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With the United States as the host country for this year’s UCI World Cyclocross Championships, Shimano wanted to do something special for its sponsored American athletes. Shimano looked to one of its favorite photographers, Kevin Fickling, for inspiration. Fickling took a page out of the history of photography and created stunning images for nine U.S. athletes. Here he explains the background and the process:


“The wet plate collodion process used to create the images here is one of the oldest forms of photography.  It was originally developed around 1851 and remains almost the same today, other than a few changes in chemicals for safety reasons.  Before film was developed as a medium, photographers needed a surface for holding the photographic chemistry and used glass or metal plates hence the "Tin Type" name.  Here we are using aluminum with a black coating applied.  Nothing is premade in the process and every image is unique and one of a kind.  The collodion is poured carefully onto the surface of the plate creating a gel layer that will allow real silver particles to attach themselves to the plate.  It goes into my "darkroom" and gets dunked in a silver nitrate bath for three minutes before going into a light-sealed holder.  Then it's transferred into my 1950's Speedgraphic camera and the photo is made.  The lens used is also unique and comes out of a 1944 US military reconnaissance plane.  The lens actually has Thorium radioactive glass inside!  As soon as the image is made in the camera it's back into the darkroom where the final developing and fixing process happens.  All of this needs to happen in seven to 10 minutes while the plate is still wet hence the "wet plate" name.  Once all the steps are completed you are left with a unique image on metal.   I like to refer to this process with a Japanese saying called "wabi-sabi."  It simply means to embrace the aesthetic>imperfections in a process and I think it fits perfectly. Each athlete will receive their image on the metal plate as a keepsake from their Worlds attendance.”


behind the scene taking a tin type picture

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