Rockland Colloid - Should I bother?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by bvy, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    I've been reading extensively lately about wet and dry plate processes, and I'm eager to get my hands wet (or dry). For dry plate, the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit comes up a lot, almost exclusively. And while I think it might be the best introduction to these processes, I have some concerns.

    The developer is reputed to last only one or two weeks. I don't always work this fast, and would rather regroup after each exposure and see what went wrong and how to improve. Is it possible to split the developer into eight one-shot portions (I have several small 2oz. glass bottles with polyseal caps). The $35 kit comes with eight 4x5 plates and an unspecified amount of developer that should be used undiluted. Are there other ways to extend the working life of the developer (besides the obvious: glass containers, filled-to-capacity, etc.)?

    I'm more concerned about the results I'm likely to get. Most of the things people post from the kit are not very impressive -- dull, flat, and with poor contrast. The better ones have bright yellow highlights, but it's hard to know what people are doing in their workflows for web display. So I'm only excited about the kit insofar as I'll be learning the process -- and perhaps as a stepping stone to custom formulations or wet plate. Still, I'd like to get something at least halfway rewarding. Can someone comment on the best way to get good contrast from the supplied materials? I understand their formulations changed recently (past ten years) to exclude formalin which had a significant impact on the contrast.

    Thank you.
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi bvy

    have you seen the work of seth mccormick?
    he's at seth-mccormick.com...
    he and a handful of others have been making dry plate tintypes
    i have the links to a few others but not handy i will post them later ..

    the dry process is a bit finickey, but i like it better than the wet one ..
    you can mix the developer without diluting it, and keep parts 1-2 separate and add them as needed

    if you mox it as directed you will be diluting 1L to a gallon, and dektol oxidizes kind of fast..

    the images on metal look very different than those on glass ...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/guyjbrown/5869092394/in/photostream/
    he has good luck just adding something to his ilford developer,
    but i am guessing his tap water isnt only water and is mineralized ...

    you can use any emulsion you want with it. i mostly use vc and non ag+ ( both expired ) because it was what i had on hand. if you use non ag+ put more thin a thin coat on the plate you'll get better contrast, and if you use the vc emulsion you might use enlarging filters when you make your exposures seeing the emulsion is sensitive to them ...
    besides outside exposures, ive done darkroom work with the plates (glass)
    it was as easy as using paper ...

    have fun!
    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2014
  3. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Hi John. Thanks for the response. I think you mean Sean McCormick, and yes, I have seen his work, but thanks for pointing it out again. What I can't find is more information about his process. Some of the more impressive examples on his website are only described as "tintype," not even dry, though it sounds like he doesn't even practice wet plate.

    I had seen Guy Brown's work too, in passing, but the link describing his process is very helpful. So thanks for that too.

    As far as the Rockland developers, it sounds like the smaller kit has the developer premixed, and the larger one has it broken down into three component parts.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    oops!!
    sorry, yes sean, not seth lol. even after i was at his website :smile:
    yeah, he only does the dry plates. we've spoken a few times
    and he coates the plates and just shoots them
    using ag + and the rockland developer. he rates the
    emulsion just as roclkand colloid states in their instructions
    ( i think they say iso .5 ) but it is dependent on the quality of light
    seeing it is blue light only and depending on the time of day, time of year ...

    you are right about the developer, the small kit the developer is pre mixed...
    and if / when you buy refills, it is about 30$ a wack ... not bad once you get the hang
    of things, but its still not cheap ...

    definitely a process worth trying ..
    i mentioned i like it better than the wet process
    mainy because of the convenience factor,
    and i never really liked using collodion.
    by comparison this is like the difference between
    caffenol c and pmk pyro ... similar and different at the same time ..

    feel free to drop me a line if you have coating questions, im not an ace, but im not a novice eithet :smile:

    john
     
  5. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Am I reading this correctly? Sean is using the Rockland Colloid kit and getting those results? His stuff is miles ahead of any/all other examples I've seen from the kit (and I feel like I've seen them all now -- at least the ones on the web). I'm looking at these images of his specifically: http://sean-mccormick.com/#/tin-types/

    Sounds like you have a line in to him -- are you sure he's not modifying the chemistry or kit in some way?
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    yup, doesnt alter a thing ...
    there is someone whose name escapes me ..
    photographer in rochester also uses it "stock"
    beautiful still lives ...
    christopher schwer
    http://www.christopherschwer.com

    it seems that there are a lot of people using this finicky process these days.
    i'm glad it is getting a bit more good press, some wet platers have done a great job
    in disenfranchising the process and spreading bad publicity ...

    its actually a lot of fun ...

    good luck!
    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2014
  7. seanjmc

    seanjmc Member

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    Yo! It's Seth here, I mean Sean!

