See the incredible Victorian-style images that take HOURS to produce

Instagram of the Victorian age: Photographer uses 1890 ‘bellow’ camera to take incredible images that take HOURS to produce after becoming ‘fed-up’ with social media snaps that are uploaded in seconds

  • Simon Williams uses a 150 year old camera to capture every day images 
  • The 62-year-old takes photos near his home in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
  • His bellow camera spends hours developing photos of places and objects 
  • The former science teacher converted his camper van into a mobile dark room

A photographer uses a ‘bellow’ camera from 1890 to create a Victorian-era Instagram – with each photo taking fifty processes and hours to take.

Simon Williams, 62, started using the 130-year-old device after getting ‘fed up’ with the ‘technological race’ for more pixels and sharper images.

He takes photos of landmarks, places and objects near his home in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

The images he creates make windmills, bridges and piers look like they are still in the Victorian era.

Mr Williams, a former science teacher, can spend hours creating one of his images while most people spend seconds. 

Simon Williams, 62, takes hours creating his image like his Vandyke Brown Print of Chapel Allerton Windmill in Somerset 

He uses chemicals to create vintage photography on glass plates.

Strict time constraints by using this method led him to convert the back of his camper van into a mobile dark room.

Mr Williams said: ‘I love to make images that have story, mystery – where not everything is pixel-perfectly-clear.

‘I like to make photographs that are true to life – not the synthetic – hyper-real falseness of advertising and over-processed-Instagram images.

‘The cameras I use are called large format field cameras, part of a family of cameras categorised as bellows cameras.

‘My largest camera is the New Countess – a 10’x8’, bellows field camera made of mahogany and, unusually, aluminum, circa 1890.

‘I can spend three hours making four images, one of which is useable.

‘The process of making an image from a film negative to a cyanotype print from start to finish involves around 50 separate operations.

‘Each glass plate is thoroughly cleaned, edged with egg white, has collodion (cellulose, ether, alcohol cadmium bromide) poured on it.

‘When this gets sticky it is put into silver nitrate (liquid that burns off warts!). Whist still wet this is put in the camera and exposed.

‘This plate has developer – acidic, alcoholic, iron solution – poured over it and is then washed in water before being put into ‘fixer’- thiosulfate – when the picture appears fully.

Simon Williams photo of the Weston-Super-Mare pier that was built in 1904

The images he creates make everyday things look like they are still in the Victorian era, which is when the Clifton Suspension Bridge opened in 1864

Simon Williams uses a 130-year-old device after getting ‘fed up’ with the ‘technological race’. This photo shows the Prince of Wales Bridge

Simon Williams thinks his photos like this one of Clevedon sea front shows life ‘more honestly’ as they are not perfect 

‘When dry the silver side is sprayed with black acrylic paint showing the image as a positive image.

‘So many ways this can go awry – but that is the challenge.

‘As its name suggests the photographic plate is wet – and has to remain wet..’

He added: ‘I like to use old film and glass plates as they bring imperfections into the image.

‘That can communicate more honestly that life isn’t perfect but it can still be beautiful, interesting and have a good story to tell.’

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