At first, these remarkable photographs by Jonathan Keys appear to have been taken some time in the distant 1800s. But on closer inspection, the presense of cars, neon signs and spray-painted graffiti, reveal these pictures to be photos of present-day England.
To achieve this richly textured, retro aesthetic, Keys uses a 130-year-old Circa camera and a 1920’s lens, with a wet plate collodion process, a photographic technique developed by Frederick Scott Archer in the 1850s, to take the pictures. In a darkroom, Keys pours collodion onto one side of a glass plate, then dips it into silver nitrate making it sensitive to light. This is then loaded into his camera, with which he travels around Newcastle looking for suitable subjects and locations. One an image has been selected, Keys takes off the lens cap and exposes the plate, which is then developed.
As the whole process is so time-consuming, Keys only takes two-to-six photographs a day. However, he finds the whole experience far more satisfying than digital photography.