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About the Cover Photographer – Jeff Michalek

MihalekPhotography is the first true mode of time travel. In my process, I search for dimension in blurring the lines between the decades and allowing a story to emerge as reflected in the mindset of the viewer. I employ the earliest methods of photography, because they themselves are a trip back in time and require a science and craftsmanship that bring me equal parts joy and frustration. I currently use the wet plate collodion process and salt and oil prints for all of my created scenes and portraits.

The cover photo is a gold-toned salt print from a wet plate negative. Basically, after the camera and model are positioned and focused, I return to my darkroom to make the negative for the picture. I pour salted collodion on a glass plate coated with egg white, and after a few seconds dunk the plate into a silver nitrate bath in a darkened room. After five minutes I pull the now sensitized glass plate from the bath and place it, dripping wet, into a light-tight plate holder. I can now take the plate holder out to the camera, re-check the focus and lighting, remove the focus screen from the camera and attach the film holder. Exposures for the wet plate process are extremely slow so most photograph of models require a head brace which is hidden right behind the model. This exposure was seven seconds in open shade on a sunny day. After the exposure, I return to the darkroom and develop the plate and fix the image with cyanide. This whole process needs to be done in under 10 minutes, because if the plate dries, then it loses its sensitivity. This is only a third of the work that’s required to make the final image. After the initial image is captured on the glass plate and fixed, I need to redevelop the image in order to build up enough density on the plate to make a salt print. The salt printing process is pretty labor intensive, too. First, salted paper needs to be made, then the subsequent hand-coating and developing of the image. The process takes about two hours from developing to washing. The negative for the cover image took about 20 minutes exposure in direct sunlight.
If you are interested in learning these photographic processes or more about my art, visit