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Archive for the 'Carl Zeiss Tessar' Category

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Inspired Series – Henrik Brahe and Gerhad Sokol

My inspired series is going on slowly, but for sure I captured wonderful people on metal plates. First you see Henrik Brahe. An archaeologist and photographer from Portugal. He brought me a wonderful book of his work. Find out more about him at He visited with his beautiful wife Sanne. I could not resist to capture them together as well.

Gerhard Sokol is a well know photographer who captured history with his work. But after all these years in photography, he did not stop there, he went on to work with lots of different techniques. He also published a book recently that tis worth to buy. you can find his work and book on

More information about the Book (with beautiful prints and stories) and the Inspired Series:

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    Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

    Building a Wet Plate Frankenstein Camera and Capture a Ghost

    Corrine of 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
    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.

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    Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

    Never give up – a 300mm Zeiss Tessar project with lots of fails

    In todays video I documented my fails (wood working and 3d printing with sidewinder x1 – also building plate change of the sidewinder x1) while I tried to mount my new lens on my camera. I got this lens, because I do more and more wet plate family portraits and for that I wanted a sharp affordable lens. Normally I would show you guys how I did a family wet plate portrait(its online now, scroll down for the second part). But I couldn’t do it, because of our lockdowns. So I worked on a self portrait. To make this easier, I turned my studio into a darkroom, so I can move without getting a ghosty image on the plate. Because I put metal sheets into the ceiling during my studio renovation, I could mount the red light easily with magnets. To see the whole story, watch the video 🙂

    First Part

    Second Part

    To find all the tools I used, check

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    Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

    a 170 year old process and high end food photography

    everybody knows that I work exclusively on collodion wet plate portraits. So what’s the reason for food photography now? Let me try to explain. Many of you guys will remember that I bought a Cambo studio stand some while ago ( ). A little bit later I bought a used tray for it on Ebay. The seller was very friendly and somehow we started to talk about photography. Long story short, a month later we decided to do a project together. After months of planing, Hans Gerlach (a well known food photographer and columnist) drove over to my studio and brought his tools and some delicious food with him. Additional food for this shooting came from my garden, this way I could bring a bit more into the project besides my wet plate photography. During the planing period we discussed different dishes, their colours and how they would appear on a tintype (the wet collodion process only sees blue light and therefore red colours will turn black and blue white). We saw this come together as kind of a first test and wanted to see what what we could create. For me it was very interesting to have a chef working in my kitchen.

    I enjoyed it a lot to watch a chef doing his thing

    I suggested the 13x18cm format, because the camera is not too huge and can be easy mounted over head. We can get a bit more depth of field because of this smaller format. And I have a beautiful 250mm Zeiss Tessar lens that I can stop down to about F16 without having to long exposure times (two Hensel generators with 9000 w/s together helped to archive that and remember, its called wet plate, because the plate needs to be wet the whole time and can not dry). I mounted this beauty of a lens on my 13x18cm Mentor camera (check this article for my renovation of the beauty: )

    Even I know the Cambo tripod and the Mentor camera is made for such operation, it still looks a bit scary

    Even this studio Mentor camera and the tripod are meant for that kind of work, it felt funny to see my tools in that position.

    While I prepared everything in my darkroom, Hans Gerlach did his magic in my kitchen. We were very excited to work on the first plate. And after we saw the result, we were even more excited, the outcome was gorgeous. So we worked very long on the first day (I think I went to bed at 4 am). But it was not all glory. We shot so many plates, that at some point my silver nitrate bath went bad. First I thought it was the collodion, the fixer and the developer, but after I changed all of that(I am always good prepared for important shootings and create everything twice or even three times) and still got funny looking plates, I know I need to change the silver nitrate bath.