    Anyone feel free to hit me up if they want advice. But here are some key tips: Coat those plates thin, keep emulsion in the 100-115 degree F range, don't let it go higher..Heat in a double-boiler type of set up..You can't dry them in a box, got to have airflow. I made a big box with a fan system with light trap and shelves to dry mine in. Ideal is a darkroom with fan going, for many hours..humidity and muggy weather will mess up your drying game....IF they don't dry right in the first 6 hours it's not good...Turn off that safe light when you are leaving them to dry, safe light will fog them after a few hours....Do development for 3 minutes, constant agitation...if it clears before then, (after 2 mins), you can put in fixer...if you have stubborn white spots/blobs on the edges, fixer will clear those, but don't count on fixer to help clear the image in general - if after 3 mins image is still cloudy then it's toast, won't ever look good, will look cloudy/low contrast. Keep it thin when you coat. Don't have more than one beer while coating, but that's good to loosen you up!
     
  8. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Glad you could join us! I'm "between kits" at the moment. Looking forward to getting another soon, and trying again.

    Your works is great, Sean. What do you rate your plates for flash?
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey sean

    thanks for the tops, i mean tips :smile:
    hope all is good in your neck of the woods -
    john
     
  10. seanjmc

    seanjmc Member

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    Rate the plates at ISO 03 for strobes....

    ---Hi John!
     
  11. seanjmc

    seanjmc Member

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    Hey John! Like the blog post paper neg, glad you are on AG+!

    As an aside maybe for peeps to read and learn a little more from....I tried coating for reversal on black paper once as you suggested Mr. Rockland older dude said once we could try, but didn't size it first and it was comical, ended up like squid ink dried curly pasta so couldn't even expose it...recently thought about doing some on black Cinefoil, good for test strips instead of using the full metal plates....not so sure they will work as negs unfortunately...
     
  12. jnanian

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    hi sean

    i had the same problem with cardstock and paper coated with the emulsion. didn't work very well ...
    and to be honest i thought it was my poor-technique ( and extremely aged emulsion ) LOL ...
    these days i'm thinking of black and urethaned plexi ...
     
  13. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Must....give....this....a....try.

    Doing some form of tin plate photography has been on my photography bucket list for a while. What is the better introduction to tin types? Wet or dry? I read above that dry can be finicky, but is it prohibitive for a first timer?
     
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  15. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    It's not prohibitive and it's a good place start. Wet plate is messier, more expensive, some will say more dangerous, and the process is much more involved. I got good results from my first dry plate kit, and have been meaning to get back to it. The hardest part is coating the plates. If the kit comes with eight plates, have the expectation of coating four of them -- anything beyond that is gravy. It's easy to waste emulsion getting good coverage. The good thing is, plates that look like you've made a complete mess of, will be capable of good results. My experience anyway.
     
  16. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    OK, Curious.

    Interesting to read the comments from Sean (or is it Seth.... :wink: ) in relation to drying the plates. Unfortunately, I don't have a light lock in my darkroom, so drying them out in the open for extended periods will be troublesome. How are you drying them bvy?

    Also, are you using the plates in standard holders?

    Next time I do an order from Freestyle, I think I will get a kit. I just hope that they are still willing to ship to Australia.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi hoffy

    i dry mine in a darkroom overnight pitch black
    i also have a small paper safe i sometimes put the metal plates
    and glass plates in to dry, or believe it or not 8x10 or 11x14 paper box separated / not stacked.

    i like the dry plate kit, its finicky, sure, but you won't die by mistake if you don't wash your developer off the plate well enough
    before you stick it in your KCn, or get asphyxiated from ether fumes from the collodion. granted, there is a little hunter thompson in all of us
    i suppose, but the dry plate tintype kit, once you get the hang of it, is as easy. the bummer is the developer is a secret formula ... the liquid light
    group on flickr has a guy who posted his recipe ( he uses just ilford print developer and ammonium thiocyanate ... his water is alkalia ) and he gets masterful results.


    have fun !
    john

    ps if you get hooked, you can just buy the developer, and use other, less expensive emulsions, and get metal trophy aluminum and laquor it yourself and save some $$..
     
  18. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    I dry them in a large, deep (but open) box with enough floor area to contain all the plates. I leave this in my darkroom. I can exit the room (quickly) without fogging the plates. There must be a better way.

