Making a photographic plate by hand

Discussion in 'Silver Gelatin Based Emulsion Making & Coating' started by Photo Engineer, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    As I have stated elsewhere, I am not an expert in pouring plates by hand, but my friend, Mark Osterman is and he has made a set of slides to demonstrate this 'teapot' method. This method has been used for over 100 years in one sort or another by artisans who wish to make plates.

    My thanks for this to:

    Mark Osterman
    Process Historian
    Advanced Residency Program in Photograph Conservation
    George Eastman House
    International Museum of Photography
    Rochester, NY

    He took time out of his busy schedule including preparations for a trip to Europe to get these photos to me in answer to the many questions here on APUG on the methodology of making plates.

    My thanks to Mark. I owe him.

    PE
     

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  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Looks easy . . . . . . in daylight.

    Try doing it in the dark :smile:

    Very interesting, thanks Ron, I bet he make a good cup of tea too !

    Ian
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks, that's very handy! I think we have a ceramic vessel that looks very much like that designed for nasal irrigation that someone gave us, evidently thinking we would benefit from this natural health practice. This looks like a much better use for it.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    There were more pictures to post, but you are limited to 3 uploads so...

    Mark has asked me to add this:

    1. This method should not be confused with the wet collodion method. You might do that by not seeing the missing photos. I'll post them in a subsequent set. They show noodle washing, chilling the plate and etc.

    2. The hand technique as illustrated was used not only by amateurs for coating gelatin emulsions, but also in dry plate factories until the availability of coating machines. An 1884 account of the operation at the Cramer Dry Plate Works in St. Louis was described as "eight busy men, with pitchers of emulsion on one side, a pile of glass on the other and in front of them, a peculiar leveling stand." *

    * Philadelphia Photographer, Jan 1884, p 11


    PE
     
  5. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    In addition:

    Historic examples of hand coated gelatin dry plates often show the small drips of emulsion that rolled to the back of the plate as it was tilted to pour off the excess from one end.... and then the other...as shown in the demonstration. These small drips often stuck the back of the plate to the chilling table making the plate difficult to remove. Sliding the plate from the table resulted in another visual artifact that can be used as an identifier.

    These particular scenes will also be shown in the next picture set that I upload.

    PE
     
  6. dmr

    dmr Member

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    We are indeed spoiled with today's pre-coated film, let alone the color products! I can see how the craftspeople in the 19th century thought of pre-made dry plates and roll film as the end of the craft, not unlike some of us who see {d-word} that way.
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ian, Mark drinks coffee. His teapot is in use.

    For those who want to see more, Google "Dr. Bumstead" and Lenape. You will see Mark in all of his glory.

    :D

    Now I really owe Mark for doing this to him.

    PE
     
  8. ben-s

    ben-s Member

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    Thanks PE & Mark, another interesting and useful chunk of info.
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Additional photos

    These photos distinguish plate coating of an emulsion as opposed to other methods.

    It also shows the artifacts that Mark has mentioned in the information sent to me and posted above.

    The photos are out of sequence from the way they should be viewed, but the numbers in the file names will denoote the correct sequence.

    My apologies for this, and thanks to Sean for explaining how to do more than 3 at one time.

    PE
     

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  10. z-man

    z-man Member

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    no ether either

    the ether for colliodon allways knocks me out

    the tea pot i allready got-that side handle style-buy in any china/korea/japan town

    but you know that it looks like a hot instant vanailla pudding mix that is too thin-since the instant pudding is mostly gelatine that might be a way to learn this

    what about the "PECULIAR" levaling stand tho?

    ron-those are lovely photo's-you have out done yourself agin

    looks like a giant garlic press for the noodle canoodling-thinkng that since this really was a kitchen process the equipment can be found in chefs supply

    a piece of bakers marble might do fo the chilling table since that is its function in pastry making

    ron you did gooder than ever

    vaya con dios
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That looks like a potato ricer being used for the noodling.
     
  12. Hologram

    Hologram Member

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    Here's more or less the same method:
    http://www.holowiki.com/HoloWiki/images/coatmeth.wmv

    More on glass coating can be found here:
    http://www.holographyforum.org/HoloWiki/index.php/Coating_Methods
     
  13. z-man

    z-man Member

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    LINKS!!!

    i hope every body takes a look at the coating methods shown at the holo forum

    i pulled a meyer bar by hand every day for a few yrs-the machines are an eye opener

    the various hand pouring methods and the use of tapes to control flows are most interesting as is the moulding method

    of course the emulsion for holos must be strictly controled and we here don't have those concerns-or maybe we should

    thank you hologram

    vaya con dios
     
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  15. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Oh yes, excellent! Thanks for posting these.

    I was walking through a department store looking for emulsion making equipment earlier this week. It is amazing what you can find. I got a pair of stainless steel emulsion kettles really cheap (ok, they had 'coffee' and 'sugar' on the side for some strange reason...)

    I also saw a device for making mashed potato and wondered if it would be a good emulsion noodle making device - and there it is in the photos, the very same item, with Mark squeezing his noodles :smile:

    Steve
     
  16. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I have one of those too. I use it for its original purpose. Try it - it's great!

    Steve.
     
  17. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    This reminds me of the way I used to coat copper clad board for PCB manufacturing with photosensitive etch resist.

