UK wet plate weekend at Guys Cliffe House

Another busy weekend, this time at Guys Cliffe House in Warwick. An excellent location this year arranged by Ray Spence. With thanks to property caretaker Adrian.

We had hired the property for our annual wet plate weekend. An open invite to all wet platers in the UK and anyone else who can make it from around the globe. (Via the Facebook group Collodion UK & Ireland)

The weather held all weekend and there was no sign of rain. Saturday morning there was even an excellent tour of the property by the caretaker Adrian. Guys Cliffe House is an amazing property with a rich and varied history. Well worth looking into it.

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This year saw 15 wet platers in attendance. Although some shot film, pinhole and printed Bromoil in the field!  Most had arrived by Friday evening, with a few more pitching up over the weekend.

Tony Richards, Ray Spence, Andrew Billington, Kevin Lunham, Laura Rhiannon Peters, William Cameron, Jo Gane, Stephen Pridgeon, Colin Boughen, Tim Ingmire, Willow Heath, Mark Voce, Gregg McNeill, Simon Harbord and Mark Acton…. still no sign of the lesser spotted Edward Mountain though.

Friday most people had set up and shot a few plates to get a feel of the place. The evening started with heading to the nearby pub for a meal, a chat and a few beers, continued around the campfire until an unearthly 03.30

Throughout the weekend there various reports of strange spooky going ons. Guys Cliffe reportedly one of the most haunted places in the UK. Even Mark Voce started to question strange happenings when his cameras batteries, yes batteries, kept draining to empty instantly.

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I still had all the kit in the van from the previous weekend, so made do with the sliding box camera and folding Brownie 3A. Not well suited for such an architectural setting but it did the job. No camera movements and a wide open lens f4 on the box camera and the kodak needs to be held at waste level and arms length to be able to see through the viewfinder so composition was guesswork most of the time.

I eventually succumb to a dreaded lurgy, how I managed to shoot any plates, let alone any I was happy with was beyond me. I found one scene to try to concentrate on and make a plate with some of Colin’s props he’d brought along.

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I gave up trying to shoot as my breathing was becoming very wheezy. Soon to develop into a full on chest infection. I’m still suffering over a week later, more about that at the end of the post.

I did manage to print one cyanotype from the plate. I’m not a big fan of the blue print but it is one of the easier processes to print on location.

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This is with the standard A&B chemistry, on a watercolour heavyweight paper. Toned in the leaves from the teapot and a teaspoon of coffee for around 20 minutes.

I like it.

Thanks to everyone for coming along and a great weekend, lovely to meet some new faces and my apologies for my lack of social activity but I was feeling pretty rough by Saturday.

And thanks to Simon for these drone images, I was quite impressed with the setup, just using his mobile phone and a drone that folded up neatly to pack away in a small box.

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Following on from that weekend I’ve now been looking into any possibility that the chemistry is the root cause to my chest problems. I seem to get 3-4 head colds/chest infections a year, which looking back is way too many.

It’s strange that studio work doesnt seem to affect me as badly as location work, which is well ventilated being outdooors? Maybe it’s the ammount of plates I shoot on location compared to the studio? It was also the second long weekend of wet plating. I’m now looking into changing my collodion pour workflow as a concencus  of opinion seems to agree on issues with Ether fumes. I guess we do become complacent with chemistry and it’s a reminder to be careful at all times whatever the process.