Markus Hofstaetter's blog » analog photography

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 ( ) 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” 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: – 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 ( that shows the status and also lets you control the unit. I bought a voc sensor for my unit ( ) 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 ( 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.

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 ) 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:

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    Wednesday, December 20th, 2023

    My new easy to use Darkroom

    After moth of renovating my Darkroom, I am finally finished with it and can show you what I did to make my life easier.

    One of the main things in a darkroom is the sink. I looked for age to get a fitting one, but couldn’t find any. But my good friend Lois knows somebody who knows somebody and with that I got a custom made sink that was a lifesaver. Thanks a lot for that!

    Fitting everything in a small space is making everything more easy.
    Another thing that made my life easier is the Darkroom Winch that you can get here: This saves so much time, because otherwise I would be standing there for hours rocking trays.
    Beside rocking trays, washing prints and plates is another thing that has to be done, thats why I build this watering system out of plumber pipes from the diy marked. I am sure you can find yourself similar parts near you. I only had to drill holes into the pipe and find some kind of holder for it.
    I just had to get an old stop watch for my darkroom and this one from Junghans fits just perfectly in there.
    Dangerous chemicals need to be locked up, thats why I use an NFC lock with my stainless steel cabinet (links to the lock and 3d print files can be found at the end of my article)
    Red light, yellow light, bright light, dark light – all these scenarios are possible with my Philips hue system that I use in my darkroom. Just with the click of a button I change to whatever color I need and I also build a protection cover, so nobody accidentally changes from red to white. You will find all prints on my thingiverse:
    Humidity and temperature can have an impact of your work and also can have an impact of the darkroom. With this sensor I can easily read the values and can create automation because of it. More about that in my second darkroom video that focuses mainly on ventilation and how to save money with that.

    Here are all the links to the tools I used, consider buying that stuff locally as well.
    For easier user I use my Amazon affiliate links.

    Darkroom automation video:
    Darkroom Timer video:
    My Thingyverse:
    Darkroom Winch
    Stainless Steel cabinet:
    Curly hose with spray gun: International: German:

    Door Sensor International: German:
    Thermometer – Hygrometer International: German:

    NFC cabinet lock International: German:
    Squeege International: German:
    Hue bridge (needed for the lights): International: German:
    Hue lightstrip International: German:
    Hue Bulb International: German:
    Hue dimmer switch International: German:
    Silvos Silver nitrate stain remover

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in analog, collodion, darkroom, diy, tutorial, wetplate, workshop | Comment now »


    Wednesday, December 13th, 2023

    Decision of Power or how to chose between Windows or a Mac

    Why did I do this project?

    I was interested to work with ai on a local system instead of all these cloud solutions, where you often don’t know what happens with your data. My first contact with local ai solutions was pinokio, a system that automates localized ai installations. Pinokio runs lots of python scripts locally and I have lots of respects of these scripts, because they could do anything on your system. That’s one reason why I wanted to run them on a non productive computer of mine. The second reason is, that lots ai models rely on Nvidias Cuda cores and wont even run on a Mac. The third reason is that I thought that I can speed up my workflow with very large scans with a system that has more ram (I was wrong on that one).

    Reasons for the hardware I chose

    For the reasons mentioned above, I wanted a Nvidia card. Nvidia are producing cards that are made especially for ai work (Nvidia A series), but these cards are very expensive. The high end gaming cards like the RTX 4080 and 4090 are also pretty expensive and are as well very energy hungry. So my decision went to the RTX 4060ti with 16 gigabytes of ram. The internet is full of hate for this card, because it’s too expensive for what it delivers on gaming. But gaming is not an important part for me. The 16 gigabyte of ram are essential for ai models and the low power (compared to 4070 and above) consumption is another thing that made it more compelling for me. My CPU choice, the i7 13700kf was done because of a great offer I got. I hoped the new Intel 14th generation will consume less power, but that was not the case. Maybe AMD would have been a better choice for less power consumption…

    Mainboard wise I went for ASUS, because I had good experiences with this brand many years ago. I think hardware wise, they are still great, but software wise I am not sure anymore (I dont want to go down in that rabbit hole today). 