    We had a machine which held the piece of board vertically and lowered it into a container of solution by means of a motor and a threaded rod. Once fully submerged, the motor was reversed and the board was slowly pulled out of the solution. It probably took about three minutes for a board similar to the size of plate shown here.

    The result was a very thin even coating. I think this system would also work to coat glass plates. The disadvantage is that both sides of the plate would be coated but you could either clean it off afterwards or use a peelable release film on one side and peel it off after coating.


    Steve.
     
  18. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    I like this, photographic forensics!

    I've just bought a pack of vintage glass plates on eBay. They were made by the Brittania works, later to become Ilford limited, so must be from the 1890s.

    I bought them for historical interest only, the unused plates have been exposed to light years ago and are of no value, well so I thought so until now. Maybe they hold some secrets about 1890s production techniques!

    After close inspection I can see that there is overspill along one edge, but the other edges are clean. Also there are streaks on the back - and an emulsion finger print!
    I conclude, Watson, that the plates were hand coated as a whole plate and some of the emulsion must have run across the back during coating and stuck to the rear of the plate, where the maker dabbed his finger in it . The plates were later cut into quarter plate sizes with a glass cutter, leaving three clean edges and one covered in emulsion run off.

    I've tried a few photos, although they are not easy to photograph, being very reflective. The first pic is the back of the plate. To the left of the vertical streak is the fingerprint, but on the actual plate these marks appear silvery, rather than brown. The other two pics show the edges, mucky edge on the left, clean on the right. Note the chips where the glass has been cut. These chips do not contain emulsion, except on the 'mucky' edge.

    These plates must have been very silver rich. It looks like the silver salts have reverted back to the metal: is this possible? They are very shiny in places.

    Steve
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2007
  19. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Answering a few questions here:

    1. Yes it is a potato ricer. I thought I had mentioned that. Sorry. At Kodak we used heavy duty versions.

    2. The posted URL shows the coating of a solvent. Silver halide in gelatin cannot be coated so triivally I assure you. It is much more viscouse. Also it takes several hours to dry. You should not use a hair dryer! It will blow the wet gelatin around and create puddles.

    3. In hand coating emulsion does run across the back. This is seen if you look at the posted photos carefully. This is how you know you have an authentic hand made plate. The defects like that prove it.

    4. Mark is a world reknown authority on this method! Do not confuse it with wet or dry plate collodion which are totally different. Mark does those too.

    PE
     
  20. Photo Engineer

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    Resultant negative and print

    Mark sent me the scans of the negative and print from the plates he coated. Here are the two samples. On the left is the negative and the right is the print. Note the coating defect in the corner due to being hand made.

    PE
     

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  21. Martin Reed

    Martin Reed Advertiser Advertiser

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    I drove myself nuts trying to coat plates when we were putting the 'Silver Gelatin' book together. The best results I had with pouring on were when I preheated the glass, enabling the emulsion to stay hot & hence very mobile. A bit of dilution might also help, but you don't want to sacrifice density.

    Apart from that I got very good results by totally immersing the glass in a bath of emulsion, then lifting & draining to one corner. The backs of the plates were protected with adhesive film that was subsequently peeled away.

    NB, Aurum, the publishers have told me they are printing another 1000 copies of the book (no updated version though). Apologies for commercial break.
     
  22. z-man

    z-man Member

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    let there be light

    martin-thanx for all your past published info-goldmines for all

    masking the back and dipping works and is fast - know-but being a frugal type i was not happy with the wastage

    i was going to put two plates together and dip and separate when set-if glass is flat enuf and you moisten surfaces a little they will stick together by air presure-no need to seal edges

    problem is glass sources-regular float glass for windows not flat enuf even in 1/16"

    picture frame glass is ok if you get good quality, and when i get some -i want the textured non glare so i can coat on that surface-i feel it will get rid of frilling and will also add a type of halftoneing to printed image that will help whole process-i will will try double dipping first before i go to bar pulling-i allready know how to do that

    some brit holo crews salvage old glass plate negs for glass only-soak in household bleach to strip old emulsion-easy

    this a is an oppourtunity to share experience with holo crew and other prcesses that maybe not seem to be pertinant but the processes and xperience could add options:

    get pastry marble or granite tile and freez and use as chilling table

    THANK YOU PE AND FRIEND MARK FOR PUTTING US ON STRAIGHT COURSE

    vaya con dios
     
  23. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    I think there are photos of such a device, mounted on a post, in Baker. Here, I thought they were custom manufactured devices.

    For my money, this is the most interesting forum going here right now. Thanks to all who have contributed!!

    Ed
     
  24. paxette

    paxette Member

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    I'm just starting to learn how to coat dry plates so I'm curious and a tad confused, what the difference between the two methods? How the plate is held or, is there more to it?
     
  25. rmazzullo

    rmazzullo Member

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    Hello Martin...

    I am having one HELL of a time trying to get a copy of your book on the used market. Can you please post ordering details as soon as the new printing becomes available?

    Thank you,

    Bob M.
     
  26. rmazzullo

    rmazzullo Member

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    PE,

    What formula did he use for the emulsion? Do you have any details on this or is the information posted anywhere?

    Thanks,

    Bob M.