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A Personal Evolution

Dale Wilson 1851 ambrotype antique collodion dale wilson glass negative historical photo processes pictureology tintype

We’re new, and we’re having some fun.

Well, we’re not really that new. The principal behind Antique Pictureology is me - Dale Wilson, and I have been working full time as a photographer for close to 30 years.

I started like many others in this industry, shooting and working in a black and white darkroom for a community newspaper.  The smells of hypo and developer never leave the sensory, and the magic of watching an image mystically appear on a sheet of Ilford No.2 gloss (the only paper the newspaper would stock) leaves a lasting impression.

After several years it was on to the excitement of commercial and editorial work which I loved. This moved me away from black and white and into the world of chrome and E6. At the height of my busiest years I would be processing between 50- 75 rolls/sheets of E6 film (in various formats) per week. 

For the past 12-15 years most photographers have naturally immigrated to digital, myself included. Our clients demanded instant results, and timelines decreased to the point of having to pull all nighters to make a file press ready. There was much education required as the industry re-invented itself. “What do you mean I have to pay for post-production,” became the mantra of uninformed clients, and this left photographers reeling with how to keep certain clients and dismissing others. Whereas the digital darkroom introduced an exciting opportunity to push the craft of photography further than it had ever been, it also displaced the traditional smells of hypo to all but a few diehards.

In 2012, I was hearing more and more about the ambrotype and wet plate collodion process. I found a museum that was working in the process, and had been since 1967. I convinced the director to allow me in for a two day introduction workshop, the smells immediately transported back to my beginnings in this wonderful profession. Better still I was transported back to the beginnings of our medium to explore that technique and processes of our mediums originators. Best of all, the magic of the darkroom image had not only returned, it was elevated to a level I was not anticipating. I was later told by my instructor I had inadvertently dropped the F-bomb when I watched that first negative turn to a positive in the KCN bath. Now this is the stuff of magic!

The magic had returned and I vowed I would continue to explore on my terms and on my time. What I was also to learn, and continue to learn, is that WPC dictates the timelines – not the practitioner.  This is a craft where the journey is the reward, not the end result. What a humbling experience this process can be, and is.

With that in mind, this is how I arrived at my little online store: Antique Pictureology.

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