Beautiful screw-ups

Added on by Emil Ryge.

While I was studying photojournalism in Aarhus we did a reportage workshop with Peter Hove from Danish newspaper Politiken. He did something incredible cool that most photographers giving talks and workshops never do; he started out by showing stuff that had gone terribly wrong. It was incredibly liberating to sit in front of an accomplished photograher who wasn't affraid to admit, that things sometimes just doesn't work. I'm a strong believer in experimenting and taking chances and sometimes stuff just doesn't pan out.

One of the reason I got into wet plate was to loose some of the control over the process and the final results, which - I must say - has been fully accomplished. I'm constantly trying to get better at this, but I'm not interested in getting too good - the errors are part of the fun. 

In that spirit I've put together some of the plates that have gone wrong in various ways.

I'm pretty sure that crazy thing in the right corner is paint from the century old film holder getting wet from the silver nitrate and dripping onto the plate. Looks pretty cool, if you ask me.

I'm pretty sure that crazy thing in the right corner is paint from the century old film holder getting wet from the silver nitrate and dripping onto the plate. Looks pretty cool, if you ask me.

Cousin Oliver with bubbles across his face. These arise from sentizising in a tray and not getting the silver to flow evenly onto the plate (I think).

Cousin Oliver with bubbles across his face. These arise from sentizising in a tray and not getting the silver to flow evenly onto the plate (I think).

Lack of contrast. Not quite sure why this is happening, but I think it's due to using an old, un-coated lens and having light hit it directly.

Lack of contrast. Not quite sure why this is happening, but I think it's due to using an old, un-coated lens and having light hit it directly.

Focus issues. I've been having massive focus issues and for a while blamed my inability as a photographer. Turns out the plate holder I'm using was 2mm off from the ground glass and hence the focal plane. 2 mm and months of frustrations. It took two pieces of card board to fix it once I figured it out.

Focus issues. I've been having massive focus issues and for a while blamed my inability as a photographer. Turns out the plate holder I'm using was 2mm off from the ground glass and hence the focal plane. 2 mm and months of frustrations. It took two pieces of card board to fix it once I figured it out.

Finally, I want to share this one with you. This is an un-fixed plate that came out bad and was left in the sun right after development. I found it after several hours in the sun. If you look carefully there's a slight, brown image behind all the craziness.