4.25″ x 5.25″ Black glass ambrotype


Mary Lou Reed, United States

Mary Lou Reed (aka Maire) describes herself as:

“Just another mild-mannered geology and physics degreed, former park ranger, writer, middle-school teacher, with just enough knowledge, enthusiasm and luck regarding wet plate to be dangerously happy dabbling with the process.”

However, as anyone can see from even the most passing glance at Lost World, there is rather more than a bit of ‘dabbling’ going on here.  Although this is the image that Mary Lou decided to submit in the end, it was not the only idea she’d had while waiting to finally get her hands on the Mask.   The image is an ambrotype on black glass, made on a half-plate 1850s style sliding box camera, with an 8″ focal lengthy Petzval lens.  A 400W Metal Halide bulb in a horticultural socket was the only light source, and a twelve second exposure was required, as the set up pushed beyond the field capability of the lens.

“As for the subject matter…just another Apocalyptic cautionary tale of whimsy.”

Like many photographers taking part in the series, Mary Lou was keen to have not just an image that simply worked, but one which she was ultimately pleased with.   While no one can argue with her that she has made an excellent choice, we are also very grateful that she has agreed to share here one of the images she decided against using, entitled He Shot Her A Glance.

He shot her a glance

“Although this image didn’t end up looking the way I wanted it to, I am fine with having my out-take being included. The whole thing about the Mask Series is about sharing and learning from each other, for me anyway.”

Reeds Three
Mary Lou Reed is part of the team known as The Vacant Chair Photography Studio, made up of three members of the Reed family.  As historic interpreters Betsy and her employees/parents Sam and Mary Lou (Maire) make the rounds of Civil War 150th events, 19th Century historic homes and sites, timelines, college photography classes, as well as national and state park sites, demonstrating and first-person interpreting the lives of Civil War era field tintypists/ambrotypists.. The family has a modest studio at the family home from which they occasionally conduct wet plate workshops.  As Mary Lou explains:

I love being part of the trio at The Vacant Chair Photography, melding history, science and art to bring the wet plate collodion process and its history alive for the public.”

To find out more about Mary Lou’s work, pull up a seat and check out The Vacant Chair Photography’s website.

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