Camera On Wheels - Design Bureau

Camera On Wheels

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

I don't know what Ian Ruhter's Silver & Light video is really about, an American road-trip project of some kind. But I find the idea of taking giant photos from a delivery truck turned camera intriguing. The video is short on specifics of what the plan is and long on heart-wrenching music. But Ruhter does touch on one aspect of his wet plate photography method: Scale. Making photos this big on giant metal plates is not as simple as just Getting a bigger everything. It involves engineering, chemistry at every level, and can still go wrong. It seems like a gigantic amount of effort—he estimates it costs $500 to take a single photo—but Ruhter (despite some failures documented in the video) obviously loves it that way. Collodion process wet plate photography, in case you didn't know, was the second generation of old-school photography. It replaced the dagguerrotypes of the Civil War era, but required the photographer to carry around pieces of metal plate to expose as well as a darkroom, because development had to take place right after exposure. It'll be worth our time to check in with Ruhter somewhere down the line and I'd love to see his work in person—something tells me the computer monitor version just won't cut it.

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