"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.
Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio was founded on October 4th, 2012 by Shane Balkowitsch.