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Monday, May 20th, 2024

I nearly missed the Aurora Borealis in Austria, but then it blew me away.

It all started when a friend texted me that I should go outside and capture today’s auroras. We call them Polarlichter here in Austria. Honestly, I would have totally forgotten about it when she wouldn’t have notified me. I had a look outside my north facing window ant did not see anything. I told her, that there is nothing to see here. She insisted (I am grateful for that) I must go. So I packed two cameras and a tripod and walked slowly to the Danube. On the way I met a woman who approached me (because she saw me with my camera) and told me that there is nothing to see. I was tempted to go back, but because I was already close to the Danube, I just kept walking. Finally I arrived at the Danube and I saw nothing. I set up my tripod and did the first exposure for about 5 seconds aaaand I saw nothing. I looked again on the screen of my camera and magnified the image. Wait, there is something there. So I changed the camera and used a wide angle lens and did a 30 second exposure.
And there it was, my first ever captured Aurora Borealis. This is very exciting, because we don’t normally see them her ein Austria. So I started with a panorama.

My first capture of an aurora borealis, this was just the start.

You can imagine, that I was hooked after I saw the first little greens and purples in the sky.
Because the light pollution was a bit to much where I was, I moved to a different place and set up my tripod again. It was past midnight already and nearly pitch black at my new location. A very loud splash scared me for a second, but then I remembered that I was standing close to a beaver’s lodge. And behind me there was a lot going on coming from the forrest. I guessed that there were some deers back there. After getting comfortable in the dark I focused back on capturing the sky. And with that I captured my second panorama.

More and more colours were popping up and I got more and more excited.

Right after I captures this wonderful happening, my waiting was rewarded. A fully illuminated cruise ship passed by. I rubbed my eyes and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In this moment I knew, that I had to act fast, or I miss this opportunity. So I set up my camera, pressed the shutter button and waited for the exposure to end. I felt like these 25 seconds took forever. The outcome was a wonderful capture that looked like something from outer space.

I love the outcome of this exposure.

As lots of you know, that I am very passionate about my wet plate portraits. But this image got me very excited and happy as well. It really paid out that I moved myself from my living room to the Danube.
At this moment it gets better every minute. The sky turned from pitch black to red, purple and pink. Now the aurora borealis was here with its full glory. I was so happy, excited and amazed. Please remember, we don’t ever see this happening in our latitude. So I set up my camera for the next camera and kept shooting.

At this moment the sky was bright red. I could see and capture all these beautiful colours in the sky.

After that, I shot some more panoramas and single images of the forrest and the water (check the gallery bellow) At about 2:30am I just sat there and enjoyed the show. Sitting all by myself there, it felt like I got a private aurora show just for me.
On my way home I passed a little project from our community. We called it Nützlingswiese, I think the English term is beneficial insect meadow. Just a home for insects. We have lots of them on our fields as well, but this one was on my way home on a playground. I set up my camera again and tried to light it with my phone. That was a bit more complicated than I imagined. For sure, I could have just used the first capture and edit myself out of the image, but thats not who am I. So I wanted to capture it again in camera. Now thinking of it made me lough a lot. Just imagine a guy running around for about 30 minutes with a flashlight on a playground at 3am in the morning. After changing my angle of view for two times, this effort also paid of.

My last capture on my way home.

For me this was a one in a lifetime moment. I am so glad that I went out there to capture the sky above my hometown and gor rewarded with something that may not happen again here. My Facebook posting got a huge amount of interactions and lots of people around my area wrote that they regretted not leaving their home. I also did a short video of my captured, so you guys can enjoy it on your big screen.



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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in nature | Comment now »

     

    Saturday, May 4th, 2024

    World Wet Plate Day 2024 – my plate

    This year I had to shoot my plate for the WWPD very early, because I was booked the whole WWPD. So I shot this one some minutes after midnight. Happy World Wet Plate day everyone. The wet plate force is strong in that one! For more wet plates from the WWPD visit: https://www.wetplateday.org/

    MayThe4th be with you “floating lens”

    I did live stream it, here you can watch the recording

    Markus Hofstätter
    Markus Hofstätter

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

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

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

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in alumitype, preparation, star wars, wetplate | Comment now »

     

    Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

    spring dreaming – a tintype story

    For me, the snowdrop is the first sign of spring. And when I see them bloom I know that spring is close and the beautiful time of the year is in front of us. It’s not there, but in my dreams it is. Thats how I came up with the idea. And a dream has to have a dreamy look. If you want to buy this plate or see it in person, visit me at the Vienna Vintage Photography Fair.. You can also get your tintype portrait taken there.

