Photos & Projects

“Inspired” – Photographing Inspiring People with my Dream Lens – By Marcus Hofstätter

April 28, 2021

Inspiration is one of the most beautiful feelings for me. People who work with passion on their art/project can be very inspiring. But there are also others who have had to deal with certain situations in their life and have overcome or mastered them amazingly.

This article is about these people. And it all started with me looking for a unique lens. I have been looking for this lens for some years now and on my way to the final piece made of brass and glass I bought several other lenses. But now with the new project in my mind I wanted to finally have this one lens.

The lens I am talking about is a Dallmeyer 3B Petzval design lens. It’s a pretty fast lens (290mm F3) and not so easy to get in a good condition. You can watch the video about what I am going to talk about in this article below, or else please keep reading.

It’s even less easy to get] these days when there are no flea markets. And buying a lens in this price range over the internet is kind of scary. That’s the reason I asked Denis of wetplatedreams.com to get me one.

I’ve known Denis now for some time and always get great gear from him. He is very passionate and has lots of knowledge about historical photographic equipment. He also does most of the renovation by himself.

So you guys can imagine how excited I was when he wrote me that he found a lens. And the most exciting part of that was that the lens is from 1876 and in mint condition.

Mr. Dallmeyer, who moved from Germany to London, started to produce portrait lenses from 1866. That means that I got a very early copy in an amazing condition.

The amazing thing is, I’ve got photographs from Dallmeyer’s workers from back then that shows how they build the lenses. I have to refer here to the video above, because I got the images licensed for the video only. But when you watch that you will be amazed.

When I finally held the beauty in my hands, I was feeling like a little kid in front of the Christmas tree. It was an amazing feeling to hold such a beauty in my hands

There was just one part missing and that is a appropriate lens cap. If you follow me on YouTube, you know I make them by myself, but this whole project is about passion and inspiration. That’s the reason I asked Andreas to build a lens cap for me.

Andreas is also a fellow wet plate photographer with the passion of building beautiful lens caps. For him it is like meditating when he builds his beauties. He works 5+ hours on one lens caps and builds even wooden lens models to create a perfect fit.

Unpacking this beautiful artwork made of leather and soft felt was another nice moment in my journey to my “Inspired” series.

Now I have to jump back even more, because I also got myself a beautiful Cambo studio stand from the 60’s. This 150kg Stand makes my life much easier when shooting portraits with my 8×10 or 12×16 inch camera. I had to borrow a transporter from some friends to get pick it up and needed the help of a friend to carry it into my studio.

After I had everything together, I asked combo if there is any need of maintenance for this old piece, but they instantly replied that as long as it works there is nothing to do. I am quite happy with a stand, it makes my life much easier. I also documented my journey to this one here:

Enough talk about gear? Not really, because I think there is one elephant in the room I have to talk about. Is gear important? Couldn’t I have done this project with a modern lens/camera combination? Yes of course I could have used modern equipment. But it makes a difference to me when I am allowed to work with authentic cameras and lenses. The whole story about passionate people who made it possible for me to use this gear inspires me. And it inspires also my sitters when I tell them the whole story. And this makes a difference in the final outcome of the “Inspired” series.

Inspired – the people

Now I want to talk about the people that sat in front of my camera.

One of them is Michael White – a former Producer/Director/Author. His historical documentary – Azorian The Raising of the K-129 has received international praise and has been shown by Networks in the US, Europe, Australasia, Asia.

Also his Book over the same story – Project Azorian the CIA and the Raising of the K-129 received positive critics in the US and worldwide.

He worked as special effects technician in his earlier career on many well known movies, like Superman the Movie, Flash Gordon, The Pink Panther, The Neverending Story, Enemy Mine, to name a few.

For more information on Michael White visit www.white.at

Another person that inspires me with his work is the tattoo artist Manuel Soultan. His tattoos look like vivid three dimensional photographs. He designs every artwork by himself to create a one of a kind tattoo. You can check out his work on his website msctattoos.at or on his instagram: instagram.com/manuelsoultantattoos

I’ve known Jennifer now for many years. She was the legal guardian of her brothers from a very young age. As long as I know her, she always was and is a very happy and positive person. 12 years later, they are all successful in their jobs and grew to wonderful human beings. That’s why she is so inspiring to me. When I remember myself at her age, I was just a young man who wanted to have fun and had not many responsibilities. But she even enjoyed it to be there for her younger brothers from the beginning.

I wanted to capture her happiness in one portrait. With the wet collodion process, that is not an easy task, so I had to be a bit sneaky during the shoot. I pre-focused and put the plate holder into the camera. Turned the strobe power up to prepare myself for a short exposure and had a normal conversation with her to “prepare” her for the portrait. I didn’t tell her that I was planning to do a quick exposure by hand as soon as she smiled. So we had our conversation and as always Jennifer was in a great mood and so I rushed the lens cap off and fired the strobe without telling her what has going on. And with that I go the expression everybody sees so often on her.

You can find the bts video of Jennifer here: https://youtu.be/ti91h0jvqZI 

I will also use images I took before, because I am very fortunate to be able to take portraits of other amazing artists

Lois Lammerhuber – Photographer/Author/Publisher/Organizer edition.lammerhuber.at

Katharina Gallhuber – Austrian alpine skier + Olympic Medalist @katharina.f.gallhuber wikipedia

Gabriel Baharlia – Portrait Artist/Photographer @baharlia

There are many more people that will sit in front of my camera. To get the latest update of the “Inspired” book, visit http://inspired.mhaustria.com 

Check my YouTube channel YouTube.com/mhaustria
and Instagram page instagram.com/mhaustria/
also my blog http://blog.mhaustria.com for updates.
For wet plate workshops you can contact me here markus-hofstaetter.at/pages/kontakt/
and if you like analog stuff, you can check out my analog store: store.mhaustria.com

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    thorsten wulff
    April 28, 2021 at 10:16 am

    Incredible! Congrats to your Dallmeyer.

    • Reply
      Markus Hofstätter
      April 28, 2021 at 10:19 am

      Thanks a lot Thorsten! Looking forward to upcoming portrait sessions.

  • Reply
    Paul Brant
    April 28, 2021 at 10:39 am

    Many thanks for your article . Very interesting , and great portraits!

  • Reply
    Peter Grey
    April 28, 2021 at 11:33 pm

    Very interesting and the photography I find outstanding!

  • Reply
    Peter
    April 29, 2021 at 4:34 am

    A nice read…

  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    May 1, 2021 at 3:58 pm

    Some impressive photos there. Were they all “comfortable” sitters or did you need to get them to adopt a pose of some sort as they all looked like they knew how to be photographed. Love that shot of Gabriela Baharlia

    • Reply
      Markus Hofstätter
      May 1, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      Thank you so much!
      We worked on that together and found a comfortable pose for everyone. My portrait sessions are about positive energy and a good feeling. I would not make sense to force somebody into a pose they are not comfortable with. There is enough time when I shoot an plate an hour 🙂

  • Reply
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