Over the years we've covered several stories about photographer Markus Hofstätter and we're happy to report that he continues to awe and inspire. His film photography projects just keep getting better. If you follow his blog (and we highly suggest that you do) then you'd know that he likes to keep busy. His creativity takes him from one project/experiment to the next and we're always eager to see the results.
For this project, Markus decided to create a DIY wet plate camera as part of his workshop with a client. The whole affair was two years in the making. It was booked before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and it was just recently that they got the chance to meet up for the workshop. Aside from making a DIY camera (that he planned to assemble with Corinne, his client), they decided to recreate the ghost photos that were popularized by photographer William Mumler
Mumler was a photographer who specialized in capturing "ghost" photos using the wet plate collodion process. His most famous work was arguably the photo of Mary Todd Lincoln with the apparition of her husband, Abraham Lincoln. Mumler's reputation as a "spirit photographer" rose in the following years and the appeal of his work remains alive to this day.
With a plan in mind and all the materials on hand, Markus and Corinne began working on their DIY camera. They used a variety of processes such as 3D printing and water jet cutting. They even created their ground glass for the camera which yielded incredible clarity once the camera was fully assembled. Watching them do their work on the DIY camera is fascinating, and that's not even the exciting part.
Once everything was set up, they then proceeded with the recreation of the ghost photographs. Markus used the wet plate camera they assembled and fitted it with a Leitz 150 mm f/2.8 Dimaron lens to capture the first portrait of the workshop. The outcome is a well-exposed portrait of Corinne, along with all the outstanding details. After that, they traded the "Frankenstein camera" for a century large format camera and 18 x 24 cm plates to capture the ghost photos they were aiming for. It's safe to say they nailed the look.
Markus continues to amaze with his skills in photography and building astonishing projects. Watching them go through the different processes of the camera build is a delight for any tinkerer and builder. As for the fans of his creative exploits, we're sure that they'd be thrilled to see him in action, especially the behind-the-scenes of the ghost photoshoot. We hope he never tires of exploring the quirky and wonderful world of film photography.
We would like to thank Markus for sharing his work with us. Follow him on his blog to stay up-to-date with his latest creative projects and fun analogue experiments.