    I put a lot of time and energy into this project to archive the result I had in my mind. I always have to go all the way. This can be exhausting, but it’s the only way I know. Beside that, its also not the easiest thing to shoot a macro with an 180 year old lens. I was so happy to see the result and this assured me that all the efforts were worth it. Join my Patreon page if you want to get more background information about how I created these plates.

    spring dreaming tintype by Markus Hofstaetter

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

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

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  • Get cool analog shirts here http://shirts.mhaustria.com
  • Posted by Markus | Filed in preparation | Comment now »

     

    Friday, January 5th, 2024

    Darkroom ventilation and humidity control

    This topic sounds very simple but is probably more complicated than you thought. In this case I will explain the solution for my darkroom, but it could also be a solution for other cases.
    In this video I show you the construction (with a nice fail) process and the whole ventilation system including how I reduce humid air in my darkroom. Underneath I share some additional information to the video.

    As said in the video, if you work with chemicals like ether and alcohol, a mask alone is sometimes not enough. Because when there ar enough fumes in the room, your skin will absorb them and that way it could damage your liver. Thats the reason I always ventilated my pouring room in-between bigger wet plate sessions. When you ventilate typically with an open window, you will cool down or heat up the room (depending on the season), beside that you get for sure some dust into your rooms. Luckily my friend Wolfgang has a company ( https://www.leit-wolf.at ) who is specialised in how ventilations system and opened my eyes. Thanks a lot for that! Let’s start with the preparation. To make this ventilation system work, I needed some holes and for that I commissioned a company to do some core drilling.

    I marked the places for the ventilation pipes, so the company knows where to do the core drilling, so there are no electric wires in the way (sarcasm – see why in the video)
    to make the drilling as precise as possible for the ventilation system, I ordered the “shell installation kit WS 75 RSAP” https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/details/p/shell-installation-kits-g61068/ws-75-rsap-p124746 this makes masking the holes very easy
    this monster of a core drilling machine made it possible to get fresh air into my darkroom.
    Because every hole needed to be drilled wet, they brought also vacuum machine that sucks all the dirt and water in. In any way you will get lots of dirt into your room, but they cleaned up very well.
    after all holes were drilled, I mounted the shell installation kit and glued the ventilation pipes into the wall. For sure not my most beautiful job, but at the end everything worked as expected.
    The next step was to mount the Ventilation unit on the wall. I chose the “Ventilation unit Maico WS 75 Powerbox H” because it has a heat recovery that reduces the cooldown of the rooms. There are also dust filters build in. Beside that it only consumes between 5,2 and 11,5 Watt. You can find lots of information about how to set it up (video and documentation) here: https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/details/p/ventilation-units-g61071/ws-75-powerbox-h-p124754 – just click on Downloads/Videos. You can also switch the website to different languages.
    Here you can see the nearly finished ventilation system. The rectangular part near the floor is a silencer that makes the very silent ventilation system even more quiet.
    one of the last steps was the initial configuration of the ventilation system. Like moste things today, thes is pretty high tech as well and you only can set it up with a computer.
    The system comes with a control panel (https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/details/p/control-panel-g61464/rls-g1-ws-p125256) that shows the status and also lets you control the unit. I bought a voc sensor for my unit ( https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/details/p/sensors-g61463/ws-75-voc-p125253 ) This measures the volatile organic compounds in the air. It’s measured with ppm (parts per million). The higher the ppm, the more the air will circulate through the rooms. That means, if I pour some plates and the sensor “smells” the ether, the ventilation system turns up the power.
    outside I mounted the Combi-wall connections Duo KWS E (https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/p/combination-wall-connections-g66762/duo-kws-e-p119350) This avoids that animals would use my ventilation system for some sleepy time. But it also avoids an “air short”.

    The finished ventilation system blows fresh air into my studio and sucks it through my darkroom and pouring room back outside. With that I have always fresh air in my workplace. My studio is a pretty new building, but the other parts are old and are more humid. While ventilating in the winter mostly “dry” air comes into the rooms and there is mostly no need for the dehumidifier to start. Only when the relative humidity is about 60% I start an automation that checks how much my photovoltaic power plant is genarating and if the sound generates enough energy, I start to dehumidify my darkroom

    But when is it save to ventilate? I learned a lot and thought I just check the humidity outside and inside. And if the relative humidity is lower outside, I thought its save to ventilate. But I was totally wrong, you have to calculate the absolute humidity with a calculator like that. https://www.omnicalculator.com/physics/absolute-humidity

    The absolute humidity is measured in g/m3 and it changes with the air temperature. Here are two examples:

    lets assume it’s winter and it has 8 degrees outside with 70% relative humidity for some funny reason. Even your relative humidity is lower than the outside, its save to ventilate if you want to get the humidity down.
    Now the relative humidity outside is much lower than inside, but the absolute humidity is because of the temperature much higher. If you want to reduce humidity in your room, that it would be the wrong time to ventilate. I am working with a friend of mine on a script that compares the absolute humidity from inside and outside and when it’s save to ventilate you can start an automation or get a notification. I will upload it here.
    It was lots of work (See also my other darkroom article https://blog.markus-hofstaetter.at/2023/12/my-new-easy-to-use-darkroom/ ) but now I am super happy with the solution. With the whole new darkroom finished I am like a little kit when I start to work there.

