Making images with Dale Bernstein
Ginny Taylor Rosner came by the M10 studio this morning to talk about her show with us next month. (Don’t miss it!) While she was there, wet plate photographer Dale Bernstein joined us for a tour of the Complex, and afterwords we joined him on Mass Ave to watch him make some tintypes of the old Coca-Cola Bottling plant. I had my camera, so I did a little documenting of the very interesting and involved process.
Dale starts by cutting an 8×10″ section from a sheet of black-painted aluminum. He then works with the aluminum in his portable dark room, coating the black surface in a light-sensitive colloidal solution (or is it “collodion”? I’m not sure).
Talk about a stark contrast, me with my modern digital camera, snapping away at 3200 ISO (I couldn’t even see inside the dark room window with my own eyes but the camera was able to focus and record images), while Dale took a couple hours to make three exposures. We absolutely have no excuses these days. If we can’t make compelling images, the fault lies squarely with us.
This was a fascinating process, creating a beautiful artifact. Certainly something that we don’t get with digital cameras. It is involved though, and there is a lot that stands between the artist and his image.