Olde wet plate collodion meets modern technology.

Photographer Geoffrey O’Donnell has turned back the clocks and brought 19th century photography to 21st century people.


O’Donnell is currently working at Viewpoint Handmade Gallery in Bendigo.

Last Friday night the artist gave a comprehensive talk and demonstration of his practice. Reminiscent of a scientist from days gone by, he showed his captivated audience bottles containing chemicals such as ether and explained the precautions needed when dealing with silver nitrate.

Wet plate collodion photography requires patience and extreme care beginning with the cleaning of the glass plate, positioning of a model into a vice like machine, painting of the plate with chemicals, capturing the image (where the model needs to keep still for 8 seconds) using an exquisitely built, huge craftsman built camera (gorgeous wood and metal and glass), and finally fixing and developing the image in the portable darkroom.

Once the glass plate is dry and ready for prints to be taken of it, O’Donnell then embraces modern technology by then scanning his glass negatives into Photoshop in order to perfect his images, if need be, before getting the prints produced at an external printers. He does this when he wants images for promotional purposes (see his comment below).

I particularly loved the image of a young woman on the wall of the gallery that has been printed onto metal, once again evoking a photographic style from days gone by.

To see the process and perhaps organise your own period style photograph, contact Viewpoint Gallery or phone the artist on 0428 812 408.

Published by sharongreenaway

Bachelor of Visual Arts (Photography), Latrobe University.

3 thoughts on “Olde wet plate collodion meets modern technology.

  1. Thanks for the article, Sharon! My favourite aspect is the reflection of all the faces in the glass focusing screen. I’ve always loved seeing layers of elements in visual art, especially layers of transparency and reflection, and this is a cracker.
    Just to clarify, the digital scanning and printing is a very rare part of the process. Usually the original plate is the finished result, but occasionally I’ll scan and retouch if I plan to make prints for promotional purposes.
    Again, awesome write-up!


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