The monstrous fish people created by J. Anthony Kosar and his team at Kosart Effects are amazing! I wanted to shoot portraits of these Deep One characters to compliment my main INNSMOUTH photograph. Because the story by H.P. Lovecraft Shadow Over Innsmouth describes generations of Innsmouth inhabitants going back decades, I decided to shoot the portraits as genuine wet plate photographs utilizing photo technology from the 1800’s.
This type of wet plate photography is like alchemy and utilizes dangerous chemicals that can asphyxiate you or even cause an explosion. I recruited knowledgeable wet plate photographer Steve Wilson to come in and help. I worked for Steve Wilson at Hallmark Cards as a young photographer. He was an early important mentor and it was great to work with him again.
We shot the portraits in my home. Kosar and I dressed wooden mannequins in period costumes and posed them for the camera.
Steve used a powerful HMI light because wet plate has a very slow exposure time and requires a tremendous amount of light. I love the idea that some young man from Innsmouth participated in the Civil War as a Massachusetts resident.
Here you can see Steve manning the large 8×10 View Camera. I helped frame and light our portrait subjects.
After exposing a metal plate that he had prepared with a light-sensitive chemical coating, Steve would remove the plate from the camera and develop it in my kitchen while we watched.
I think the singular aesthetics of the wet plate process lend themselves beautifully to gothic subject matter.
See you next time!