An Instagram husband is being celebrated as a shining example of true love this week thanks to a set of viral photos showing him photographing his wife over the Christmas holidays.
Taylor Burkhalter of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was with his parents at their home on Christmas Eve when he watched his dad patiently play his role as his wife’s Instagram photographer.
“I’ve learned more about love from watching my dad reluctantly rearrange the living room so my mom can make snow angel boomerangs for her 29 Instagram followers than anything else in life,” Burkhalter wrote in a Tweet with photos of his dad.
I’ve learned more about love from watching my dad reluctantly rearrange the living room so my mom can make snow angel boomerangs for her 29 Instagram followers than anything else in life pic.twitter.com/nMHdWtY0dE
This boomerang itself went viral, receiving over 180,000 plays. And thanks to the father’s viral photos and Taylor’s tweet, Libby’s Instagram account has grown overnight from 29 Instagram followers to over 12,000.
A few days ago, for the first time ever in my experience with wet plate photography, I mixed up collodion from scratch. I thought I’d share about the experience.
First of all, plain USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) Collodion is a mixture of ether, alcohol, and nitrocellulose (also known as nitrated or guncotton). It is the nitrocellulose that acts as a binder and carrier for photo-sensitive salts of silver while making wet collodion images.
The vast majority of the time, when people say they mix collodion from scratch, they buy USP Collodion premixed and then add various bromides and iodides. More ether and alcohol also need to be added in order to reduce the concentration of nitrocellulose from 4%, which is the USP standard, to about 2% in most modern collodion formulas.
However, during the 19th century, nitrated collodion could be purchased a lot more readily than today (it is highly flammable) so all of the old formulas assume you have it and just give measurements based on adding in raw guncotton.
Not long ago, I managed to procure a small quantity of raw nitrocellulose and was super excited to try it. I dug through a couple of historic texts and settled on a first formula given in the 1880 publication The Ferrotype And How To Make It. I also got more salts than needed for just that formula, so after I’m done with this batch I’ll try some others.
Converting the old grains to grams and anachronistic ounces to sensible milliliters took a minute or two and then I reduced the batch size to about 120ml total so that I could go through it in a timely manner and try something else. Here’s the formula I used (note that nitrocellulose concentration there only came out to be 1.3%):
60ml Grain Alcohol (ethanol) 95% strength
1g Ammonium Iodide
0.5g Cadmium Iodide
0.5g Cadmium Bromide
I added ether to alcohol first, then the salts and then guncotton.
As you’re adding nitrocellulose, constant stirring is required. I forgot about that part and ended up with a gelatinous mass at the bottom of the flask that was sticky and semi-transparent. Luckily I have a magnetic stirrer and so after helping the goo unstick from the bottom, I just left it on there for 20 minutes or so and, however unwillingly, the cotton eventually did dissolve.
In the book, it says that it’s ready to use “as soon as it has settles sufficiently clear.” Well, when I did it, it never clouded up, so it might have been good to go as soon as everything dissolved. My friend Race stopped by, though, and we went out for coffee while letting the mixture rest and mature a bit.
After 2 hours, I decided to give it a try and set up a quick still life of things found around the studio. Race stayed on to watch the experiment and to record it. Here’s a masterful shot by Race of yours truly pouring the first plate.
To my elation, the image came out rather well, though a bit overexposed and on the flatter side of contrast, but that’s explainable since fresh collodion always tends to be overly reactive and flat. Here it is being washed after development.
And here it is after fixing, still wet.
Note in the above image that on the top left there’s a black torn corner that wasn’t present there in the photo of the plate being washed after development. In that corner collodion layer lifted off the glass just a bit and was very fragile, so the action of water rushing over it while washing off the fixer put a tear in there. Normally I don’t see any lifting of collodion on my glass and this time I did nothing different in glass preparation, so I have to attribute this to the collodion.
I also have to note that this collodion seems to be on the thin side (perhaps it would be best to step up gun cotton concentration to 2%…?) and while wiping off some minor fog on the plate I did hours later and doing it in my usual manner with a wet loose cotton ball I did put a tiny tear into the emulsion, something that again almost never happens to me.
So yeah, this collodion might be a little more fragile than I’m used to, but I think I can easily get used to that.
