We’re used to cameras getting smaller and smaller, but photographer Ian Ruhter had the opposite idea. For a project he was working on, Ruhter and his team took an abandoned house in Bombay Beach, California, sealed it up tightly so no light would leak in, and then mounted a big lens in one wall to project an image onto a 66 by 90 inch piece of glass. They used the camera to produce a portrait of a local 100-year-old resident who had recently become homeless.
Ruhter and his team used what’s called a wet collodion plate process to take the photo. In this process, a piece of glass coated at the last minute with a collodion solution – a mixture of chemicals, zinc bromide and silver nitrate that becomes sensitive to light.
There are some good reasons why this technique isn’t used much anymore; the glass must be completely coated with the solution just prior to the exposure, which used to be up to 10 minutes long but in this case took only 10 seconds.
Ruhter and his team explain the process and the project in the video below, which is on the Vimeo Silver and Light Channel.