Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Series of wet-plate tintypes depicting iconic visions of the American Southwest, developed on location in a portable darkroom.
9 backers pledged $1,100 to help bring this project to life.
Last updated

About

Desert Reality project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

$1,100

9

Introduction:

Hi everyone! My name is Kieran Lavelle. I'm a photographer working primarily in the old-timey art of tintypes. After seeing what kind of striking imagery this supposedly primitive process can achieve, I did some research and realized... I could do that too! 

I invested in a large format camera and some chemicals and I was hooked. So here I am almost three years later on Kickstarter! 

That's me!
That's me!

The Project:

I've always loved the desert. The landscape is ancient and grand and inhospitable, and yet there is the urge to wander into it and disappear among the rocks, hoping to find an oasis against the world. 

This feeling is what I hope to document with a series of tintype photographs depicting iconic visions of the Deserts of the Southwest. I've chosen three locations that exemplify these themes and I will be making several one-of-a-kind tintype exposures for all who are interested in the project. 

I will be making and sending out to backers unique, one-of-a-kind images of these amazing places. Each one will be hand-made especially for you! I have to go through the full complete process for each tintype, so each one will be taken at a different time, under different conditions and will be wholly unique. 

The Sites:

  • The Grand Canyon demonstrates the effects time on the ancient landscape. 
  • Monument Valley epitomizes the immensity of space deserts impart. 
  • Mojave Desert exemplifies the harshness and severity of which deserts are capable.  

The Medium:

The tintype process has been around for over a hundred and fifty years. In summary, there are three stages in the life of a tintype photograph: Sensitizing, exposure and development. During the first stage, we pour a syrupy concoction onto a metal plate, dipping it in a solution to activate the light-sensitive chemicals. Now the plate is ready to be exposed! After preparing the scene in the camera, we 'take the picture'. After the image has been imparted to the plate, we can reveal it through development! A tintype is born.

I've chosen tintype/wet-plate photography as the medium because of its high detail and sharpness, rich tone and holographic quality the crystalline silver suspended in cellulose nitrate imparts on the image. But more importantly, I've chosen it because each photograph is unique. These are one-off exposures that capture a single moment in time, each one slightly different. This honors the singular nature of our own individual experience and result in an heirloom-quality piece of fine art.

Expect imperfections with this medium. I will be pouring the light-sensitive emulsion, making the exposures and developing the plates ON LOCATION, using a portable darkroom of my own design. The elements will leave their mark on the plates in the form of beautiful specks or swirls. The extreme temperatures will affect the process as well. This is why I love the medium - mistakes only add to the appeal! 

One of the first experimental images I made in my portable darkroom. Skokomish River as seen from High Steel Bridge.
One of the first experimental images I made in my portable darkroom. Skokomish River as seen from High Steel Bridge.

The Budget:

I want to do this as cheaply as possible. I'll be camping and probably eating mac-and-cheese the whole way just so I can make it down there. I already have all the photo equipment, but I need plates, collodion (the light-sensitive stuff) and darkroom chemicals. I need about $900 minimum to get down there and take any photos at all, so I'm asking for $1000 to account for Kisckstarter's fees. 

$300 for Fuel,

$300 for Photo Supplies (and post cards!) for a few dozen tintypes,

$300 for Food.

Timeline:

I will be leaving in mid-September, photographing in the early morning, to capture the 'Golden Hour' light, making the images as stunning as possible. I will be Arriving back in the PNW by the end of September, I will frame and matte the tintypes and send them off, and you'll receive them by mid-October. 

I'll be updating everyone from the road via Kickstarter and a special Instagram so everyone can see my progress. 

I'm very grateful for those of you who want to give their support! Thank you very much!

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge is going to be getting to location. I'll be driving from Olympia, Washington down through the deserts of Eastern Oregon, California and Nevada and camping on the side of the road, but I'm confident I can handle anything that arises :)

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Pledge $10 and I'll send you a hand-written thank-you post card form the road!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A 5"x7" Digital Print of me on the road making tintypes, signed by the artist, with a customized thank-you note!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    2 backers
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    The Single:
    A one-of-a-kind 4x5" heirloom-quality tintype photograph of the location of your choice, exposed and developed on location, in a simple protective case.

    Choose from among The Grand Canyon, Monument Valley or Mojave Desert locations for your tintype.

    Also receive a post card from the trip with a personalized thank-you message!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 3 backers
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Pro-Single:
    A one-of-a-kind 4x5" heirloom-quality tintype photograph of the location of your choice, exposed and developed on location, but this one comes matted and framed and ready to hang on the wall!

    Choose from among The Grand Canyon, Monument Valley or Mojave Desert locations for your tintype.

    Also receive a post card from the trip with a personalized thank-you message!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 2 backers
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    The Double:
    Pick two locations from among The Grand Canyon, Monument Valley or Mojave Desert locations for your tintype.

    Receive two one-of-a-kind 4x5" heirloom-quality tintype photographs of the location of your choice, exposed and developed on location, in a simple protective case.

    Also receive a post card from the trip with a personalized thank-you message!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 0 backers
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $180 or more About $180

    The Triple:
    Receive the whole series: Receive 3 one-of-a-kind 4x5" heirloom-quality tintype photographs of the location of your choice, exposed and developed on location, in a simple protective case. Also receive a hand-written post card from the road expressing my gratitude.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 1 backer
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $325 or more About $325

    The Pro-Series:
    Receive the whole series of 3 one-of-a-kind 4x5" heirloom-quality tintype photographs, one from each of the three locations, professionally matted and framed.

    This of course includes the 5"x7" digital print of me on the road making tintypes, signed by the artist, with a customized thank-you note!

    Also receive a special hand-typed certificate of contribution to accompany the series signed by the artist, as well as the post card of thanks!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 1 backer
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)