The Hasselblad, what a beautiful camera! Below is my Hasselblad and Zeiss lens, a powerful analog machine of fine metal, glass and craftsmanship.
Modifying a polaroid back to create tintypes is a very simple process. You simply need to glue a few strips of plastic into your polaroid holder to hold your metal plate. I used a little too much gorilla glue on the polaroid back below, but it functions and that is the important piece!
Paired with the Hasselblad and Polaroid back above, I am able to create some very unique miniature tintype portraits. Here I am speaking to a collector's group for MOPA San Diego about the tintype process and using unconventional techniques to modify cameras and create tintypes.
Whenever I speak to a client on the phone the story of how I came to create digital tintypes inevitably comes up. I started restoring photographs over 15 years ago. Taking tattered and torn old turn of the century photographs of family members and creating new restored silver gelatin negative and prints. These images I receive from clients are to them priceless. They are often the only window into the past life of our shared families. Being able to take the only photograph of a family member and breathing new life into the photograph through restoration is a gift to the recipient. For the client, it has often been an emotional experience and one that is personally rewarding. It is as if I am able to give them back a memory that had been long forgotten, and that missing piece is a treasure to get back!
Along the way in this process of restoration I started to receive old tintypes that clients wanted me to recreate and reproduce as silver gelatin prints. Why silver gelatin prints? I wanted to not only bring back the image in the original photograph, but also give longevity to the recreation. While digital photography is a beautiful and expressive medium and tool for communication, digital prints in my experience have a very short life span. Thus, I painstakingly print silver gelatin photographs from negatives in a traditional wet darkroom process. For color photographs, I hand paint over sepia toned prints in the same mineral oil style made popular long before the first color film or prints made by Kodak.
In this method of restoration, I am able to give the client a newly restored photograph printed to the same type of silver gelatin papers as the original.
This really planted the seed for wanting to recreate not only original silver gelatin photographs but also recreate tintypes of modern images for people who wanted an alternative to the temporary digital print. For me, it is all about preserving your historical timeline through photographs. Creating tintypes from old photographs and digital images allows for this timeline to be guaranteed not to fade away with the passing of time.
You can see where this whole thing started, with before and after photographs of restored images and video of how I paint photographs to restore color. Just click on the link to view the restoration page of my personal website, http://www.jenjansenphoto.com/restorations.html
A 4"x5" tintype made from an original 1.5"x2" tintype
A tintype starts with an alchemical processes that is best hand made by the photographer. Wet plate collodion tintypes and ambrotypes are particular in their creation and like cooking, it is best that the chef be very familiar with their ingredients. This is why we make all of our own chemicals and do as much as we can from scratch. Keeping the process in house helps us to keep control of the results so that each little wet plate collodion 'cookie' comes out just as sweet as the last!
What is wet plate collodion photography? Here is a little definition from Wikipedia,
The collodion process is an early photographic process, invented by Frederick Scott Archer. It was introduced in the 1850s and by the end of that decade it had almost entirely replaced the first practical photographic process, the daguerreotype. During the 1880s the collodion process, in turn, was largely replaced by gelatin dry plates—glass plates with a photographic emulsion of silver halides suspended in gelatin. The dry gelatin emulsion was not only more convenient but could be made much more sensitive, greatly reducing exposure times.
The historic origins of wedding anniversaries date back to the Roman Empire, when husbands crowned their wives with a silver wreath on their twenty-fifth anniversary, and a gold wreath on the fiftieth. (from wikipedia)
Here at Digital Tintypes we are happy to create special anniversary gifts for any special occasion! The traditional gift to celebrate a tenth anniversary is the gift of tin. We create beautiful tintypes from any digital image. Upload your favorite photograph and create a tintype for your anniversary. A tintype is a one of a kind gift your loved one will treasure!