Viewing alternative or even regular gelatin silver prints or plates on a computer screen is nearly pointless. There’s no way for the viewer to see the silver playing on the plate or how thick the collodion is… This surface was beautiful — the silver was dense with large crystals in highlight and seemed brighter than usual. I couldn’t resist and tried burnishing it.
Burnishing is a technique where one rubs the plate with something soft, essentially flattening silver crystals and making the image have a very shiny metallic appearance in the areas where it’s done. There’s no way to fully show it (even videos fall short), but below are similar close-up images of the plate before and after burnishing. The full plate after burnishing is the first image you saw in this post. Note below that along with reflective quality burnishing also changes the tone of the image to a cooler steel grey.
I waited another 4 hours and gave it another go with a new still life. By now the color has changed to a slightly deeper yellow and that was a good sign as that’s what collodion does as it matures. I did a few plates before I arrived at the one below. First one was still a bit overexposed, but the contrast was a lot better. I turned down the flash power and put in a smaller Waterhouse stop in my Dallmeyer 2B. 2nd plate was there exposure-wise, but I adjusted the composition a bit and so below is plate #3 of that batch done 6 hours after collodion was mixed.
Mixing up collodion from scratch was indeed somehow exciting and satisfying, so now I understand a lot better all the other folks who’ve been advising me to do so for a while. Now that I’ve had a taste of mixing it up with pure nitrated cotton, I will have to find me some more of that magic fluff or perhaps resort to making it myself as it’s really not that hard given proper precautions and equipment.
For now, I have enough to make maybe 6-7 more small batches, so I’m thinking of trying out a few more mixes and then zeroing in on one and making a few batches of it in a row to really get comfortable.
On December 22nd, I received an email from 500px saying that I sold a photo for $600. Obviously, I was thrilled — it’s nice to get something like this right before Christmas. Upon logging into my 500px account, I saw that there was another sale too for the same photo. The total from the two sales: $2,700.
Since one of the licenses was listed as “Product for Resale”, I assumed this must be something significant to deserve this kind of money.
I printed out the photo and put it in an envelope under the Christmas tree for my wife with a note showing the amount of money we’d be getting soon — enough to get some car repairs and other bills paid. I was so excited.
I sent a note to 500px because the payout was not listed as available. They said that for sales like this, it can take up to 45 days to make sure that it is legit and that the photo has been downloaded by the client.
On the morning of December 23rd, I received an email from 500px saying that they had made a mistake. While I had made two sales, it totaled $27, not $2700.
There appears to have been an error made in the processing of Payouts. You’ve definitely made a sale, but this amount has been adjusted. In a rush to make our users happy over the holidays, Payouts were processed as US cents, and not US dollars (USD). We realize how severe of an error this is, and apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you. As a 500px user, we value your contributions to the photographic community, and especially the work that is submitted for licensing on the 500px Marketplace. Our developers have addressed the issue, and you can now request the Payout using the following information…
Well, at least I can buy lunch, I thought. Then I find out that their system doesn’t allow for payouts for anything under $30.
Merry Christmas to me from 500px.
Editor’s Update: Freelance photographer George Papapostolou got in touch to share that he had this exact same issue happen to him. He was informed that he had sold two photos for a total of $6,000. Days later, the amount was suddenly changed to a total of $60.
About the author: Mike Martin is a photographer based in Naperville, Illinois. You can find more of his work on his website, 500px, Facebook, and Twitter.
A Look Back at 5 Weird Celebrity Gifts
Celebrities—they’re just like us, but infinitely stranger. From baby names to tour riders, we can count on the rich and famous to provide us with fresh heaps of absurdity in each coming day.
As it turns out, the realm of gift giving—of particular note during the holidays—is no exception. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite, shall we call them “off-the-beaten-path” gifts that celebrities have given each other over time, below.Rumors surrounding actor and noted oddball Jared Leto are, t…
How to Improve Creative Collaborations with Clients
Influential food stylist Victoria Granof says the basic the ingredient of a good creative collaborations is good communication. She says she’s lately been working with a “brand therapist,” who outlines three steps to productive collaboration: acknowledging the original idea, affirming its worth and then enhancing and expanding on it.
