What is old is new again: Tintype

8 October 2014

Pardon my radio silence dear readers. I had a bit of a life event and then went to celebrate said life event which led to the inactivity on Ocean Violet. However, in the next few weeks the blog will be full of photos of both adventures. Starting with today’s.

Walking the cobblestone streets of Bayeux, France after a long day on the Normandy Beaches I stumbled across a Le Temps Suspendu Studio, belonging to fine art photographer + tinkerer, Philippe LeClerc. I was intrigued by his large black + white photographs of the Normandy Beaches along with a portraits using a process I had read about called “collodion” or “tintype.”

We popped into the studio and chatted with Phillippe about the wet plate portraits and he told us he’d walk us through the entire process that took about 40 minutes from start to finish. The process takes extreme skill and a little bit of chemistry.  The actual wet-plate that our portraits would be on are coated and immersed in a bath of silver nitrate, making it sensitive to light. Then the plate goes into the very large wooden camera and your portrait is taken. Phillippe fussed with my hair pushing it all to one side and told me not to smile. You have to sit incredibly still for a few seconds while the photo is taken, when it’s done, Phillippe took the plate to his dark room and we waited for about 30 minutes for the final result. The result is an ambrotype, a singular copy which cannot be reproduced; the glass plate itself constitutes the photograph. Voilà!

My Portrait by Philippe LeClerc in Bayeux, France.

My Portrait by Philippe LeClerc in Bayeux, France.

A few more of Philippe's portraits.

A few more of Philippe’s portraits.  Light eyes are as haunting as they are beautiful in these portraits.

If you don’t find yourself in Northern France anytime soon you can make an appointment at The Penumbra Foundation a nonprofit dedicated to alternative photography education in New York City.  Just book your session which will run you about +$95.00. Here are a few shots of their recent visit to Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island:

Jazz Age Lawn Party shot by Penumbra Foundation using TinType.

Jazz Age Lawn Party shot by Penumbra Foundation using TinType.


Saving the best for last, award-winning photographer, Victoria Will’s tintype actor portraits from 2014 Sundance Film Festival including the featured image of Anne Hathaway and Jason Schwartzman.

2014 Sundance TIn Type Portraits - Lance Reddick

God this just makes me miss The Wire.

2014 Sundance TIn Type Portraits - Elle Fanning

pretty thing isnt she? Elle Fanning

Have I ever mentioned my fravorite movie of all time, “Stranger than Fiction?” Please write that down and watch it tonight. The beautiful, Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Of course Jack McBrayer did not adhere to the “no smile policy.”


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