"Girl With Bomb" a protest wet plate against the war in Ukraine with my youngest daughter Mahliya Balkowitsch. My propmaster Laine Pope fabricated the bomb and designed the set. Chad Nodland was present to capture the "making of" photos. These ideas and concepts haunt me until I can bring them to life in silver on glass. I had this concept of a child catching a bomb from out of the sky before it hit the ground. I remember once saying "Art can be a weapon for change and we artists have the ability to wield it at will."
Vladimir Putin was unprovoked and attacked a sovereign nation.
Carl Zeiss Tessar 300mm lens, f4.5, 6 seconds of exposure, 8x10" black glass ambrotype, natural light through Northern facing windows and skylights at Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio, Bismarck, North Dakota, Plate 4551, taken on 2-5-2023.
"Winged Victory Of Samothrace" with Bonnie Balkowitsch in the historic wet plate collodion process of pure silver on glass. This is my wife Bonnie's favorite statue. She fell in love with it at the Louvre when we saw it a few years back. Laine Pope my propmaster spent over six months developing the bespoke costume. She made every element by hand. Yes, Bonnie is standing with this costume on for this shot. All done in camera with no photoshop. We got the shot on the first attempt.
What was important for me as an artist was the technical aspects of capturing a person in the garment and the difficulty of removing her arms and head. A majority of people who see this work for the first time do not realize that a person is holding this up. In retrospect it would have been much easier just to work on a dress form or use a manikin. Where is the challenge in that? I love the fact that our "Winged Victory" had heart beats and was breathing during the exposure. It is all about the illusion and the challenge of pulling it off. I knew if I could get the exposure correct and could get a deep black background, I could fix any issues in the rinse bath with Farmer's Reducer. I used a small paint brush to apply the 150 year old chemical concoction to make the illusion absolutely complete. Like I have said many times, it does not matter what it takes to get the plate. What is most important is the effort and the intent to get to the image that is needed to fulfill the vision. I am very proud of this effort. Bonnie did an amazing job standing in the same place for 90 minutes while Laine worked her magic. Bonnie has claustrophobia and the black mask over her head posed a real struggle for her, but she endured. Laine Pope did an amazing job in designing this prop and it is now on display above my darkroom in my studio for visitors to enjoy.
Carl Zeiss Tessar 300mm lens, f4.5, 7 seconds of exposure, 8x10" black glass ambrotype, natural light through Northern facing windows and skylights at Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio, Bismarck, North Dakota, Plate #4399, taken on 9-17-2022.
Chad Nodland the official digital photographer to my studio captured the behind the below behind the scene shots. We wanted to share the final result before showing how we technically pulled it off.
"Channeling Eva Carriere" with Bre Peltz and Paul Noot, captured in the historic wet plate collodion process of pure silver on glass from the 1851 process. Eva was a medium at the beginning of the 20th Century and she would boast that she could control ectoplasm. If she could do it in 1912, we could surely do it today with a process that is 60 years before her time. Her level of fraud and deception as a spiritualist was over the top and legendary. Houdini the magician and Arthur Doyle the man who wrote Sherlock Holmes investigated her extraordinary claims. Read about her life, you will not be disappointed. She was a crackpot in the most fantastical and lovely way.
Carl Zeiss Tessar 300mm lens, f4.5, 8 seconds of exposure, 8x10" black glass ambrotype, natural light through Northern facing windows and skylights at Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio, Bismarck, North Dakota, Plate #4347, taken on 8-12-2022.
Assisted by my propmaster Laine Pope and Christopher Roemmich lit the pyrotechnics.
“Succumbed To Light” with Borut Peterlin at the Wet Plate Collodion Expedition 2022 in the woodland of Kočevski Rog, Slovenia. My daughter and I traveled to his yearly wet plate expedition. Borut is a master ambrotypist and contact printer. He has his new book “A New Earth” which features his prints in one hand and his 150 year old brass lens in the other.
Wet plate collodion 8x10 clear glass ambrotype, Carl Zeiss Tessar 300mm lens, f8, 9 seconds of exposure. Borut will be making the final prints from the glass plate negative.
I absolutely had no intentions of creating on this trip. I tend to get lost in the process and I wanted to be present for the friendship and camaraderie. I was more interested in learning and helping others in the group.
That changed at 4am the night before the exposure. I awoke from a dream and had this exact composition in mind. I could not shake it and did not sleep another minute.
We had been drinking from a natural spring that has been in the Slovenian mountains for millennia. There was a stone structure with a metal door that protects this pristine natural occurring water source. It was this structure that inspired me.
I explained my composition to Oded Levy and Markus Hofstätter over breakfast and the plate was set in motion. Oded was instrumental in assisting me with the composition. Peter Skrlep loaned me his handmade large format camera. This is a reversed digital photograph of the wet plate negative was taken by Markus Hofstätter. Once the image appeared in the fixer, it felt as if it was meant to be. This was a true collaboration.
"The Beheading Of Medusa" with Kit Marie Pace, captured in the historic wet plate collodion process of pure silver on glass. Inspired by the 1618 painting by Peter Paul Rubens. My propmaster Laine Pope's had to be summoned to pull this off.
Carl Zeiss Tessar 300mm lens, f4.5, 8 seconds of exposure, 8x10" black glass ambrotype, natural light through Northern facing windows and skylights at Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio, Bismarck, North Dakota, Plate #4283, taken on 6-3-2022. Digital behind the scene photographs by Chad Nodland.
Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio was founded on October 4th, 2012 by Shane Balkowitsch.