Large format macro: a crazy wet plate photography experiment

Austrian wet plate photographer Markus Hofstaetter is back with another crazy large format photography experiment. This time, he decided to find a way to shoot macro photos on a large format wet plate camera. To do this, he actually had to stack two wet plate cameras front to back, bellows fully extended.

Markus documented the whole experiment on his blog, and shares a behind-the-scenes ‚Making Of‘ look at the shoot in the video above. His subject was a little snowdrop from his garden, with a simple tin-foil background for some pretty bokeh. But getting any sort of magnification with a large format camera is no easy feat. He needed a lot of distance between his film plane and the little flower.

That’s why he decided to ‚connect‘ two large format wet plate cameras together, giving him enough extension to magnify the flower onto an 18x24cm plate.

Here’s a diagram that shows the difference between your standard „full-frame“ size, a 10x12cm plate, and an 18x24cm plate (left) and that same diagram overlaid on the final plate:

The next problem he faced was getting enough light. The farther the plate is from the subject, the more light he needs-the plate has an ISO value of about 0.5-and he was pretty far away from his subject. The trick to solving this problem, says Markus, is using fresh chemicals and a LOT of artificial light.

„Freshly mixed chemicals are more sensitive to light,“ he tells DPReview. „If I had used older chemicals, I’m not sure if this macro shot would have been possible.“ Add to that two flashes of 7,000W of light, and you’ve got JUST enough exposure to make this work.

Mix all of this together and here’s what you get. Scroll to the very end to see the final image:

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Definitely check out the whole Making Of video at the top if you want to see how this shot came together. Markus goes into more detail, revealing interesting tidbits about the lens he used, his lighting setup, and lets you tag along for the entire developing process as well.

And if you like his work, don’t forget to visit his website, check out his blog, and give him a follow on Facebook and Instagram. His quirky experiments-several of which we’ve featured on DPReview-might just get your creative juices flowing, too.

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