Oldparson

P H O T O G R A P H Y
(Simon Williams)

View my work at Studio3 gallery in Clevedon, Somerset. BS216TD.

I am there in person every 
Tuesday 10am-4pm

SimonW_Studio3--6.jpg

Vintage Photography
Using 100-year old cameras

I am an artist-photographer, formerly a science teacher and a church minister, living and working in Weston Super Mare.

 

I make images using antique cameras and historical processes - sometimes with a modern twist.

 

The speed and ease with which we can now take photographs is amazing - but in the haste we can lose the pleasure and mindfulness that a slower form of the process can offer. Taking a stand against the relentless drive for ever more MEGA-images that are becoming more “real” than reality, this work celebrates the imperfections of a more basic process. With no batteries or micro-chips these cameras can be used to create evocative images that invite the viewer into them. Pristinely clear images from our modern cameras and phones can be scanned, appraised - re-tweeted or ignored and then forgotten, but an image that draws you to explore, think, imagine - can create and deposit something of value in us, that will last.

I hope I carry some of this ethos across to my digital work - much of which is landscapes and nature. The motivation is to share the awe and wonder I find in these subjects, believing that through that they point to their creator.

 

My equipment is almost entirely antique, mostly over 100 years old. My out and about" camera is a Thornton Pickard Imperial, full plate, 8.5x6.5”, bellows, triple extending, field camera with a roller shutter and Beck symmetrical lens (f8 to f64). I also enjoy using a 10x8” New Countess field camera for indoors work and for large collodion wetplates. 

I love working with the old cameras even though they present problems. There is something special about using an historic camera:

“Things men have made with wakened hands, and put soft life into
are awake through years with transferred touch, and go on glowing
for long years.
And for this reason, some old things are lovely
warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them.”
― D.H. Lawrence

 

My “film” can be ordinary sheet film, but is most often X-ray film which can react to ordinary green and blue light (not red). When I first started using these antique cameras it was with photographic paper as film and I still enjoy the special look and feel it gives. Most recently I have been learning to make wetplate collodion photographs, the technology for which was 50 years old when my cameras were made.

 

The prints I produce from negatives are contact-prints and are therefore the same size as the original negative. I print on ordinary photographic paper but enjoy more hand-coating watercolour paper with solutions of iron and silver salts to make “cyanotypes”, “Vandyke Browns" and "Argyrotypes".


The hand-made nature of the images allows me to exercise artistic control over the look and feel of the images producing images that, when it works well, convey the sense of the subject as much as its looks.

On this website I share some pf the techniques I have learned, the equipment I use and the fine art photography images I have made. Images are for sale to enquire use the contact form.(National Trust and English Heritage subjects not included)