    I hope this was helpful for you guys as well.
    If you want to support me, you can do that on my Patreon page here: http://patreon.mhaustria.com

  • 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
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    Monday, March 27th, 2023

    Sad News, DPReview is closing its doors

    Amazon is closing dpreview.com, I never thought such a standard in this industry will be gone in a few days. I put my thoughts in a video. This is frustrating for me, because such a great source of information soon is no more

  • 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
  • Posted by Markus | Filed in video | Comment now »

     

    Thursday, January 26th, 2023

    Photograph of the year

    woohooo – how cool is that. My wet plate portrait made it to the photograph of the year. Thanks to all of you who voted for me and also thanks to Simone Stecher for this nice interview. You can find the digital Version of the interview here: https://news.wko.at/news/niederoesterreich/Der-Geschichten-Erzaehler.html

    Posted by Markus | Filed in preparation | Comment now »

     

    Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

    Darkroom Home Automations

    Even I am an analog guy, I am not shy to bring new technologies to my darkroom. With the wet collodion process I always try to avoid touching anything unnecessarily. So I build some home automations to assist me with that. Every analog photographer knows the struggle. You work in your darkroom and in this very moment you don’t want to be disturbed. Just imagine, somebody opening the door and your film/paper/plate is exposed to light. For sure, you just can mount a red light on the entrance door and you are safe. But in my case (and I am pretty sure I am not the only one), I have a main entrance to the darkroom and two other doors. One door leads to my studio and the other door to my pouring room. That means if any of these doors are open, it is safe to enter the darkroom. If I just would have a red light on the main entrance door, it would be hard to understand for my workshop participants or sitters if it is safe to enter. Thats the reason I build a solution for that with Apple Homekit (you for sure can build it also with Google/Alex or anything else). But there is more. We all have running water in our Darkrooms. And I think some people will have a water detector. But what if you have to wash something with running water and are not in your darkroom all the time? I used Homekit for that as well. I show you also a solution for measuring time without touching anything. This may be very specific to the wet collodion process, but maybe it may be helpful for others as well. The last topic is about how I feel more safe with my 3D printer.

    I looked also for Google/Alexa devices, but most of them are working with wifi instead of low power bluetooth or thread. So I am not sure if I want to recommend any of these, please let me know which ones work great and I post them here.

    Works with Homekit: Eve Energy power switch
    International https://amzn.to/3BfCqIH Germany: https://amzn.to/3cEAH5s
    Eve Door sensor
    International https://amzn.to/3J3MV3S Germany: https://amzn.to/3b4PiXu
    Eve Waterguard
    Inernational: https://amzn.to/3Pxnn1n Germany: https://amzn.to/3POEJHv
    Eve smoke is not available right now, I found only this alternative from Netatmo
    https://amzn.to/3Ou6T8Z

    Works with Homekit and Google/Alexa
    Philips Hue lightstrip
    International: https://amzn.to/3J7jnlR Germany https://amzn.to/3cGmZzd
    Philips Hue Bridge
    International: https://amzn.to/3z6bYP9 Germany: https://amzn.to/3cxRdEl
    Philips hue switch
    International https://amzn.to/3b1NGxY Germany: https://amzn.to/3Ox1kGX

    Apple Watch app https://apps.apple.com/de/app/click-metronome/id705075264

    Water resistant JBL BT Speaker (new version
    International: https://amzn.to/3Be74Cj Germany: https://amzn.to/3J4DKjA

  • 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
  • Posted by Markus | Filed in 3d print, collodion, darkroom, nassplatte | 4 Comments »

     

    Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

    Great Exhibitions in Austria with my Portraits and more

    I am very exited about these exhibitions! In the first exhibition, at the beautiful Ottenstein Castle are presented 5 pieces of my work. This place is amazing! The exhibition in Persenbeug shows 10 huge pieces of my work directly at the Danube – the exhibition is called Kopf Herz Hand (Head Heart Hand) and is about passionate artists. The Festival La Gacilly in Baden is also a must see. With 7km length and about 1500 images it is amazing. I had my Work there shown the last three years, but did not make it this year.

  • 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
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    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
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    Thursday, June 10th, 2021

    Congrats to Albin Ouschan World Pool Champion and World Number One

    The title says it all. Congrats Albin!

    I did this portrait series 8 years ago and it is still one of my favourite portraits of him.

    Posted by Markus | Filed in preparation | Comment now »