    A lot of troubleshooting was involved to make this go away

    After I changed the bath, everything was fine again and we could go on with the shooting.

    sourdough bread with butter and welsh onion

    We shot many different styles of the sourdough bread until we were happy with the outcome. This is one of our favourites plates. To hold it in our hands after months of planing and all the work we put together was wonderful. If you are interested in a print of this plate or any other, check out this link:

    But this little setback should not be the only thing that kept me busy this day. After shooting many plates, my modified wet plate holder made my life a bit harder. Sometimes the plate won’t stay in place and the end result of that was a scratched plate….

    this is something every wet plate artist have to face from time to time

    I quickly solved the problem with a little redesign on the plate holder and from that on I was able to shoot without any problem. Before capturing every new dish, we were excited to see how it will turn out.
    And most of them turned out great, I really like the beans and the spoon with chocolate mousse. The sheer amount of detail and texture of these scans from the wet plates are just incredible. They will look amazing on a big print.

    green beans with whipped goat cheese and fennel flowers
    This will look great on a big canvas

    spoon with chocolate mousse grated chocolate

    To get as much done as possible, I scanned all 13x18cm (about 200mpix) and 18x24cm (about 300mpix, I decided later to do two bigger plates too) plates at night and also varnish them afterwards. So this night was quite short 🙂

    I shot the bigger plates with a 150 year old Dallmeyer 2b Petzval lens to mix the this delicious bread with the beautiful swirly bokeh from this old lens. I really like how this plate turned out and how the out of focus areas look like.

    sourdough bread with welsh onion and radishes
    It amazes me again and again how sharp these old lenses are

    After these intense shoots, we were always rewarded with great looking plates amazing tasting food.

    I am still dreaming f that desert

    Hans created also amazing tasting handmade pasta

    culurgiones – sardinian ravioli with wild herbs

    To give you guys a much better idea of this shooting, I tried to captures as much footage as possible to bring you behind the scenes with this video

    On thing is sure, we enjoyed our work together a lot and will do more like that in the future, but that needs again lots of planning. I am very happy that I met Hans and his work inspired me (yes there is also a inspired portrait coming up). I really look forward to our next shooting together (and yes, I also look forward to eat everything 🙂

    Because I get asked very often about the tools I use for the wet plate process, I created a shopping list here:

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    Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

    Shooting Wet Plate Portraits with an affordable Large Format Bokeh Monster

    I should stop calling these “Short Projects” short projects. It didn’t take that long, but still longer as expected.
    After I bought it at the Camera Obscura Festival
    But I still think if you are looking for a affordable large format wet plate camera, you should have a look at the Mentor camera brand. Most of them are build like a tank (Remember, I got another Mentor too, where I did double exposures with: and easy to repair. The cool thing of this camera is the curtain shutter and strobe connector. It has also all movements you can imagine, great for architecture, product (or food) photography.
    For the wet plate process, you want to look for a fast lens, but these are mostly pretty expensive. Thats why projection lenses are a good options, but most of them are triplet designs – but there are others too, like the Leitz Hektor 200mm F 2.5 that covers 13x18cm plates in portrait distance easily and has 4 glass elements instead of the classic triplets. be aware that the depth of field is razor thin on that lens. I have a second one for sale here with other camera gear I only use very rarely. So I would be happy if this finds someone who uses it again. I just collected to much gear….
    In the video, I show you how I repair all the little blemishes of the camera and add two Lenses to it. I even build two lens plateadapters. One to mount lenses from my Century camera to the Mentor and one to mount Linhof Lenses to the Century camera. Check my Thingverse too, I will post some of them there if I am happy with them. . The more I get comfortable with my 3D printer the more I use it, that reflects also in this project. Even some prints take pretty long (my longest one was 16 hours), it saves me lots of time, because I can do different things in-between. And some of the designs would have been much harder to create with traditional wood/metal working.
    I really like how the camera, lens plates and wet plate holder turned out. This will be used on many during my workshops (for English ones contact me here)in the future And I am also very happy that Tanja of helped me out to model for me. Thanks a lot!
    If you liked this kind of projects and want to support my upcoming ones, you ca do that here

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