Interview With Shane Balkowitsch
Well hello everyone and welcome to another podcast from frames magazine my name is scott olsen and today we are going old school and we are going deep into a really really wonderful type of photography. That's not practice very much anymore and really frankly when you see it. It's going to knock your socks off. We're talking with shane belkevich. Shane happens to live just a couple hours. West of me out here on the great plains of north america up north dakota chain that afternoon. How's everything out in the middle part of the state. good scott. thanks for having me on. We've got a little snow last night. Which was a very welcomed. Got a little snow over here. It's cold it's january is imagine about winner on the american that should be asked should be. You're absolutely right shane. You are just absolutely mesmerizing with the work. You're doing you do wet plate colin on photography. You do when one of the earliest styles of photography and admit you know. When i first heard about it i thought why in the world would anyone want to go through that amount of work for an image that i can do in my mirrorless. Dsl are very quickly. And then i realized how wrong. I was can't do that image and i certainly can't come up with a product that you've come up with so first question for people that that are familiar with the process. What is wet plate photography. What is the whole call it on process. Yeah so a wet plate clothing. Photography's invented by frederick scott archer in. He started working on about eighteen. Forty eight we believe in eighteen fifty one. He came out with a journal article in a scientific journal and presented it to the world. So what we're doing. I'm sure many of your listeners. Know about daguerreotype process which was invented by the declare. The frenchman About ten years. Before what plaguing frederick scott archer wanted to improve on that and This is what he came up with and the final product. And what your comment about why. You can't capture wet played in a modern a digital camera. Is that this is completely analog and the final images the images that i make. I an amber typist. That means i make my photographs on glass specifically for me black glass and these images are made out a pure silver on glass. And what's about silver silver does not degrade so these images that i have Have made over the last eight years of made a three eight hundred of them all by ten most most eight by ten black last amber types of they'll be here thousand years from now broken which which is not something you can save for princeton pigments in paintings and other things like that so the these are very archival images and i. it's just a very very romantic process. i was never photographer before. A two thousand twelve took my first exposure on october. Fourth never owned a camera. And i just find myself chasing this this historic process. It is really really interesting and we need to tell people that there is a movie out. There is called belkevich b. a. l. k. o. w. i t. s. c. h. on video. It's on amazon. Prime it is a documentary about you and your work and folks. You need to go there. You need to watch this film if you are in the any kind of photography. You need to do this but shane one of the things. That really intrigued me. Watching the film is that most of us that are in the photography files were making digital files. Or you know. We're coming up even if we're still dealing with old thirty five millimeter film or that kind of stuff Medium format film. You know we come up with a negative but then you know actual print is a temporary thing. You much more like a sculptor are making an object's this glass plate and it's not revisable you can't go back and tweak the highlights you can't go back and ask grain if you want. What is the appeal of making that object versus a kind of idea. We have to understand most web play. Cloudy and artists There was one here in bismarck. North dakota orlando scott gough. When he he was known for capturing the first ever photograph of sitting. Bull here bismarck. In the in this process that i practice and i i happen to capture ernie lapointe the great grandson. The city hundred thirty five years later in the same town in the same process but goth would have made a negative like you had said he would make a glass of so instead of putting his images onto black glass which you cannot contact with. He would have used clear glass. Clear glass as you insinuated. You can make multiple copies and you can enter. The final product in that scenario is a print. Because you want to be able to sell you know apprentice shayna print scott where wants to print you can make as many prints of these want is your business and it. Did you know good to have a one off plate because you and you know when you're talking about eighteen fifty one is no way of duplicate and they didn't have scanners and we couldn't do anything like that so you know. I think there's something very special about the the fact that these images are one offs and they can never be duplicated in they can never be replicated. When i make one of these images. I've for instance. I've dropped an image once and tried to go five minutes later. Ten minutes later tried to make this image with the same sitter the same camera. The same lenses saint chemistry. And i can never get back to that so if you look at this romantically. I'm not actually taking snapshots people actually making ten second movies. I'm still life movies. Because my exposures in my natural studio that i built here in bismarck. It's called nostalgic glassware plate studio the first one in in the country bill of the ground up and over a hundred years. I'm making ten second exposure. So there's heartbeats and there's blood flowing through the person there's a couple. Maybe a blinker to and what. I really love about this is. Maybe there's a thought so. I'm capturing thought on that piece of glass pure silver. That'll be here on.