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Tuesday, 20 November 2012


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"Of course, nowadays all optical/chemical processes are "alternative," "
Ouch. I guess you're right though.

Beautiful film. If I ever got into image making other than digital it would be some antique process. I saw lots of tintypes when I was a kid in Northern Utah. As you might understand many of the people living there have a particularly high regard for preserving family history.

A fabulous film. Thanks to all concerned, and thanks to you, Mike, for bringing it to us.

Simply awesome. And good camera work of the film maker as well.

Hi. Mike
I watched tis short a couple weeks ago and thought it was wonderful not as in depth or as moving as the Sally Mann flm doing the Internet rounds but great to watch and admire a scenario beyond my skills and patience.


Beautiful piece, from the music to the camera work (both guys'). It brings to mind a line by 18th-century English dramatist John Gay:

“Basically, I no longer work for anything but the sensation I have while working.”

That quote is often repeated by film photographers to explain why they still shoot film even though they know that digital gives more reliably "perfect" results (as Taylor himself pretty much says right after the 2-minute mark).

"even though they know that digital gives more reliably "perfect" results "

Well nothing gets much more perfect that tintypes. They are about as good as they can be straight away as opposed to digital ( or film ) where you can always keep improving or at least re-interpreting the image.

That's what was so wonderful about Polaroid, no fussing about perfecting them.

I might have missed it, but you should totally link to Harry's website:


It's fantastic

Thanks for sharing this peek. Shooting chromes feels antiquated, but this is almost alchemy compared to that.

Ron Reeder (a photographer from Seattle) has exhibited some "hybrid" tintypes. He basically makes a transparency using a photograph taken in the field (using film or digital cameras), places it on a lightbox, and photographs the transparency with a view camera with the emulsion. This allows him to make tintypes without having to carry collodion, ether, etc. outside of his workshop. This makes it more of an alternative printing technique than an alternative photographic technique.

Tintype made in old photo studio at Ford's Greenfield Village:

Never mind the dragoon, that thing's a Basilisk!

Film photographers, at least this one, have that little prayer they say under their breath after pushing the button. "I sure hope this comes out".
That just doesn't happen when I'm shooting digital.
To me the magic of traditional photography is that is it is the concatination of craft harnessing chance in the pursuit of art.
Digital acquisition reduces the element of chance. If you are good enough with Photoshop then chance is essentially out of the equation and you have crossed over from photography into the world of graphic art.
Loved the video. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Plews comment came as a watershed and eye opening remark, one of those light bulb moments, thanks MP, this has been and is my faltering acceptance of all the post processing dramas and must does etc, answers to my dilemma with continued changing and reprocessing of images (thanks Hugh Crawford), I don't want to be and realize now that I have been trying to force myself to be a graphic artist, but what I enjoy and am passionate about is making photographs, not processing images. Think I will go back to my M9 and simple Lightroom processing and leave all the graphics arts stuff to those that want it. I think that bringing this blog entry has been a godsend to me personally, thanks Mike J,

Wonder how much he charges for a tintype portrait?

Here's another photographer exploring "alternative process": http://marktucker.com/ALTERNATIVE-PROCESS/1/

You might be interested in Mr. Coffer's tintype website.

so if you like Tintype work, don't miss:


Keliy was one of the best teaching assistants I've had for my platinum course at CAP, and has now gone on to a professorship in Arkansas, and an impressive number of recent shows of her work, mostly in tintype.

One of those funny things, the medium has no pull for me personally to get involved for my own work, but I'm very taken with what other people are doing with it.

Oh dear, I'd been thinking of altering my rickety old 8x10 Burke and James to take wet plate holders, you may have just tipped me over the edge.
all the best, Mark

"That's what was so wonderful about Polaroid, no fussing about perfecting them."

For a while the highly imperfect phone camera image really appealed to me (and probably many others) as a photographic medium for the same reason polaroids do. Low resolution, low optical quality "fonographs" (as a friend and I used to call them), had a spontaneous, humble and sometimes mysterious quality to them. The iPhone killed all that I think!

A lovely film. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Collodion is even better than film to cure this digi-angst. And it is as addictive to shoot as polaroids.

"Tintype made in old photo studio at Ford's Greenfield Village"

Very nice. I have one of those myself, taken when I was 13, in Virginia City, Montana--dressed in a black frock coat, flat-brimmed hat, and vest, and holding a pistol of some sort. One tough hombre. I don't know where it is, but the possibility exists that it could turn up again one day....


Anyone in the New York City area wanting to see some really great tintypes should go see the Masterplaters exhibition at Soho Photo Gallery. Their website: www.Sohophoto.com

Here's one more practioner of antique photography processes: Luther Gerlach at


Thank you for the kind words Mr Belmuda. Just to be clear, I wasn't taking a shot at graphic arts, just trying to talk about how technology has blurred the lines.
As for me, I am planning to spend the holiday helping my son build a "pizza oven" for printing Ziatypes for his Kickstarter project so all this talk about alternative processes is a treat.
Hope I don't get so buzzed on trytophan that I bisuit join my fingers together.

Very nice short film by Morris and interesting work by Taylor.

Artisanal photography and printing today is really all about process. If you do it as a hobby it's all about your satisfaction from your immersion in the crafty processes. Cooking, woodworking, car restoration, ... all excellent immersive distractions from whatever pains your brain.

@ John Sarsgard: "It's all about giving yourself permission to do the work you love, whether it be tintypes, photograms, photoshop, or whatever, then finding the elbow room in your life to do it."

According to Harry Taylor's Web site (thank you Rowan) he makes his living as a commercial and wedding photographer. It certainly must must be both satisfying and financially productive for him to be able set himself apart from the stampede by offering such a special ancient imaging service to clients. Smart move made all the sweeter by his strong desire and talent for this type of work.

Personally I find this type of imaging exceptionally cloying in the 21st century, like wearing period costumes just 'cuz. I cannot get past the pretension. But just as I admire people skilled in making period costumes I very much admire those who are skilled in artisanal photo processes. So I raise my glass to you, Harry Taylor!

Ken Tanaka, I don't think it's always pretension. Maybe sometimes, but there are some of us who work in these processes just because we love them. I'm a platinum printer (i love the process and the papers, which I also sometimes hate, and what the print looks like) but I work from digitally enlarged negatives because they're easier to make and more satisfactory than those made in a wet darkroom. If you see a wet plate photographer working out of a covered wagon, I agree it's pretentious. If she's using the trunk of her Toyota, not so much.

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