    You'll have to trim the edges to fit the plates into standard 4x5 holders. Even then, it will be tight. When I was doing it, I would actually tape the plate on top of the holder and load/unload the camera in the darkroom. I'd have to remember to extend the bellows by some fraction of an inch after focusing (to compensate for the plate being, essentially, on top of the holder). Again there must be a better way. I did still get some nice things though.
     

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  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    that's beautiful bvy !


    in addition to the drying as i do, i have a pizza stone i keep in the freezer ( any cold retaining surface will do, stone, concrete, metal )
    and i use that after the emulsion is coated on whatever i coat it on. in the past i haven't used the AG+ emulsion, just outdated old school
    liquid light VC or liquid light ( a friend sent me some of their expired stuff (thanks ! ) and i had some 15 year old never used stuff lying around )
    when i talked to bob ( the founder of rockland ) he told me to double coat my plates because AG+ has more silver in it and it will work better
    with other emulsions with less silver so ... double coat ...
    as a result, i would double coat everything ... getting back to my coating sequence ...

    liquid runny emulsion free pour on warm plates ( metal or glass )
    let it run off of a corner back into a container
    then ONTO a cold surface.
    the cold surface will chill the gelatin in the emulsion make it stick to whatever it is you are coating.
    if you are using AG+ or your own silver rich emulsion then 1 coat ( thin coat ) will be enough ...
    put the plates into something dry and dark and let them dry ... if you double coat them just pour another coat ontop of the first one
    it will coat easier and faster the 2nd time . i usually take a 4x5 plate and cut in it quarters and stick them in a K1000 as a test exposure
    to check my emulsion and developer ....
    instead of camera exposures, some folks also project things onto their plates, since it is SG emulsion like photo paper, unlike with WP collodion that
    requires lots of UV, a contact print or enlargement can be done too ...

    here are a few on my website:https://nanianphoto.com/blog/tag/ambrotype/
    ( some are glass negatives others are the reversals, and some are electronically colorized )

    ps. hardened fixer helps reduce lift and frilling
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2015
  20. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Re, the drying the plates. I could imagine a big chest made out of 1/4 MDF (or even thinner) with oven racks and two PC case fans either end. That wouldn't take much to put together. But, this is definitely cart before horse stuff with me!

    Back to the plates - so, once trimmed, you can still just slide them into the slots of a holder? What about trimming them even slightly more and simply taping them to the back of the holder?

    Anyhow, I am now convinced! I need to stop procrastinating and do this! My wife is always asking for ideas for Christmas - I think a Parlour kit might be a good suggestion for her to get me.
     
  21. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    For me a small dorm fridge was the ideal way to dry plates. Cool, ventilated, and light tight. Your idea may work too.

    Yes, you can definitely trim the plate smaller and tape it to the back of the holder. Do a "dry run" with a blank plate -- loading it in the camera, moving the dark slide, etc.
     
  22. MAubrey

    MAubrey Member

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    I've been eyeing the Rockland process for months now. All of this is exactly the discussion I've been looking for!
     
  23. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    OK, new line of query. I have pretty much determined that the only place I can get it is Freestyle, which means shipping to Australia. It was suggested once apon a time that I use the Foma emulsion, which is easier to get here. Has anyone had any experience using that emulsion?

    Cheers
     
  24. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi huffy

    the problem isn't really what emulsion the problem might be the magic developer. you CAN get it shipped separately ( its magic and costs a healthy amount of $$ )
    ( even off of the rockland colloid site ! and other places ) but it is proprietary so no one has their own version yet. their metal plates aren't plain old trophy aluminum either
    but laquored or enameled ( i can't remember which one ) so regular metal plates ( like with tintypes ) might not give you as good results.
    if you email rockland and specifically ask them about the developer and plates they will tell you if you can get the developer only from freestlye and you can ask them how they treat their plates.
    while i haven't done this, it MIGHT work if you put an undercoat/sub layer of urethane or gelatin ( as they sometimes suggest one does for ez coating of glass plates ).

    good luck !
     
  25. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Its Hoffy, but that's OK. My Principle at primary school was called Mr Huff. He was Huffy :wink: (and while we are off subject for a second, my Brothers name is David Hoff - hilarity has ensued in the last few weeks.)

    Anyhow, back to the topic. My Dry plate kit has now been ordered and is on a slow boat to china......and then hopefully a faster one to Australia. I'm looking forward to playing with it in the new year!

    Cheers
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    Excellent !

    sorry about the misspelling, my stupid speelchecker in my computer
    CONSTISTANTLY misspells words like YOUR NAME that it thinks are something else !

    john