Monday, August 13, 2012

WET PLATES ON A DRY LAKE

Alain de Cadanet astride the 'Edgar' Vincent Black Shadow, on which Rollie Free made his infamous 'bathing suit' run at 150mph at Bonneville in 1948.  Alain was filming for the Discovery Channel, and brought a bathing cap and swimsuit!

The common wisdom of shooting collodion/wet plate is you need lots of water and mild conditions, neither of which applies to the harsh dryness of the Bonneville salt flats.  I don't know if anyone has shot tintypes there, but I brought my Chamonix view camera and a van full of chemicals, and set up a rough-and-ready darkroom in the brightest, whitest, shadelest spot on earth.   The reflectivity of the salt, the utter lack of clouds or greenery, made chaos of my exposures and nearly solarized any shots not made under a canopy.  And their blown-out quality catches something of the ceaseless glare of the place, and its harsh beauty.
Ana Llorente, an East Side Moto Babe, on her 175cc Motobecane
Jared Zaugg drove from Salt Lake City to say hi to the gang; here on Vincent Prat's 'Team Impossible' Triton, shipped from Toulouse
This '47 Knucklehead looked right at home on the salt; ridden in, ridden around.  The extreme light reflection from the white salt and bright sun makes exposure times tough to calculate, and plays tricks on the collodion
Artist Maxwell Paternoster of Corpses From Hell visiting the USA for the first time; straight to the salt!
Shinya Kimura wrenches on his HD Knucklehead special, 'the Spike', which had just done a 114mph run.  As there is no place to wash the tintypes after exposure (they need 10 minutes under running water to clear out the chemicals), they must sit in a tray of water after exposure and fixing.  The collodion substrate is extremely soft and vulnerable to scratching, especially when the photo is transported 600 miles in the back of my van before washing...
Southsiders Vincent and Olivier Prat with their 'Impossible' Triton, with which we could relive a bit of 'Wheels and Waves', but the ocean had receded, and we were left with salts of the long-vanished Bonneville sea. 
Willy and his fantastic T-bucket 'Krautliner'...which did 247mph...
Looking like an 1890s 'Wanted' poster, David Borras of El Solitario MC
Shinya and Ayu with their Knucklehead...

10 comments:

OcchioLungo said...

David looks a bit like Poncho Villa!

GuitarSlinger said...

Damn Paul ! Mighty fine shots despite the challenging conditions . Fact is if you ever decide to print up a few for sale ... there's at least two I'd like hanging in my studio ! Love the overall effect of the medium as well as your most excellent eye .

Damn !

May we have some more ..... please ?

conartist said...

... Texture and Text ... Nice ...

Rhynchocephalian said...

Absolutely Stunning!

DAN_DAN said...

top fucking notch man! fantastic photos! wet plates from bonneville... you got instagram beat!

ElSolitarioMC said...

Run today Paul!!! the almighty teuton got me to 107mph!!!!
Hahaha
so proud
Missed your light though
xxx

Unknown said...

Put out a book!!!

hedrives said...

Damn, wish I'd known you were there. I was standing right by Alain de Cadanet when they fired up the Vincent after driver's meeting. Also met up with El Solitario and the Southsiders crew between runs on my old cb750. Seems as if everyone was there. Great shots.

streetracker said...

Respect! Singular experience, a philosophical but also an empirical point of view...

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed your column in the current Men's File magazine issue 07 on this subject. Educational and though-provoking. Thanks for the enlightenment.

-JZ