditional" landscapes. On the first site, I made one of each (see below). I like both of them, however, for this project, I want something in between. And, who knows? Maybe each site will allow me to make that decision while I'm there. It kind of happened on this outing. 


Whole Plate Albumen Print - "Three Stone Massacre Site - 1878"  

 Whole Plate Salt Print - "Three Stone Massacre Site - 1878"


The American West Portraits

"Chris Perez" 16" x 20" (40cm x 50cm) Black Glass Ambrotype - Denver, Colorado, USAMaking photographs, for me, is sometimes a painful and difficult ordeal. It creates anxiety in my life. When you want to see what's in your head on glass and metal plates, and can't quite get over the last hurddle, it can be very stressful. I’m in one of those times now, but working through it.

I’ve been making 16” x 20” (40cm x 50cm) Wet Collodion portraits (currently titled, "The American West Portraits"). I started planning this project almost 18 months ago by ordering a 20” x 24” camera, it's been non-stop ever since. And now, I’m struggling to get the look and feel on these large plates that I want. It’s 99% technical mostly a lens issue. I need a lens that will cover the plate and allow me to compose the image in a way that I’m happy with it. It’s more difficult than it sounds.

Normally, it wouldn’t be a problem. I would have plenty of time to resolve any technical or aesthetic issue I might have. However, I’ve got an exhibition opening on March 14, 2012 in Paris, France at Centre-Iris Gallery. I find myself anxious and preoccupied regarding how the images will look for the exhibition. I see them in my mind, I just need to get them on the glass and metal! 

Having been in Denver for six months doesn’t help me either. I need time to build connections and find the right people to photograph. And now it’s winter, the days are short. At best, there’s about three hours of good light to work with. I will say that there would be no better place to be than in Denver for light this time of year, when it’s shining, the bright blue sky is amazing. It means that the sitter I want to photograph must come to my studio within a certain window of time (1000 – 1300). That gets complicated and stressful, too.

These issues are forcing me to rethink how I work and what I work with. And how "exact" things have to be. I have a “King’s problem” and I understand that. I keep thinking, maybe in the end, I will make a far better body of work than if I had a year to work on it. We’ll see. 

This is a "working idea" - these will collect in my studio and I'll look at them over the next couple of months.

Here's a "taste" of what the show will be made up of - all 16" x 20" (40cm x 50cm) Wet Collodion plates.


University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder)

I was invited to do a lecture for the History of Photography class at CU Boulder in Boulder, Colorado. The students were very receptive and impressed me. It was mostly about my work and the processes that I use. Of course being a history of photography class, I gave my perspective on what's happened, what's happening now and what I think wil happen in the future. 

I packed some Ambrotypes, Tintypes, Albumen prints, Salt prints and even a faux Daguerreotype for them to handle and look at - they were like kids in a candy store. It was fun.

I'll return to CU Boulder soon to do another lecture. I had a good time and really enjoy sharing my work and talking about these processes. I hope to offer the students/school something very unique in the future, we're working on it now. 

A big thanks to Jeanne for helping me and listening to my lecture for 1000th time! I love you! And thanks for the photos, too!

Quinn starts his presentation at CU Boulder's History of Photography class. Photo by Jeanne Jacobson


Back In The Saddle

After almost six years, I'm back in America and teaching Wet Plate Collodion to Americans, again. It feels good.

I held the first (of many) Wet Plate Collodion workshop in my studio from September 3 - 6, 2011. It was a great feeling to be back and to speak the language, understand the culture and have people laugh at my jokes. I had some fantastic people in the workshop, too. A big thanks to Chris Kirk, Rob Perisho, Jeff Graves and Izah Gallagher. They're great people with a great Collodion future ahead of them! I hope to see them all again in my studio soon!

 Summer preps varnish while the rest of the crew are cutting and cleaning glass, (left to right) Jeff Graves (Broomfield, Co), Rob Perisho (Chicago, Il), Chris Kirk (Austin, Texas), Izah Gallagher (Denver, Co), and Summer Jacobson (Denver, Co).

 This was just a joke. I thought it was kind of funny. Herr Graves drying his Clear Glass Ambrotypes.Summer helps Chris with varnishing. Chris did some of the finest varnishing I've ever seen (not kidding). "My GrandDaddy's Hat" Izah shows off her wonderful self-portrait. Whole Plate Black Glass Ambrotype.Chris makes a portrait of Summer as Jesse watches. The EXTREME Denver UV made using natural light a no brainer - really gorgeous images!"Cowboy" 7x5 Alumitype by Chris Kirk"Cowboy" 5x7 Alumitype by Izah Gallagher.

Summer Jacobson, September 4, 2011 Denver, Colorado - photo by Chris Kirk

Rob Perisho, September 3, 2011 Denver, Colorado - photo by Quinn Jacobson


If you're interested in joining me for a workshop/course in a historic photographic process like Daguerreotypy, Calotypy, Wet Plate Collodion, Albumen Printing and/or Salt Printing, keep your eye on this link or send me an email and we'll get you in! I have a nice big (safe) well lighted studio in the RiNo District in Denver, Colorado.