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I’ve come across two photo projects which are the same but opposite (stay with me)…

The first is by Christine Elfman who not only created a life-sized sculpture of a Victorian dress out of paper, but photographed it on glass plates and printed it with gold and egg whites. (If you haven’t yet gasped or squeeked with admiration, let me assure you that either of those parts would be worthy of a project in and of itself, let alone doing both.)

I’m a bit too enviously gobsmacked to do the project justice, so here’s a synopsis in the artist’s own words and an image:

Cabinet Card II - Christine Elfman

Storydress II is a series of photographs of a life-size paper mache and
plaster sculpture. The dress is made of paper mache stories that I
recorded of my great-grandmother’s autobiographical
reminiscences. Each photograph contains legible words. The
sculpture was photographed with the wet-plate collodion negative
process, printed on handmade gold-toned Albumen paper, and
burnished onto antique Cabinet Card mounts. For exhibition the
cabinet card photographs are displayed using an antique wooden
Graphoscope (magnifying device) and shelf.

The other project is a set of colour images taken between 1909 and 1912 by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii.

He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time – when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun.


Pinkhus Karlinskii, eighty-four years old with sixty-six years of service. Supervisor of Chernigov floodgate, part of the Mariinskii Canal system. Photo taken in 1909. (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

There are about 30 images to look at if you click on the photo above. I chose this one because you can see how the constant movement of the water makes the colours go a bit funny.

Both of these projects make me go a bit wiggly inside with the geeky joy of photography. I’m feeling a bit sad that I’ve not been doing much of the kind of photography that I like, the slightly precarious chemical mixing and timings.

I’m starting to learn that I have more in my head than I can get out and I need to concentrate in order to produce anything at all. So I’ll keep marvelling at other people’s work and hatching plans and eventually I’ll get the silver nitrate out again.