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Thread: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

  1. #1

    Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    Hi there,

    I have been a member of the forum for a few years (just reading until now) but have never worked in large format beyond a bit of experimentation at University. I am now working on a documentary on the life and work of early 20th-century photographer Olive Edis for the BBC, part of which involves the use of Olive's equipment, preferably using glass plates. As the photographer in the company it has fallen to me to undertake the challenge. I am in the process of learning how to do this, using liquid emulsion to coat half-plates of 2mm glass, first trials begin on Friday in a local darkroom. Although i have done my research in advance I am hoping someone here may be based in East Anglia (we are filming in Norwich so perperations will happen here) with experience of coating glass plates and/or working with an early 1900's half plate cameras. It would be great to have a local source for advice, and possibly to help with the production on practical aspects of creating these images. We are working to a tight schedule and filming is most likely to take place 6th/7th of Feb with the preperations over the next few weeks. If anyone thinks they can help please get in touch, (on here or email cameron@eyefilm.co.uk) Thanks very much (I will post details of the documentary on the forum once they are confirmed as it may be of interest to members)

    Thanks

    Cameron

  2. #2

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    Re: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    I've no experience myself, but a friend Henry Iddon has recently been working on a similar project with the camera used by the Abraham brothers of Keswick. I'm sure he'd be keen to help.

    His website is here: http://www.henryiddon.com/Instanto-Outdoors

    Recent news item: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDURr_CEPrc

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    Joanna Carter's Avatar
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    Re: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    He's not local but, IMO, John Brewer would take some beating for depth of knowledge on wet plate

    http://www.johnbrewerphotography.com...dion-workshops
    Joanna Carter
    Grandes Images

    UKLFPG

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    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanna Carter View Post
    He's not local but, IMO, John Brewer would take some beating for depth of knowledge on wet plate

    http://www.johnbrewerphotography.com...dion-workshops
    Early 20th century photographers were using Dry plates not Wet plates . . . . . . . . . .

    Ian

  5. #5

    Re: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    Thanks for the responses, Indeed Ian I am hoping to make Dry plates and Andy thanks for the link to Henry Iddon, looks like it may be useful and amazing climbing photographs!
    Any other contacts would be greatly appreciated.

  6. #6
    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    You could try contacting Denise Ross in the US, she has a website The Light Farm a great resource dedicated to coating plates and films. She maybe able to give you a name of someone near you in the UK.

    It's just over 30 years since I last made emulsions or I might have been able to help with coating some plates. By the beginning of the 20th century British field cameras had become quite practical and easy to use and were usually fitted with a Thornton Pickard or similar roller blind shutter behind the lens, typically Rapid Rectilinear lenses. Although as newer lenses with leaf shutters became available they took over. So an early 20th C camera is going to be quite easy to use, I have a few quarter, half and whole plate etc so that's from experience.

    Remember that by the era you're talking about no-one was coating their own plates, by then dry plates were very readily available from numerous companies around the country. So that raises the question of whether using film instead of plates in the appropriate book-form plate holders could be acceptable, it would be quite practical. You could still show glass plates.

    Ian

  7. #7

    Re: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    Quote Originally Posted by IanG View Post
    You could try contacting Denise Ross in the US, she has a website The Light Farm a great resource dedicated to coating plates and films. She maybe

    Remember that by the era you're talking about no-one was coating their own plates, by then dry plates were very readily available from numerous companies around the country. So that raises the question of whether using film instead of plates in the appropriate book-form plate holders could be acceptable, it would be quite practical. You could still show glass plates.

    Ian
    Thanks for the information Ian, yes from what I've seen of her cameras I think your right about the roller blind shutter etc so hearing speak about the ease of use is reassuring!
    I would agree that film could be most appropriate (and closer visually than liquid emulsion) however I think the team are keen to show how you can approach producing a glass plate now (as an aside to the main story) and i am quite keen to give the process a go as well, but we will be making it clear that she would have been buying her own plates (and we will be shooting film alongside the glass plates to keep our backs covered). Thanks for the info on The Light Farm, I will make contact with Denise as well.

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    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    There's some photos on APUG, showing Mark Osterman of George Eastman House (Rochester) hand coating glass plates. You'll probably find it very helpful.

    Ian

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    Re: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    I have always been impressed at how good the BBC and others in the UK have been in getting hold of the right cameras for the periods!

    You might want to think about setting-up an appropriate dark room. There are plenty of collectors of old equipment like:

    horizontal enlargers.
    safe lights.
    timers.

    They would be delighted to help.

    There are also many collectors of both boxes for dry plates and paper, which have long gone exotic company names and fanciful box decorations. Sometimes these are complete with internal wrappings and "Unexposed" plates.

    THe use of detailed props would give a lot in expanding the visual experience.

    A thought. This is the period of intense interest in colour photography. Olive didn't try with the new autochromes did she?

    It is a pity you have (had) such a short planning stage!

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    Re: Greetings from East Anglia, UK (Assistance with a Documentary appreciated)

    Having now looked up Olive Edis, I am a bit surprised by your original request!

    She had a very long and diverse career in photography and it is not clear which period you were interested in. This makes sensible suggestions very difficult as everything in photography changed during her active life in photography. Her early effective use of Autochromes would be impossible to simulate!

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