Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Building a Wet Plate Frankenstein Camera and Capture a Ghost

Corrine of www.corrinewestmedia.co.uk booked a wet plate workshop before the pandemic started. Two years later we were finally able to do it. The main subject was to get comfortable with the wet collodion process and to create images similar to the ones of spirit photographer William H. Mumler. Mr. Mumler created images (probably double exposures) where his clients could take a picture with their deceased relatives. The photograph of Mary Todd Lincoln with the “ghost” of her husband (Abraham Lincoln) was his most famous one. Corrine found my double exposure wet plates and that was the reason she contacted me in the first place. About two months before the workshop Corrine surprised me with a question: “Can we build a wet plate camera together?”. I talked with a friend and after a long visit at a DIY market I was sure that we can do it. A DIY Camera and capturing ghosts, that sounds like a fun workshop for me 🙂

I could not capture everything in the video, because I was focused to deliver a great workshop experience. So let me explain a bit here. I build a diy camera kit so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was important for me that we put the major parts together in person, to really create a camera and an understanding how a camera works.

the camera kit

It took me a long time to figure everything out, I wanted to create a diy camera, that is adaptable and upgradeable without any special parts. It also should be able to shoot portraits and landscape and if something breaks, just go to your diy marked and get a replacement part. The only thing needed is my self designed camera back. I wanted to invent/adapt something that you can get in the market, but I was without luck finding such a part. The 3D printed design took many hours and a lot of filament to work as expected.

The first prototype of the camera back with an international film holder

For the lens I went for a 150mm Leitz Dimaron (F2.8), Elmaron (F2.8) or Hektor (F2.5). These lenses have three things in common. 150mm is kind of a “normal” lens for the 4×5 large format and they all have the same diameter and not too expensive if you buy them online. All of them are pretty sharp as well as you could see in the video (this was a Dimaron)

one lens mount, lots of options without breaking the bank

The camera and lens support is build like this one in that posting: Camera and Lens support

For the Film/Plate holder I decided to go for the std international 4×5 holders. I had them water jet cut for a clean look and we modified it with silver wires, because these are more resistant against acid and fit into the silver nitrate workflow

std 4×5 film holder modified for the wet collodion process

We were super happy with our first result. The portrait looked awesome and the resolution of the lens is great. When you look closely at the video you will see, that we used two boxes for portrait distance.

the ground worked also great – here is a explanation how we did it
https://blog.markus-hofstaetter.at/2019/12/ho-to-make-a-ground-glass-for-a-large-format-camera/
For me it’s always exciting to see my idea come to life.

Here is a detail scan of Corrine’s eye – pretty impressive result of a 4×5 plate shot with a self made camera and a projection lens.

a scan of Corrine’s eye with my Screen Cezanne Scanner

For the spirit photographs that are inspired by Mr. Mumler we wend for wet plate double exposures.
To make our live easier, we marked all positions with sticky tape on the ground.

tape is always your friend for any photography project

We decided to use my Dallmeyer 3B Petzval lens for the first double exposure, because it fits better to the time when the original images were captured.

William H. Mumler. inspired wet plate double exposure

The second double exposure was a bit more modern, but also should get the ghost look. For that we used a Zeiss 300mm F4.5 Tessar lens. This lens is pretty new (about 2ß-30 years old) and is very crisp. I thought that makes more sense for this kind of image and also fits to the story (see caption of the image)

Profession – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow An image about photography has changed

What a great 3 Day workshop that was. We created so many different portraits. (more in the gallery) and time flew so fast. At this point I want to say thanks again to Corrine for visiting my workshop and trusting me with the camera design. I looking forward to see what she will do for her PHD with the wet collodion process.

  • Get yourself a beautiful print here: http://prints.mhaustria.com

  • Find all the tools I use here : http://list.mhaustria.com

  • Looking for wet plate gear? http://gear.mhaustria.com

  • Buy me a tea: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/mhaustria

  • Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mhaustria

  • Get cool analog shirts here http://shirts.mhaustria.com

  • 26 Responses to “Building a Wet Plate Frankenstein Camera and Capture a Ghost”

    1. May 5th, 2022 at 20:10

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Photography Review - newscontinue said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    2. May 5th, 2022 at 20:12

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Photography Review - swifttelecast said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    3. May 5th, 2022 at 20:33

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing ‘ghosts’: Digital Photography Review – TechReviewJournals said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    4. May 5th, 2022 at 20:34

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Photography Review - Twelve 27 Shop said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    5. May 5th, 2022 at 20:41

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Photography Review - Goanam said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    6. May 5th, 2022 at 20:51

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Photography Review said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, 'I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was important for […]

    7. May 5th, 2022 at 20:52

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing ‘ghosts’: Digital Photography Review - 50mm V-blog Per Minute said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    8. May 5th, 2022 at 21:07

