On a small beach beneath the Swan River’s Stirling Bridge on a Sunday afternoon a couple are working with a vintage camera, a portable darkroom and a row of developing trays that bring to mind ‘everything including the kitchen sink’.

Photographer Kristian Roosmalen and stained glass artist Hannah Maling are producing images for a project which integrates their artforms.

“It was a natural progression to begin combining these passions,” Hannah said. 

“As far as the photography aspect of this project goes, it is very much Kris’s domain. 

“When we start getting into the combination of his [photo] plates with stained glass and traditional painting on glass I come to the party.”

The 1930s full plate camera Kristian is using is well-travelled; made in Paris and bought from Barcelona. With this camera he uses a Berthiot Eurygraphe 180mm F4 lens.

Kristian has also restored a 1904 Eastman Kodak full plate camera, with which he uses a 380mm Bausch and Lomb lens.

Unable to find a mentor in the early photographic technique, he taught himself the wet plate collodion process through research, trial and error.

“This project is largely experimental in essence and still in its infancy,” Hannah said.

“It seems natural to us both that there should be crossover between the traditional wet plate glass photography and stained glass and we were very surprised … this has not been explored yet. 

“We are still working out the ways in which both practises can meet and compliment one another. 

“We are looking forward to seeing how it develops over the coming year as we begin having more time to dedicate to the process and as we become more familiar with the intricacies of the cameras.”

Kristian’s background is in film (Set Fire to the Stars) and television (His Dark Materials; Dr Who; Death in Paradise).

Cardiff’s University of South Wales Film Studies prepared him for a decade of working in the camera department.

Since moving to Australia he says he is “enjoying a brief hiatus to explore [my] love of photography”.

Kristian also assists Hannah in her residency at Fremantle Arts Centre.

Hannah has been made a Fellow of the International Specialised Skills Institute of Australia, which includes a four-week visit to Los Angeles later this year. Her studies will be centred at Judson Studios, the USA’s oldest stained glass atelier.

The couple met in Wales last year while Hannah was the International Artist in Residence at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Married within six months of meeting they moved to Australia less than a year later.

While they’re working together, they don’t share all the parts of the photographic process. Hannah chats with curious passersby when Kristian is operating the old wooden camera. Kristian asked Hannah if she wanted to learn how to use the camera and make photographs but she declined.

“I can agitate the trays and if he’s head down in the portable darkroom I can make sure nobody takes the gear,” she laughed.

Depicting the concrete underside of the bridge, the finished plates – known as ambrotypes – appear otherworldly in their linking of old technique with contemporary subject.

Instagram: Kristian @seeyouplater; Hannah @badassstainedglass

Footnote: The wet collodion process was used by Crimean War photographer Roger Fenton in the mid 19th Century. In the 21st Century conflict in that region, journalists are using digital cameras with instantaneous results.

Story © Danielle Berryman 2022

Photographs © Roger Garwood 2022; Bridge photograph © Kristian Roosmalen 2022

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