The Victorian Photographer
About Kasia Wozniak
Kasia Wozniak is a photographer who specialises in the Wet Plate Collodion process. She’s intrigued by how the photographic image can become an object in its own right in the age of digital image making. Follow her: @KasiaWozniak
We walk through a gate into the cobbled street that makes up Pullens Yard in South London and pass studios filled with potters, silversmiths and web designers before arriving at the door to Kasia Wozniak’s photography studio.
She’s full of energy and greets us with a smile as she continues packing up all the equipment she will be taking on our weekend getaway. Portable dark room, chemicals and let’s not forget the beautiful 1920’s collodion camera. There is a lot of equipment and as we carry it carefully to the car the boot quickly fills up.
Once we’re all buckled up we set the GPS to Brecon Beacons in Wales and leave the hustle and bustle of London behind us. The feeling of excitement builds with each mile that passes and as the signs switch from English to Welsh we get a sense of the beautiful landscapes that awaits us.
Just as the sun peaks out from behind the clouds we realise that we’re surrounded by nature. Sheep grazing to our right and the Beacons reservoirs to our left, the dramatic hills frame the landscape perfectly.
Go outside and search for something different.
We decide to stop, have a look around and stretch our legs by walking up a small trail. Knowing the weather forecast we should have seen it coming, and sure enough in less than an hour the dark clouds appeared. However, at that very same moment, a majestic landscape stretched out in front of us, making the road where we left the car look insignificant.
The unpredictability of the weather and the beauty of the landscape dominate the conversation around the dinner table that night as we planned our photographic adventure for the next day.
When we wake up the landscape we admired the day before is nowhere to be seen. The fog is heavy and the visibility is limited. All we see is grey fog moving slowly across the landscape. Our plan to climb the summit of Pen Y Fan is not happening. Kasia is slightly worried but these changes are also part of the fun.
We find ourselves driving around Brecon Beacons, looking for something that only Kasia can see. She says something about trees. How they remind her of the portraits she takes back in her studio. Each with their own personality and story to tell. We suddenly pull over.
This is it. This is the shot we've been looking for.
This is it. This is the shot we’ve been looking for. We set up the portable dark room as the rain is trickling down. All the chemicals are being carried over from the car and put in position. As she sets up the camera in front of a naked tree she prepares to honour and interpret a process that was invented in the middle of the 19th century.
It’s a delicate process that is so much more than just taking a picture; it’s the creation of a photograph, an experiment in the making. And Kasia is there, every step of the way making sure that everything is just right, adding a bit here, timing something there. When the first picture appears on the plate she is nowhere to be seen, already busy preparing for the second one.
It’s a perfectly imperfect portrait of the landscape we’re in.
It’s art and Victorian technology coming together to capture the timeless landscape that is Brecon Beacons. The story each image tells is written in Kasia’s process but also the subject she captures. The historic creative method only adds to the beauty; a couple of scratches and the lack of colour effortlessly capture the weather. It’s a perfectly imperfect portrait of the landscape we’re in.
As the rain keeps falling we see people head up the trail towards Pen Y Fan, some return quickly while others seem to take the time to make it all the way up and back. Kasia continues to take a few more pictures before we decide that it’s time to find another location.
We approach the next location overlooking a beautiful valley. Gone is the fog and the rain which have been replaced with panoramic views and breath taking clouds. Reminding us that in Brecon Beacons nothing lasts forever.
On our way home we reflect on what we just experienced. The memories we created, the images we captured and the textures we felt. It was everything and nothing like what we imagined. At the mercy of nature we adapted, changed and improvised. Writing the story as we went along. A true adventure. And it’s those adventures that will enrich your life and make you want to go back for more.
To learn more about Kasia and her photography, please visit her website.