The first step, Granof explains, means articulating the concept. For example: “I hear that you want this steak to look rustic on a wooden background.” The second step—affirmation—means saying: “I think that’s a great idea. I understand that you want it to look like it came straight from the ranch.” In the third step, the concept can be built on or expanded, with both parties contributing ideas based on their understanding of the intended direction and the end goal.
That three-step approach builds rapport, and can be helpful when working with clients who are not sure what they want. Granof says it’s not unusual in a pre-production meeting for a client to tell her she has free reign, but then decide that the concepts she comes up with are “way off brand.” Using the three-step approach, she can tease out what the client really wants.
From “What Makes Creative Collaborations Successful”
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Sunday School: Fashion A to Z
The inimitable Tunisia-born couture designer was revered for his sculptural designs that deftly showcased the body. Alaïa’s offerings peerlessly telegraph sexuality, celebrating rather than objectifying the female form. Having studied sculpture as a teenager, much of his inspiration was culled from his fine arts background. Considered by many to be the arbiter of the supermodel, he populated his catwalks with the biggest personalities long before talents like Gianni Ver…
Microsoft Paid ‘Bliss’ Photog 0K+ and ‘Autumn’ Photog
The iconic default Microsoft XP wallpaper “Bliss” is considered to be the most-viewed photo of all time. While Microsoft paid the photographer behind that photo over $100,000 for the usage, a different photographer who shot the well-known “Autumn” wallpaper earned just $45.
Charles O’Rear is the American photographer who’s best known for shooting “Bliss” while driving through the Napa and Sonoma counties in California in January 1996. After submitting the photo to the Westlight stock photo agency, Westlight was acquired by Bill Gates’ Corbis in 1998.
Microsoft then selected O’Rear’s photo out of thousands of images in their stock library to illustrate the philosophy of Windows XP, and the company paid O’Rear an undisclosed sum that’s known to be over $100,000. The St. Helena Star writes:
Delivering the original image to Microsoft, however, was another issue. The Software giant paid an amount in the low six figures for the photo, something which still amazes O’Rear. Because of the value of the photo, however, the cost of insuring it was so prohibitive that even “Fed Ex wouldn’t touch it,” he said.
Ultimately, Microsoft paid for a plane ticket and he hand delivered the photo to their office in Seattle.
The photographer behind a different popular XP wallpaper, “Autumn,” received considerably less for his photo. Peter Burian submitted his photo to Corbis as a royalty free image and received a standard cut for Microsoft’s widespread usage.
Peter Burian shot the picture along with hundreds of frames in October 1999 while he was testing lenses for a photography trade magazine. He sent it to Corbis, where Microsoft probably purchased it for $300. Burian’s cut was $45 […]
“I was more shocked to find out that one of my photographs is available to hundreds of millions of people,” [Burian] says. “I didn’t think anything of it when I took it.”
It’s a tale of two photos. One earned a photographer a hefty sum of money, widespread recognition, and deals with brands like Lufthansa. The other earned a photographer a nice meal.
After unboxing the beast, Wong took the camera out to Durdle Door in England to put it through its paces.
Despite being such an expensive and high-end camera, the X1D is actually relatively simple when it comes to ease-of-use thanks to its minimalist interface.
The Hasselblad X1D “is made for a very specific purpose,” Wong states. “It’s going to suit landscape shooters who want that medium format image quality but don’t want the burden of that medium format weight.”
You’re going to need deep pockets to pick up one of these cameras and the pricey lenses in its ecosystem — the XCD 45mm f/3.5 lens Wong tests will set you back $2,700.
“But if you can get one, you’ll be rewarded with a beautifully designed medium format camera that produces images that are equally as mesmerizing as the camera’s aesthetics,” Wong concludes.
Phoebe Philo Will Depart From Celine
After 10 years as creative director at Céline, Phoebe Philo has announced that she will be leaving her position at the acclaimed fashion house. Before making her mark at the label, Philo caught the eye of the industry at Chloé in the early 2000s and in 2008 she arrived at Céline turning the once mid-level brand into a fashion authority that ushered in an era of minimalist designs, known for her emphasis on tailoring, menswear-inspired staples and dramatic silhouettes.
Now, with the new…