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Capturing modern life as the Victorians did as the VICTORIANSDID.

Byline: Michael Brown Reporter

THESE HESE views of Newcastle and its people seem to hark back to a bygone age - but look closely and you realise all is not what it seems.

e clothes are too modern, the streets are lined with cars, and everywhere amid the Victorian era visuals sit the hustle and bustle of life in 2014.

Victorian But far from computer trickery, the unusual images are the work of Benwell photographer Jonathan Keys, who's ditched his digital camera in favour of a giant wooden relic from the 1880s.

collodion "I did a lot of digital and lm work and then I just stumbled across the collodion process about three years ago," said Jonathan, 41.

"It's an old photo process developed in the 1850s that's like taking a Polaroid but on glass.

"You've got to sensitise the plates to light. en each exposure takes a minimum of two seconds and you've got to get the developer on before the silver nitrate dries out - so you have to carry a dark room with you."

e time it takes to capture each shot depends on the light conditions, with "one photo in a darkened warehouse requiring Jonathan to stand stock still for 12 minutes.

And the entire "wet plate" process - from preparing the plate to taking a photo and developing it - takes around 15 minutes per picture.

After the plates are developed, unlike negatives and digital photos, the nished plate can be sealed with varnish to stop the silver oxidising, turning it into a permanent record.

"It's really therapeutic - I only do four or six at a time - but now I've a box full of plates."

Jonathan admits that he's often quizzed by curious members of the public about using such an unusual camera, including famous comedian Johnny Vegas.

"People have been mostly amazed that something so old is still being used," the self-employed photographer, whose camera, nicknamed elma, is from the 1880s and lens is from the 1920s, said.

For the past six months, Jonathan has been teaching vintage photo equipment supplier Paul Cordes, from North Shields, how to create collodion images. "ese cameras used to go to collectors but now there's been a resurgence in people buying them and actually using them. It's great because that is what they were made for," said Paul, 49, who runs Classic Photographics.

Maw-"Back in the Victorian era the best collodion used to be made by Mawson and Swan in Newcastle.

"Many people know that Joseph Swan was involved with the invention of the lightbulb but not so many know about his photographic involvement. He perfected the process of using gun cotton - a material used on wounded soldiers - and ether to adhere the silver nitrate to the plate. And there are rumours that George Eastman from Kodak came to Newcastle to see it."

ew-work-" Jonathan now hopes to run workshops during the summer to show others how the process works and to display some of his work at the Newcastle Photographic Festival -which will celebrate Swan's photographic achievements - in October.

ewcastle Photographic


Jonathan Keys, who uses a 130-year-old plate camera to take pictures around Newcastle | CHRONICLE PI LE PICTURES: TURES: IAI AIN BUIST

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 21, 2014
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