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Old photography survives in digital era

Liz Ortiz
Staff Writer

A plastic fox figurine wearing a suit sat upright on the west lawn of Azusa Pacific University while students photographed it to further their knowledge of the collodion photography process on Feb. 26.

More than 20 students participated in the Windgate Workshop, hosted by Los Angeles collodion photographer Tim Scott. He began the workshop by lecturing the students about the process and then demonstrating how to capture an image using the collodion process.

“(The process) is something that is hard to reproduce in the digital era; I haven’t seen it done yet,” Scott said.

Scott explained to the students that this process is very similar to developing film, but instead of film, the image is processed on an aluminum plate.

Students began practicing the process by rotating collodion on an 8 by 10 inch aluminum plate, then entering the dark room to further process the plate.

Since the workshop was held outdoors, there was a red tent pitched on the lawn which was used as a makeshift darkroom.

Once inside, the students laid the plate in the developer with the exposure side down. During this time, Scott advised the students to take their time and pay attention to detail.

He also said that before they proceeded to place the plate in the viewfinder camera, the students should have their subject of the photo set in place.

He warned them that if they did not follow this process, their plate could dry out before they are able to capture the image.

The students divided into groups and began preparing for their opportunity to take their own photograph using the collodion process.

“It’s interesting to learn the roots of photography,” said APU sophomore graphic design major Daniel Ramos. “I like learning the process of making film and developing it.”

The majority of the students who participated in the workshop agreed with Ramos. They enjoyed the concept of processing a photograph by hand rather than processing it digitally.

“It’s one of the more original forms of photography, which is a nice change from digital photography,” said APU junior art major Lauren Coffellt.

The workshop was organized by APU Professor of Art Kent Anderson Butler and Associate Professor Stephen Childs along with the Department of Art and Design. It was supported by APU’s department of art and design and the Windgate Foundation.

“Last month there was a photo exhibit of Will Dunniway, who is one of the pioneers for the wet plate collodion process,” Butler said. “We thought this was a good time to have this workshop because students still remember the process, so now, they get a hands-on experience.”

Butler said that he and Childs felt that Scott was an appropriate photographer to host the workshop because Scott has been experimenting with the wet collodion process for a while.

With the help of Scott, students continued to practice the collodion process until sunset.

Liz Ortiz can be reached at elizabeth.ortiz@laverne.edu.

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