    To make the system as silent as possible I went for an aio (al in one) water cooling from Artic / the Artic freezer 240 and the Be Quiet pure base 500 case. Both brands I know from back than and they are still great today. For the power, I went for the Corsair RM750x Shift Fully Modular ATX Power Supply, because the plugs are all on the side and much easier accessible than on usual power supplies. I calculated the needed power supply here.

    Here is the full list with my Amazon affiliate links. I always think it’s great to have also a look at local stores, but as an overview it’s easier to link to Amazon.

    Intel i7 13700kf
    International: Germany:

    Iceberg Thermal FUZEIce Plus High Performance Thermal Paste
    International: Germany:

    ASUS Prime B760-PLUS 
    International: Germany:

    GeForce RTX 4060 Ti Graphics Card 16GB 
    International: Germany:

    Crucial Pro RAM 64 GB Kit DDR5
    International: Germany:

    ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240
    International: Germany:

    International: Germany:

    Crucial P3 2TB PCIe Gen3 3D NAND NVMe M.2 SSD
    International: Germany:

    Corsair RM750x Shift Fully Modular ATX Power Supply
    International: Germany:

    be quiet! Pure Base 500
    International: Germany:

    I like simple and functional things. Like Burt Reynolds said in Smokey and the Bandit – Black is beautiful
    Finding all components without RGB was more difficult as I thought.

    How did I do the tests?

    As mentioned in the video, all my tests are not scientific in any case. I just wanted to see for myself how much of a difference such a machine makes to my workflow.
    All recordings were done remotely. That means, I connected with Microsoft Remote Desktop to the Windows machine and with the Apple Remote connections to the Mac Mini and MacBook.
    With that I wanted to make sure, that I don’t use to much computing power for the recording on the tested device.

    For the Lightroom tests, I used the images of my award ceremony where I saved all the changes to xml files, so all clients have the same work to do. I chose Lightroom for testing, because lots of analog photographers will do their scanning with a digital camera.

    The Lightroom test included images from my Canon 5D MKIV, MKIII and Canon M50

    As an analog photographer, especially with the wet plate process I work often with huge scans that I use for my talks, like my last one at the 8K Deep Space experience in the Ars Electronica Center.

    These huge scans turn out great for talks like that.

    With that big scans I experienced sometimes some slowdowns on my MacBook (So I thought). To make it more fair, I tested it with a 180 megapixel scan and  1.12 gigapixel scan. This test was for sure the least accurate one of them all. Because I did every step manually. That’s why I said the test times will vary up to 10 Seconds because of my click and work speed. But you will see that does not change anything on the results. 

    working with huge files is often challenging or most systems.

    Why did I measure power consumption?

    I think this is a part that lots of tests are not taking care of. I understand that time is money, but energy is as well. With the energy costs going up every year, it is an important topic to me. And when a device needs 5 or 20 times the power than another device, it makes a big difference. I think saving energy is an important task for everyone. I understand compared to big corporations (see my article here) this is nothing, but I still think we all can make a difference.

    And yes, my power consumption measurements aren’t scientific as well, but you get an idea about the difference. I used the same power plug on all computers, to avoid differences. And yes the power plug was called Windows computer, even a Mac was plugged in :). One more thing I closed the lid of the MacBook to only measure the consumption of the computer and not the display. With the display turned on at medium brightness it was only 2 to 4 watt more.

    Saving energy is a thing where all of us can contribute our part. In an upcoming video about my new dark room, I will show how I integrated energy saving on that as well.

    The results

    I am still surprised how well the base M2 Mac Mini with 8gb of Ram and a 256gb ssd held up. For under 600 Euros this is a great deal (also power consumption wise). If you invest 100 Euros on an external ssd, you can easily work with bigger scans in photoshop and will avoid the scratch disk is full message. 
    The second competitor to the windows machine is a MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro CPU. It has 16GB of ram and a 1TB ssd.

    Please be aware that the power consumption is only a snapshot from the time when the task was finished. But overall it reflects the consumption that was used.

