Using a Zeiss 300mm Lens for a Wet Plate Self Portrait Project

Markus Hofstatter, a wet plate photographer, recently purchased a Zeiss 300mm F/4.5 lens. Although it produced stunning results, the journey to get to a final image was fraught with many obstacles.

Hofstatter, an Austrian-based photographer, is not afraid to try DIY solutions for antique equipment. Hofstatter is a master at bringing traditional techniques and gear into the modern age. He has created a mobile darkroom from an ice fishing tent, repaired a Linhof tripod that had been damaged, and made his own ground glass focusing screen.

Hofstatter modified an old lens board to fit his new Zeiss lens. He did this with the aid of a drill. He broke the entire board and instead turned to his 3D printer for help.

Markus Hofstatter's Zeiss lens

The new board was printed after eight hours. However, Hofstatter noticed that the build plate, which is the flat surface used for the bottom layer of the printing process, was damaged. This caused extra time to fix the printer and replace the build plate.

Markus Hofstatter's darkroom

Hofstatter was not satisfied with the first copy of his lens board so he had to print another. Eight hours later, it was ready for fine-tuning. Hofstatter had to drill holes for screws, and then paint the board matte black before it could be fitted.

His struggles did not end there. Hofstatter was unable to invite anyone to his studio because of the pandemic lockdown. He decided to take a self-portrait with multiple exposures, as he didn’t have any other subjects.

Markus Hofstatter's Zeiss lens

He converted his studio to a darkroom so he could take multiple exposures. Hofstatter took three exposures of his plate, changing the position each time. Hofstatter’s YouTube video shows how his plate transforms into a stunning image.

Hofstatter added another part to the video after posting the first. He was able photograph a family using the Zeiss lens he just bought.

You can find more Hofstatter’s work on his website, Instagram and blog. He also lists the tools he uses to take wet-plate photographs. ArtPal can show Hofstatter’s prints taken from the shoot.