Marriage of Miss Jessica Vinson and Captain Robert Partain

We had the pleasure on Saturday of visiting a re-enactment of an 1850’s-era wedding. The wedding was between Miss Jessica Vinson, daughter of a farmer, and Captain Robert Partain, who commands a riverboat.

The event was an all day affair, starting at 10am with the preparations all the way through 4pm with the send off of the couple. All was done in period dress and was meant to educate the public on the lifestyles and technology of the period. Incredibly well done.

Although the entire event was quite interesting, one man grasped my attention. He was a photographer, practicing the art of collodion (wet plate) photography, which was state of the art in the 1850’s. Even now, the details and tonality that he was able to achieve on tin plate and glass rivals what we can do on computer. In many instances, surpasses what we can do.

Some samples:

Wet Plate Stop Bath

Wet Plate Amber

Wet Plate

Wet Plate Apothecary

In the bottom photo, the subject of the photo was a lovely young lady who had no problem bouncing in and out of character to answer our questions as well as discuss events, whether they be current or current in 1850. The photographer ended up taking two pictures of her. This was the first, which she wasn’t pleased with since there was so much grass at the bottom of the image. The second, which she liked more, was technically inferior in our eyes. He offered to let her choose, but I never did hear which one she picked.

Even more amazing, the photographer was charging only $40 for the image that the subject took home. Even if it meant five sittings to get it right. And let me assure you, five sittings would be quite arduous for the subject.

After the wedding, we drove up the road, watched the sun set and were serenaded by elk bugling in the forest. Perfect.

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6 thoughts on “Marriage of Miss Jessica Vinson and Captain Robert Partain”

  1. Marc –

    We did not dress in. Besides, I would have looked quite out of place with my oversized camera backpack and lugging around my 20D.

    We did not pose for any of these photos, since we were in regular street clothes.

  2. I’ve heard of the re-enactment of military conflicts in the US and in other countries, but not of such pastoral events. this sounds wonderful, and i wish i would have had the opportunity to see it. however, i think you focused on the most spectacular aspect there, and am grateful to you for the documentary. I have such cameras myself, and in the past, used to do such demonstrations. One of the most interesting is to photograph using photographic paper as a negative.

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