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  • Writer's pictureJae Hodges


I've become fascinated by collodion wet plate photography. My friend and mentor, Rebecca Pujals-Jones, invited me once for a day in the field to watch her and other collodion photographers create. Sally Mann said: "When I was shooting with collodion, I wasn’t just snapping a picture. I was fashioning, with fetishistic ceremony, an object whose ragged black edges gave it the appearance of having been torn from time itself." (Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs, Little Brown, 2015) What a wonderful day it turned out to be. The process is involved, and I don't think it's for me, but . . . I have fallen in love with the end product, or at least the quality of prints that can be made from the wet plates. I have to agree that the charm of collodion work is in the uncertainty it represents--fail to clean the glass plate well enough and you get black splotches which, frankly, add a lot of character to the right photo. But I really just love the old world feel that each photo brings. Some say this can't be recreated in digital photography. Wet plate artist Charles Mason believes taking the "unplanned" out of the process makes it contrived while "if you just let it happen, it's the gods helping you out." Well, playing around on the computer, clicking here, clicking there, letting each different processing mode surprise me until I hit on just the right look seems an awful lot like divine intervention to me.

This photo was taken by the side of a back road near Oxford, Florida. I noticed this horse happily trotting around a corral early one morning, the feathering around his lower legs blowing in the breeze. Then I noticed the decoratively plaited mane. When I approached the corral, my camera in hand, he stopped running, looked at me suspiciously then turned around and walked as far away from me as possible. So, I hid behind a tree. He didn't start running again but at least he turned back toward me for a few photos.

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