We had a fascinating visitor at the lifeboat station today – photographer Jack Lowe has set himself a mammoth task – to photograph every RNLI station in the Britain & Ireland using his 110 year old camera.
We were lucky enough to be only the 6th station photographed for the project which Jack estimates will take him approximately 3 years to complete. The aim is to take three photographs at each station – a view of the waters protected by each station (from the station), a portrait of the Coxswain/Senior Helmsman and a group portrait of the crew.
Working on 10×12 inch glass plates Jack has to ‘cook’ each plate in preparation for every shot which involves coating the plate with a thin, even layer of UV sensitive Silver Nitrate, the plate is then inserted into the back of the camera, an exposure made (which today each lasted around 7 or 8 seconds). After the exposure is made the image is developed in Jack’s mobile darkroom, a converted ambulance, named ‘Neena’ (get it?!).
It was a fascinating process to watch the images being made, from cooking the glass through to the developing image appearing and it wasn’t just myself as a photographer that enjoyed watching the process, many of the crew got the chance to stand in the ambulance as Jack developed these amazing & historical photographs. The early Victorian process is known as the Wet Plate Collodion process, it certainly makes planning each shot a much more considered & thought-out process than taking a quick shot on a digital camera.
For more information about the project visit the website here.
Below, Jack explains the process to some of the crew…
A man happy in his work!
A sneak preview of the shot of the crew….
…and my take on it but with Jack in the shot!
Jack’s portrait of our Senior Helmsman Dave Hagan…
Sheringham’s Lifeboat Operations Manager Brian Farrow & crewman Jamie Crisp watching the development process…
Thanks again to Jack on behalf of Sheringham Lifeboat for today’s visit, looking forward to seeing the results of all his hard work & best of luck on the rest of the project.