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing 'ghosts' | iTech News said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    9. May 5th, 2022 at 21:07

      Video: Constructing a DIY moist plate digital camera and photographing ‘ghosts’: Digital Pictures Assessment – Kobliha Info said:

      […] to construct a digital camera and use it for double publicity moist plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I constructed a DIY digital camera equipment, so to say. However I didn’t wish to […]

    10. May 5th, 2022 at 21:29

      Video: Constructing a DIY moist plate digicam and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Pictures Overview - Interestity said:

      […] to learn to construct a digicam and use it for double publicity moist plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I constructed a DIY digicam package, so to say. However I didn’t wish to construct […]

    11. May 5th, 2022 at 22:07

      Video: Constructing a DIY moist plate digital camera and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Pictures Evaluate - Universelol said:

      […] to construct a digital camera and use it for double publicity moist plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I constructed a DIY digital camera package, so to say. However I didn’t wish to […]

    12. May 5th, 2022 at 22:45

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing ‘ghosts’ - Diem Press said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    13. May 5th, 2022 at 23:44

      Video: Constructing A DIY Moist Plate Digicam And Photographing 'ghosts': Digital Images Assessment said:

      […] ways to construct a digicam and use it for double publicity moist plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I constructed a DIY digicam package, so to say. However I didn’t need to construct […]

    14. May 5th, 2022 at 23:54

      Video: Constructing a DIY moist plate digital camera and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Pictures Evaluate - Thetrendydripstore said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    15. May 6th, 2022 at 00:05

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing ‘ghosts’ | Home decor, DIY, et al said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    16. May 6th, 2022 at 01:04

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing 'ghosts' - said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    17. May 6th, 2022 at 01:41

      Video: Constructing a DIY moist plate digital camera and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Pictures Evaluation - Eagle Eye Offers said:

      […] to construct a digital camera and use it for double publicity moist plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I constructed a DIY digital camera equipment, so to say. However I didn’t wish to […]

    18. May 6th, 2022 at 01:46

      Video: Constructing a DIY moist plate digital camera and photographing ‘ghosts’: Digital Pictures Assessment – hqwallbase said:

      […] to construct a digital camera and use it for double publicity moist plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I constructed a DIY digital camera package, so to say. However I didn’t wish to […]

    19. May 6th, 2022 at 02:52

      Video: Constructing a DIY moist plate digicam and photographing 'ghosts': Digital Images Assessment - Emporium Digital Online said:

      […] to learn to construct a digicam and use it for double publicity moist plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I constructed a DIY digicam equipment, so to say. However I didn’t need to construct […]

    20. May 6th, 2022 at 03:08

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing ‘ghosts’: Digital Photography Review – Sharkr said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    21. May 6th, 2022 at 05:14

      Video: Building a DIY wet plate camera and photographing ‘ghosts’: Digital Photography Review – The Connect Shop Online said:

      […] to learn how to build a camera and use it for double exposure wet plate portraits. Hofstaetter writes, ‘I built a DIY camera kit, so to say. But I did not want to build everything. It was […]

    22. May 7th, 2022 at 10:00

      Building a Wet Plate Frankenstein Camera and Shooting Ghost Photos - MB DROPS said:

      […] About the author: Markus Hofstaetter is a photographer who enjoys life and meeting people around the world. You can connect with him and find more of his work on his website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here. […]

    23. May 7th, 2022 at 11:15

      Eine Wet Plate Frankenstein Kamera bauen und Geisterfotos schießen – Svenger said:

      […] Über den Autor: Markus Hofstaetter ist ein Fotograf, der das Leben genießt und Menschen auf der ganzen Welt trifft. Sie können sich mit ihm verbinden und mehr von seiner Arbeit auf seiner finden Webseite, bloggen, Facebook, Twitterund Instagram. Dieser Artikel wurde ebenfalls veröffentlicht hier. […]

    24. May 7th, 2022 at 12:30

      Building a Wet Plate Frankenstein Camera and Shooting Ghost Photos - TEKANIYA 4U said:

      […] About the author: Markus Hofstaetter is a photographer who enjoys life and meeting people around the world. You can connect with him and find more of his work on his website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here. […]

    25. May 9th, 2022 at 04:15

      Building a Wet Plate Frankenstein Camera and Shooting Ghost Photos - GENCING said:

      […] About the author: Markus Hofstaetter is a photographer who enjoys life and meeting people around the world. You can connect with him and find more of his work on his website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here. […]

    26. May 9th, 2022 at 09:05

      I constructed a Frankenstein giant format moist plate digicam from scratch for photographing ghosts - Interestity said:

      […] work on Instagram or Fb or attain out to him by Twitter. This text was additionally revealed right here and shared with […]



    Please leave a Comment