Photographer Markus Hofstaetter specializes in large format photography, including film and wet plate processes. We’ve featured his wet plate collodion photography before, including this article about shooting wet plate collodion exposures handheld and another one about capturing spooky Halloween wet plate portraits. If you’ve wanted to try wet plate photography for yourself, you may have been put off by a high barrier to entry. If the cost has kept you away, Hofstaetter’s new video about shooting with an affordable large format camera may be of particular interest.
For the wet plate process, you want a fast lens. Fast lenses are generally expensive, although there are some good deals out there, especially projection lenses. Hofstaetter recommends the Leitz Hektor 200mm F2.5. It covers 13 x 18 cm plates at typical portrait distances and has a razor-thin depth of field.
He mounts the lens to a Mentor camera. They’re typically affordable cameras and easy to repair. The camera Hofstaetter uses has a curtain shutter and strobe connector. The camera and bellows can be moved in many ways, making it suitable for many types of photography, including architecture and close-up work.
In the video below, Hofstaetter discusses the gear he’s using, how to set it up, how to make minor repairs, use the plate holder and the process of 3D printing special adapters for the camera to use certain lenses. Near the end of the video, we go behind the scenes with Hofstaetter on a portrait shoot.
Hofstaetter shoots more than portraits with his large format gear. Earlier this summer, while under lockdown, he enjoyed photographing local wildlife using a 4×5 large format camera. While you may not think of large format cameras as ideal wildlife gear, Hofstaetter made it work.
All images courtesy of Markus Hofstaetter and used with his permission