Vintage camera captures farmers in their element

Work of Island farmers highlighted in upcoming book Of Land and Sea: Portraits of Coastal Food Producers

Vintage camera photographer Ken Miner took photos of Wilhelmina Bouwsema-Raap tending to her bees at her Royal Oak farm. Bouwsema-Rapp is one of 20 subjects in the project that uses a 1902 camera to document food producers on the Island.

Vintage camera photographer Ken Miner took photos of Wilhelmina Bouwsema-Raap tending to her bees at her Royal Oak farm. Bouwsema-Rapp is one of 20 subjects in the project that uses a 1902 camera to document food producers on the Island.

The curious stack of wooden planks under the back left tire of Ken Miner’s van is telling.

The van is carefully parked on the steep slope of Wilhelmina Bouwsema-Raap’s Royal Oak driveway. Miner opens the back door to reveal a mobile darkroom complete with bottles of gun cotton and silver nitrate solutions, age-old chemicals used to prepare and process photographic film for a century-old camera.

Miner needs his darkroom balanced so he can give the plate glass a silver nitrate bath.

Bouwsema-Raap, clad in white beekeeping overalls, is the 18th subject to be photographed by Miner for his project, an upcoming book by the Island Farmers’ Alliance called Of Land and Sea: Portraits of Coastal Food Producers.

Miner is using his 1902-era Century View camera for all the shots, having visited Cortes, Sointula and Salt Spring islands, Bamfield, Mill Bay, East Sooke and three farms in Duncan, so far.

“Meeting the people has been amazing,” said Miner, a Colwood resident who did some farming growing up outside of Winnipeg. “Everyone’s been so welcoming and shared their produce or product.”

A member of IFA saw some of Miner’s wet plate collodion photos, also of a farm, at a Sooke food security event last year. It inspired IFA to apply for (and receive) a New Horizons grant to create the project.

“The project itself isn’t a fundraiser, however, the book that is published will be used as a fundraiser for the Island Farmers’ Alliance,” said IFA member Vanessa Goodall.

Bouwsema-Raap was referred to Miner by a friend and agreed to be a subject without really knowing much about it. She’s had bees for 15 years and sells honey from her driveway on West Saanich Road.

“I knew it was for a photo but I didn’t know it was going to be this kind of camera,” she said.

Miner originally started by doing black-and-white darkroom work in 1994 with a contemporary camera of the day. He became disillusioned with photography and to this day he rarely touches his digital camera. But with the vintage camera process, he’s found a way to do it regularly.

Inside the van, Miner is prepping an eight-by-10-inch glass plate with gun cotton, or nitrocellulose, a mixture once used in rifles (and also to dress the wounds of the same soldiers who employed said rifles).

When he appears from the darkroom, the plate is ready. Miner follows Bouwsema-Raap, clad in white overalls, along a path to where his 1902 Century View camera is stationed beside her beehives. Bouwsema-Raap takes her position among the hives and Miner affixes the glass plate and disappears under a hood.

“It’s a tricky operation but the process is fairly simple,” says Miner, who wears surgeon quality gloves while handling the plates. “Once you do it a few times you get the hang of it.”

After 40 minutes Miner has his first photo. It’s overexposed, so they do it again.

Bouwsema-Raap holds still, this time for six seconds instead of 15.

“There’s no meters, you take a photo and then you do it again.”

After an hour and 15 minutes the second photo plate is bathed and Miner is content.

Of Land and Sea will be available in 2016.

 

Just Posted

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

Proposed design for the Topaz Park bike and skate park elements. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria requesting feedback on Topaz Park redesign

Public input now being taken for proposed skate, bike park ideas

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Most Read