    All three machines imported the images very quickly. But as you can see, the power consumption is on a totally different level. I use the M2 Mac mini with a “docking unit” that has an integrated SSD, thats the reason it consumes a bit more power than the MacBook
    Here you can see how the powerful Windows machine outperforms the Mac’s easily. But that reflects also in the power consumption.
    Again the Windows computer kills this task with only 17 seconds. That makes a big difference when you have to denise multiple files. I really love this new Lightroom feature. It’s a game changer for old cameras.
    Opening the 180 megapixel image, zooming in and out, duplicating the layer, applying dust and scratches and painting in a mask and saving the file afterwards again. Again the windows machine shows again that it can outperform its competitors. But the Mac’s crush the windows machine power consumption wise.

    The tasks were the same, but the file size very differrent. The 1.12 gigapixel psb file has over 12gb. After all the Lightroom tasks and the previous photoshop actions on the large scan, the Mac mini ran out of space on the ssd and got a scratch disk full message. With a bigger external ssd you could avoid this issue, but I thought it’s not a fair comparison if I “modify” the base model.
    Saving on my Mac took about 10 minutes. Thats why I was surprised that it took the same time on the Windows machine with 64gb of ram. SSD wise both machines perform similar. As mentioned in the video, I have an open case with Adobe because saving takes that long. And just in that moment when I am writing that article I heard back from them. They tested my file and confirmed that these long saving times are as expected with large files like that. You can see that the power consumption on the windows machine is pretty low in that case, but I think its only that low, because saving a file for 10 minutes is a task that does not need much power.

    My thoughts

    The new installed Windows machine was faster at every single task. On some tasks it just killed it.
    I am not sure if it would have made a difference to use a new installed Mac, because I work with the same backup on my MacBook since 2016, but I don’t think so.
    For a final conclusion the question should be, how much benefit would I get from a faster machine. How important is the time I saved with the faster machine. I think there are always tasks you could do while Lightroom is exporting or photoshop is saving. During my work on the huge scan in photoshop, only the Mac Mini kept me waiting for some seconds when I duplicated the layer or applied the filter. Also the loading time took much longer. But otherwise, I was surprised how well it held up against the two others.

    I know I went a little overboard when I compared the Windows machine with my heat pump. But sometimes the computer needed 350 Watts and much more. And when it’s about 15 degrees outside, my heat pump has a similar power consumption to keep my house warm. Let this thought sink in for a moment. Luckily I am can create my own energy and will try to limit the use of the windows client to the sunny days.

    Since I have my solar power up and running, I automate lots of tasks to run only when it produces energy.

    I hope this comparison showed you a different view of how powerful a computer must be.
    The question is now, was it a good idea to build this computer for ai and scans. Honestly I am not sure anymore.
    It’s fun to play with ai models locally, but I will limit the use for Lightroom or Photoshop. I guess I will use it for huge scans where I need to work with more layers, but for my usual workloads, my 16gb MacBook is more than capable.

    Also the noise it makes is something you should think about. Even this machine is pretty quiet (it just sounds loud in the video, because I went very close with my phone) I dont like listen to the fans all day long, that’s why I put it in a different room and only connect remotely to it.

    A very capable computer that outperforms my Mac’s in any task, but it comes with a cost, power consumption is on another level.
    Honestly it’s hard to justify buying a Mac Studio with similar specs like this machine. You easily spend 5000+ Euros on it and with that extra money, you can power up this one with energy for years. But if you don’t mind waiting a little longer, you got cheaper options that consumes much less of energy.

    At the end it’s always a decision what operating system you prefer and how much money you want to spend.

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in ai, analog, diy | Comment now »


    Thursday, December 7th, 2023

    My Talk at the Ars Elecronica Center and a unique print

    I want to share with you guys a quick tour of my talk, so you can get an idea how it turned out. I got lots of great feedback and enjoyed it a lot. The next day I captured the Ars Electronica Center building on a glass plate and did a slat print. I really like how this turned out.

