British photographer Jonathan Keys certainly stands out among contemporary photographers for his unusual photographic process, which brings the long-lost past and the present together. For starters, he uses a rare but still functional 130-year-old wooden Circa camera that requires about 15 minutes to finish one shot.
The collodion (or wet plate) technique that Keys uses was invented by Frederick Scott Archer in the 1850s and it was widely popular up until the 1880s for its fine detail. The process begins in the darkroom, where Keys pours collodion solution onto one side of a prepared flat glass pane and makes it sensitive to light by dipping it into silver nitrate. The plate must then be loaded into the camera before the photographer can leave the darkroom and shoot the desired frame.
Once he’s set up on his location, Keys takes the lens cap off the camera to expose the plate to light. It may take as long as 15 minutes for the shot to be exposed. After the exposure, the plate must be taken back to the darkroom, where it is processed much like a conventional film negative. The resulting photographs are simply breathtaking!