Luther Gerlach: A Demonstration of Collodion Ambrotype Processing and Printing.


I will be producing wet plate collodion ambrotypes on 22×30” pieces of stained glass. This process dates from the early 1850’s. I built the camera being used to produce these images. I will demonstrate using a variety of historical lenses from my personal collection. My traveling darkroom is a repurposed 25-passenger airport shuttlebus. Each demonstration will take approximately 45 minutes: 15 minutes to contextualize the process (historical significance, personal experience), then for about half an hour I will go over every step of the process as I produce the image.

About Luther Gerlach

Luther Gerlach is one of the foremost artists working in historical photographic processes. For the past 30 years, he has been involved with many aspects of the art form, including lecturing and demonstrating at museums, universities and private workshops; building the cameras he works with and collecting lenses, cameras and other historical photographic technologies. Gerlach has conducted workshops and master classes across the United States and Europe, including at the inaugural European Wet plate collodion symposium. As expert in historical processes he has contributed to the Getty Museum’s Encyclopedia of Photographic Processes. As an artist, “my main emphasis is working with the poetic structure of light to coax layers of meaning and beauty from my subject matter.”

Gerlach uses his extensive collection of antique cameras and lenses for his work, with a special focus on mammoth plate cameras. His primary focus for the last 15 years has been the wet plate collodion process. Gerlach has done over 200 on-site demonstrations, lectures and workshops at the J. Paul Getty Museum and was a featured speaker at the 2015 Alternative Photographic International Symposium. He has taught historical photographic processes at universities around the country, including UCLA, Art Center, Tulane, Brooks Institute of Photography and New York Film School. His work is exhibited internationally and included in major private and museum collections.

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