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in analog, dry plate, Landscape, salt print, talk | Comment now »


    Wednesday, November 22nd, 2023

    a complete analog day

    There are lots of analog photography stores in Vienna. The epicentre is through the Westbahnstrasse. There are many stores selling analog cameras. Among them is Joe Geier’s Mint and rare store.
    This store organises twice a year a huge analog flea market that is called “Wiener Fotobörse” . But lately it grows slowly from a flea market to an analog event. Beside the flea market you have now also an area with an exhibition and other analog focused companies. I had my own booth there for the second time and got lots of great feedback.

    There even exists an early bird ticket, because so many people want to get a great deal on used equipment.
    you’ll find there always some wired lenses and cameras.

    At home I loaded a dry plate into my camera just in case I find a good subject. And on my way home, I realised that I passed a place where I had a surreal moment. Many years ago, I was driving through this forest (Wienerwald) very late at night when I was stopped by a herd of deer. They just stood in the middle of the road and looked at me. It was such a beautiful moment, but also a bit scary because they didn’t move. Now standing on the same place again I wanted to capture this kind of feeling again.

    I got my Century camera out of the booth and set everything up for the capture.

    The dry plates I use (From Zebra ) have an iso sensitivity of 2 and are only sensitive to the blue spectrum of light. That made my endeavour a bit more complicated. Because It was late afternoon and it was already getting darker and that means less blue light. A lot of cars were passing by, while I was standing there and looking at the image I wanted to capture. So I came up with the idea to use the lights of the cars to light my scene. Now I had another problem, I did not know when cars will pass me, so I just trusted my ears and before a car arrived I put the lens cap of for the exposure. You can see how I did it in the video.

    I really like how it turned out. If your are interested in salt prints, visit my shop:

    At the end I want to mention a new backpack and tripod I got for testing. If you have watched my videos, you will now that I always travel with my heavy duty case and my wooden tripod. That is sometimes very frustrating. After lots of discussion with the vendor, I gave it a shot and was very surprised how this made my life easier. I can now carry my whole 8×10 large format camera including a tripod, lenses, plate holders and all needed accessories on my back. Sure, its heavy, but it makes my life easier.

    Lots of space and protection. Funny enough, on the analog event some people were interested about my new backpack and tripod. Even the tripod does look a bit fragile for such a big camera, it is really steady if you don’t use heavy duty lenses on your camera.

    ►Black Friday deals for my new Backpack
    International: Germany:
    ►my new tripod : International: Germany:
    ►more Black Friday deals(up to 30% off): International: Germany:

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in dry plate, Landscape, salt print | Comment now »


    Monday, August 28th, 2023

    Deep Space Lecture: Ars analogica – where Hightech meets pure Analog

    Eine multimediale Zeitreise zum Ursprung der Fotografie.

    Erlebt mit mir den historischen Nassplattenprozess in Form von mikroskopischen Aufnahmen, dreidimensionalen Porträts und 4K-Videos. Bei dieser Reise führe ich euch durch die Geschichte, stelle euch authentisches Equipment vor und präsentiere die daraus entstandenen extrem ausdrucksstarken und hochauflösenden Porträts auf einer 9×16 Meter großen Laserprojektion in 8K. So habt ihr Fotografie noch nie erlebt!

    Hier gehts zu Anmeldung für den 13. Oktober:

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    Saturday, August 12th, 2023

    my portrait at one of the most beautiful places in Austria

    One of the most beautiful places in Austria – During poppy flower season there is a beautiful place to visit here in Austria. The Mohndorf (poppy seed village) in Armschlag. At exactly that place our „Menschenbilderausstellung“ (human pictures exhibition) was exhibited with one of my inspired series portrait. I love that place. Beautiful scenery, good food and a wonderful exhibition.

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in analog, collodium, exhibition, wetplate | Comment now »


    Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

    Should you buy a scratched lens?

    This topic brings often lots of emotion up. And honestly I was struggling myself buying lenses with scratches for some time. I still do. Thats why I wanted to take a closer look into this topic . Gary sent me a scratched lens some time ago and therefore made this video possible. Thanks a lot for that!

