A NORTH-EAST photographer has used unconventional techniques to capture images of RNLI volunteers at Staithes and Runswick, Whitby, Scarborough and Filey.

Lifeboat stations, crews and coxswains and have been immortalised on glass as part of an ambitious five-year venture by Jack Lowe, who lives in Newcastle.

The Lifeboat Station Project involves visiting all 238 RNLI bases in the UK and Republic of Ireland. He uses a Victorian process known as the wet plate Collodion technique by which images are recorded on glass.

Mr Lowe – grandson of Dad’s Army actor Arthur Lowe – travels in Neena, a decommissioned NHS ambulance which he bought on e-Bay and converted into a mobile darkroom.

The project, which began in January 2015, will be the first complete photographic record of every lifeboat station on the RNLI network. He has visited more than 80 and looks set to reach the half-way point in 2018.

Mr Lowe said: "My dad is an experienced seafarer and introduced me to the wonders of lifeboats – these incredible, powerful pieces of kit designed for heroic, lifesaving missions on stormy seas.

“From an early age, I loved photography and lifeboats. Now I’m following my heart and uniting the two passions.

"I’m using a photographic technique developed in the 1850s, around the time that the RNLI was incorporated under Royal Charter. The photographs are made directly on to glass plates known as ‘ambrotypes’.”

When he visits a lifeboat station, Mr Lowe makes the portraits using a camera made in 1905, and then develops the images in his mobile darkroom.

Volunteer lifeboat crew members are able to step into the ambulance and watch as their portraits appear on the glass plates – an experience he says they find fascinating, and sometimes very moving.

He added: “There’s a small global community of people interested in using these old techniques.

"Everyone works in their own way – and you’re always learning as you go along. The chemicals are the original formulae from the 1800s.

"I have a box made for each station that holds ten sheets of 12x10 inch glass. Then when I get them back to Newcastle I scan them, varnish them and then place them into storage.”

Follow Mr Lowe’s RNLI photographic mission online at lifeboatstationproject.com.