Life on the Battlefield

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They’re the first tintypes created in a  combat zone since the Civil War.

Seeking to capture the humanity of his peers  fighting in the Afghanistan war, California Air National Guard aerial gunner  Ed Drew asked  them to sit for photos on the battlefield.

While the process was painstaking and  laborious – when duty called, the Brooklyn-based photographer dropped his camera  and jumped into a helicopter – the images were gripping.

Drew was on active duty in the Helmand  Province as a helicopter aerial gunner with a U.S. Air Force Combat Rescue  Unit.

‘To do this process in a war, let alone a  foreign war, is  historically significant,’ Drew told the New Yorker.

‘The process of wet-plate tintypes is  challenging enough with perfect conditions and the availability of  chemicals.  In a foreign war, with the stresses of combat, lack of basic  materials, drying  desert air, and the wind and dust of Afghanistan, it  was quite a  challenge.’

The spectacular images can be viewed at his  website Ed Drew Photography. 

Drew's images are the first combat zone tintype photos created since the Civil WarDrew’s images are the first combat zone tintype photos  created since the Civil War

 

Drew said it was tough convincing his peers to sit through the tedious photo shoot Drew said it was tough convincing his peers to sit  through the tedious photo shoot

 

Drew was staff sergeant in the California Air National Guard and deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as a helicopter aerial gunner with a U.S. Air Force Combat Rescue Unit when he captured these images Drew was staff sergeant in the California Air National  Guard and deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as a helicopter aerial  gunner with a U.S. Air Force Combat Rescue Unit when he captured these images

 

Drew said taking tintype pictures in a war zone was 'historically significant' Drew said taking tintype pictures in a war zone was  ‘historically significant’According to fstoppers.com,  tintype ‘is a slow, laborious wet plate process that is difficult to master and  work with in warm temperatures’.Introduced in the mid-nineteenth century,  this artistic process was used to document the Civil War.It involves hand-pouring a collodion mixture  onto a metal plate, which is then made light sensitive in a darkroom via a  silver nitrate solution.

The plate, encased in a light-tight film  holder, is exposed to light in camera and then must be processed within ten  minutes of exposure.

For Drew, the unique artistic process helped  him work through his own involvement in the war.

‘As a photographer and artist I wanted to  achieve something that was physical, one of a kind and very unique,’ he told  PetaPixel.

‘I believe in the Japanese aesthetic of  ‘Wabi-Sabi’ so the idea that something is imperfect and impermanent interests  me.

‘I wanted that to translate in my Afghan  images as metaphors for what I  experienced in the war, I thought tintypes to be  the perfect  photographic process to translate Wabi Sabi in my  portraits.’

 

The stresses of combat, lack of basic materials, drying desert air, and the wind and dust of Afghanistan challenged Drew's artistic ability The stresses of combat, lack of basic materials, drying  desert air, and the wind and dust of Afghanistan challenged Drew’s artistic  ability

 

While Drew's peers were initially reluctant to sit for him, they went back for more after seeing the incredible results While Drew’s peers were initially reluctant to sit for  him, they went back for more after seeing the incredible results

 

Drew photographed his fellow soldiers in the front of the Air Force rescue helicopters they flew Drew photographed his fellow soldiers in the front of  the Air Force rescue helicopters they flew

 

Drew chose tintype photography because he 'wanted to do a process that was historical, but also made me take my time and work slowly to focus on my subject.'Drew chose tintype photography because he ‘wanted to do  a process that was historical, but also made me take my time and work slowly to  focus on my subject.’But convincing his peers to sit for a formal  portrait was tough, with many frustrated with the painstaking process.’Initially, I really had to convince them to  do it,’ Drew told fstoppers.com.’I work with these guys, but they know me as  a gunner.

‘After they started seeing how amazing the  plates looked, they began booking appointments.

‘One of the guys I flew with is the great  great grandson of Buffalo Bill so  he asked for a photo just like his  grandfather. It was one of my best  plates.’

 

 

Drew's photographic goal was to 'show the humanity of war in the eyes of airmen I fly combat missions with.'Drew’s photographic goal was to ‘show the humanity of  war in the eyes of airmen I fly combat missions with.’

 

Not since Matthew Brady¿s work documenting the Civil War has the tintype photographic process been used on the battlefieldNot since Matthew Brady¿s work documenting the Civil War  has the tintype photographic process been used on the battlefield

 

Drew gave everyone who sat for him a high resolution scan and a print to thank them for participating Drew gave everyone who sat for him a high resolution  scan and a print to thank them for participating

 

Taking photos during an active mission meant Drew often had to 'drop everything' and jump in a helicopter Taking photos during an active mission meant Drew often  had to ‘drop everything’ and jump in a helicopter

 

Drew's Afghan images were 'metaphors' for what he experienced in the warDrew’s Afghan images were ‘metaphors’ for what he  experienced in the war

 

Drew said switching 'thought process, from creative to tactical' was difficult, as he had to make sure he maintained his 'situational awareness'Drew said switching ‘thought process, from creative to  tactical’ was difficult, as he had to make sure he maintained his ‘situational  awareness’

 

For Drew, the photos helped him to document his 'life in the aftermath of my deployment' For Drew, the photos helped him to document his ‘life in  the aftermath of my deployment’

Attribution: Mail Online

About the Common Constitutionalist

Brent, aka The Common Constitutionalist, is a Constitutional Conservative, and advocates for first principles, founders original intent and enemy of progressives. He is former Navy, Martial Arts expert. As well as publisher of the Common Constitutionalist blog, he also is a contributing writer for Political Outcast, Godfather Politics, Minute Men News (Liberty Alliance), Freedom Outpost, the Daily Caller, Vision To America and Free Republic. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for World Net Daily (WND).