    This old Ross projection lens got lots of fungi and scratches all over the glass

    But this is not the first scratched lens that I got, I bought a used canon 24mm lens a while ago from a shop for very little money. I knew already that the little scratches will not affect the image, but I still had a bad feeling. After Some years I can assure you, that all images that I shot with it looked great

    my scratched canon 24mm lens – no issue at all to work with it

    You still are not sure if you should get a scratched lens for a good price? Then have a look at my video, where I show how I shoot the plates with a scratched lens. I discuss this topic with a fellow wet plate artist who is also a specialist in renovation of historic photographic equipment: Denis of Denis started recently a YouTube channel where he spreads his knowledge of historic lenses.

    As promised I posted the hires scans of the plates underneath. One plate is shot with the old Ross projection lens and one is shot with this very new Zeiss Epic projection lens.

    This projection lens is as clean as it gets

    Can you guess which plate was shot with the scratched lens? Click on the highres crops to see them in full resolution. You can use the chapters of the video to chump to the part where I explain what plate was shot with the scratched lens.

    Shooting wet plates with this projection lenses can be very tough, because the dof is very thin. I also think that one of the lenses had some chromatic aberration. That means, that the blue light is focusing on a different distance than the visible light. This is sometimes also called chemical blurring or chemical miss focus with the wet collodion process, because the wet collodion process sees only some parts of the UV light spectrum (about 420 to 490nm).
    I can only focus on the light I can see with my eyes, but some lenses focus because of the chromatic aberration the limages for wet plates on a different spot. Thats how a miss focus can happen. But you can see how extremely sharp both lenses performed anyway. To judge the sharpness for image A, have a look at the top and the right side of the cropped scan.

    Even I knew what was the plate that was shot with the scratched lens, and I still mixed them up and was convinced I was right when I showed it to my intern, shows how similar the plates are. This was another point that went to the scratched lens. Scratches and fungus mostly cover only a small percentage of the lens and thats the reason it won’t affect the image that much as you would think.

    If you want to support me and get deeper into topics like that, you always can book a workshop or join our Patreon team. Or just book a portrait session . Check also my Instagram channel for latest news:

    So what does that mean, should you buy scratched lenses? From our perspective, you definitely can buy scratched lenses. You will save money and still get the same results. It only affects the value. As always, it depends how big the damage of the lens is. More about that in my video. If you buy lenses as an investment, you probably will look for a mint lens, but here you have to put lots more money on the table.
    At the end, it all depends on your needs.

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in alumitype, analog, nassplatte, wetplate, workshop | Comment now »


    Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

    Tin Questions Podcast Interview

    Excited and proud to share this with you. Chad from Tin Questions interviewed me about my life and my portrait work. I had such a great time and I think it turned out wonderful. Read the intro in Chad’s words:

    I recently went camping and got ate up by mosquitos. My next guest on “Tin Questions”, Austrian wetplate photographer Markus Hofstätter, lives in a town known for these pesky insects. Not only is Markus a well known European photographer, he is also a great resource to the wetplate community, sharing his knowledge, doing equipment reviews and similar to “Tin Questions”, conducting the occasional interview. Hear how a love of shooting pool with both sticks and cameras eventually turned into a desire to slow down and create beautiful images using a historic process.
    Listen to “Tin Questions” on your favorite podcast provider.

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in podcast, wetplate | Comment now »


    Friday, July 21st, 2023

    My Podcast Interview with Silvergrain Classics magazine about my Wet Plate Work and AI

    iTunes | Spotify | Deezer | | TuneIn | Stitcher | RSS Feed

    Ep. 13: Hofstätter’s Intensely Personal Portraits vs. AI

    by Erik Schlicksbier, Marwan El-Mozayen

    Wet plate collodion portrait photographer Markus Hofstätter is our guest in this episode. He creates particularly individual, intimate portraits by collaborating closely with the persons he portrays. This human aspect is especially important to him despite all the virtuosity necessary to create wet plate collodion images. We were also interested in Markus’ view of current developments in the field of AI. Join us in this podcast for an exciting conversation about the present and future of photography.

    Markus online:

    Your hosts:

    Marwan El-Mozayen from Silvergrain Classics magazine (

    Erik Schlicksbier, photographer ( and host of the German language Studio Kreativkommune podcast (

    Posted by Markus | Filed in ai, collodion, podcast, portraits, wetplate | Comment now »