Old meets new yet again in this successful science-cum-art project by self-professed photo nerd Jake Potts of Bruton Stroube Studios. He was able to create a unique iPhone design by developing its glass back cover via the wet collodion process! How geeky cool is that?
Potts wanted to set his ubiquitous iPhone apart from everyone else’s so, after realizing that the glass back cover was an ideal surface for it, he decided to make a photographic print by processing it like an ambrotype!
“To make an ambrotype, a piece of glass is coated with salted collodion, sensitized, placed into a camera and exposed like a piece of film. Then back in the darkroom, the glass plate is developed, fixed and washed. This process was invented in 1851 and has recently been embraced again by many artists and photographers for its unique aesthetic and hand-made quality.”
After getting an Apple-less replacement back cover, he got started by prepping the glass surface and setting up his studio.
“After the camera and lighting were placed, I went to the darkroom to prep the back. For the collodion to adhere, the glass has to be perfectly clean. A mixture of Calcium Carbonate, water and alcohol is used as a cleaner. With the glass clean, it was time to pour the collodion. The technique here determines how the final image will look. The goal is to pour enough collodion onto the plate and flow it from corner to corner evenly.”
“After the collodion is on the plate, it has to be sensitized, shot, and developed before the collodion dries, which is probably 10-15 minutes. Once sensitized, it has to stay in the dark to be loaded in the holder. The holder is then taken to the camera fitted with a lens that dates to 1872 (woah, camera nerd alert!) and the exposure is made. Back in the darkroom, the plate is taken out and developed. Development times are fast, around 15 seconds (unlike film which takes minutes). After development, you can turn the lights back on. Here’s what I saw:”
“The exposure looked good, the collodion stayed on the panel perfectly. Once the plate is placed in the fixer, the image reverses and a warm-toned image is revealed. The plate is washed, dried and then a protective varnish is applied. After the varnish dried, I installed the new back onto the phone.”
Pretty nifty and nerdy, huh? You might also like:
- Into the Darkroom: Daguerreotypes and the Beginnings of Photography
- How Tintype Photographs Are Made
- Luo Dan: Simple Song and Wet Plate Collodion