Alvord Desert Ambrotype Project

A mission of nearly impossible, using a 100 year old lens and a 170 year old photographic technique to capture a speeding motorcycle in the Alvord Desert.

photo: bruce couch

photo: bruce couch

When most people think of the ambrotype process they think of stern portraits of people frozen and solemn. In part this has been necessitated by the extremely slow speed of the emulsion and the size of the equipment needed. We’d like to push the envelope of what this ancient process is capable of to the absolute limits. Capturing a moving Harley Davidson as it flies across the vast expanse of the Alvord Desert.

The process of preparing the equipment, traveling to the desert, outfitting the van with the massive Ambrotype camera and the required strobe lighting will be documented in a short film. This film will culminate in the creation of a first-of-its-kind moving ambrotype image of Chelsea aboard her Harley Davidson.

All good ideas start with a really bad napkin sketch.

All good ideas start with a really bad napkin sketch.



Giles Clement - The Photographer

Portrait photographer Giles Clement has spent the better part of a decade working with the ambrotype process, learning it’s quirks, and always stretching the possibilities of what the medium is capable of. He was the first to take an ambrotype from a drone and the first to capture an ambrotype underwater.

His camera is one of his own design and construction, a 48 inch long intricate sculpture of carbon fiber and aluminum. Fitted to this is a German made Goerz Dogmar lens, originally used on World War 1 zeppelins to spy on allied troop movements.

Ambrotype images are taken with a silver nitrate emulsion on 16x20” sheets of clear glass. They are developed on site in a visually stunning process which harkens back to the very beginning of the photographic arts.

Clement has worked with Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Red Bull Mediahouse among many others.


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Chelsea Vittorio - The Adventurer

Chelsea Vittorio is a Portland based adventure enthusiast who splits her time between hiking peaks, riding the amazing Northwest back roads and designing her dream bike. Her current ride is a 1200cc Hardtail which she custom built to suit her. It’s this bike we’d like to capture, flying across the Alvord Desert.


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James Barkman - The Documentarian

James Barkman has carved out a niche for himself in adventure documentary photography and videography by living the life of his subjects. He just returned home from a months long motorcycle trip from Alaska to Patagonia. His love of bikes and ability to capture those who share his adventurous spirit make him and his crew the perfect partner to document this project.


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Assets Used

  • Harley Davidson Motorcycles

  • Profoto Lighting

  • Gopro Cameras

  • DJI Drones

  • Canon Cameras

  • Bridgestone Tires

  • Schott Leathers

  • Redwing Boots

  • Tom Ford Sunglasses

  • Sunoco Gasoline

  • Levis Jeans

  • Tito’s Vodka

Reach & Impact

Everyone involved in the project has a strong social media following and have continually produced work which has a global reach. Together with a participating brand this reach could easily be amplified and directed towards target audiences.

Project Timeline

  • Shooting the week of May 11th.

  • Social media available day of.

  • Video Edited and available 30days post.

  • Ambrotype Originals available 1 week post.

Thanks and we look forward to taking on this adventure with you!