Portraits

Photographies au Collodion humide sur plaque de verre et d’aluminium.

Wet plate collodion is the second commercialized photographic process after the Daguerreotype. It was developed and announced in 1851 by the British Frederick Scott Archer but Gustave Le Gray, a French photographer had already been using it since 1849. In the 19th century, the discovery of this process was a considerable technological and commercial advance because it made it possible to reduce exposure times from several minutes to just a few seconds.

The wet plate collodion process therefore consists of handcrafting a photograph from the cutting of the support to the final image. Collodion, a syrupy liquid, is poured onto a glass or aluminum plate. This plate is then immersed for a few minutes in a tank containing a solution of silver nitrate, a light sensitive salt. As soon as it comes out of the tank, the photosensitive plate is placed in a frame to take the picture. After taking the photo, the plate should be immediately revealed, washed and fixed. All these operations must be done before the Collodion layer has had time to dry because it will lose its sensitivity and obtaining an image will then become impossible.

In about ten minutes this photographic experience gives us to see an astonishing icon, hallucinated birth. Also this process does not respect the same light spectrum as our eye, therefore revealing non-palpable aspects to us. The lines are accentuated, certain colors metamorphosed. The portrait thus aggravates the soul, makes presences palpable.