silver nitrate and aluminum or magnesium camera backs

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Jim Chinn, May 4, 2008.

  1. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I am gathering materials to begin learning wet plate this summer. All my LF camera backs are hand made with some aluminum components as well as a Kodak Commercial View 8x10 that is made of magnesium. The aluminum is powder coated. I understand that no matter how carefull one is, silver nitrate will get on the camera and holders. Will the silver nitrate react in an adverse way if it comes into contact with non-coated aluminum or magnesium?

    If aluminum presents a problem, I'll make a wood back. If that is the case, any ideas as to what is the best sealer/overcoat for the wood with wet plate use in mind?

    Thanks for any and all answers in advance.
     
  2. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Your best bet is to make a wood back. The silver may not ruin the other backs, but it will sure make them ugly. No matter how careful you are, the sensitizing solution will drip everywhere. Don't forget there are more chemicals in the sensitizer than pure silver nitrate.
     
  3. Brook

    Brook Member

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    Cant speak to magnesium, but aluminum doesnt seem to be reactive to the silver bath. I have found in my limited experience that the inside of the plate holder will get the worst of it, and with practice its only a few drops. If you are sloppy with this you will have plates with a lot of artifacts. If you are planning on converting film holders and you are concerned with wrecking the camera, you might want to pick up a junker camera. Organic materials such as wood, felt light traps and skin on fingers get eaten up by silver nitrate. Skin on fingers has the benifit of growing back quite quickly, everything else needs repair or replacement.

    Priorities tend to change quickly when your plate is almost perfect.
     
  4. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    I use a Kodak masterview. I've shot many hundreds of plates with it now. There are some stains on the camera from silver nitrate drips, but it's only cosmetic. Silver nitrate will eventually eat wood in addition to making it ugly. Unless you're worried about a few black spots, I say stick with the metal. You can minimize the amount of silver landing on your camera by thoroughly wiping the back of the plate before you place it in the holder, then wipe the outside of the holder before you place it in the camera.
     
  5. nawagi

    nawagi Member

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    My holders are anodized aluminium and acylic plastic. The alumimum will stain, but along with the acylic inserts they have remained robust for many hundreds of plates. Two tips: after draining your sensitized plate, use a paper towel to really absorb any silver bath droplets on the back of the plate, allow it to really drain well (at least 30 seconds, 60 seconds is better if the air is not too dry); and be sure to thoroughly wash out your plate holder at the end of the day: holder, darkslide, inserts all need to be throughly cleaned to avoid contamination and damage from the silver bath's solution. Yes, sounds pretty anal -- but the reward is repeatably flawless plates (ask Kerik - he's seen 'em)

    NWG