Wet Plate base for beginner?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by mark, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. mark

    mark Member

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    I know both glass and metal have their benefits but I am wondering which you experienced folks would recommend to a rank beginner as a good material to start with?

    I see the benefits of both and at this point in my mind they are equal. But, I have no experience. I had a sheet of glass I was planning to use to begin with for no other reason than it was free. I knocked it off the counter. Since the free is gone I am looking for advice.
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Clear glass is probably the cheapest material. You will need to mix some special glass cleaner (1/3 distilled water, 1/3 alcohol, 1/3 rottenstone powder) to clean and polish the glass surface prior to coating. The advantages to glass are the ready availability, low cost, and the ability to make negatives from clear glass for printing. The downside is fragility and weight. I've also sometimes seen corduroy texturing in plates on alumninum that I suspect is caused by the adhesive for the protective plastic film they apply to aluminum plates.
     
  3. illumiquest

    illumiquest Member

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    for starting out I'd suggest glass since you can reuse it indefinitely, just wipe off bad emulsions and start again. I use black glass which I get from a stained glass shop. More expensive than clear but for learning I think it's easier to see your image as is shows up. Just my .02c
     
  4. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    Ask and you shall receive a multitude of answers.... All of them valid... That said, for a beginner, I vouch for aluminum or rather gloss black anodized trophy aluminum. Its consistent (especially from Main Trophy supply), easy to use. Just peel the protective cover, and pour your plate. No copious amounts of cleaning needed, no issues with lifting collodion, minimal weight, not breakable like glass. Get used to the workflow with aluminum plates and when comfortable, then move down the path of trying glass.... YMMV of course! Personally, I love the look of black glass ambrotypes, but still find glass way too labor intensive. I always get emulsion lifts, although I have not tried subbing the plates to alleviate that.
     
  5. LucRoMar

    LucRoMar Member

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  6. mark

    mark Member

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    What is subbing the plates?

    I have done a lot of reading and I made a list of negatives for each base. Maybe these are wrong but it is looking like they are not

    Glass:
    Breakable
    PIA to clean
    Heat transfer from fingers (differing opinions about this so maybe the jury is still out)
    heavy (not so much an issue now as I will be learning in a controlled still lifeish/studioish environment)

    Trophy Aluminum:
    Cost
    Cutting (apparently the lip after sheering is an issue
    Not reusable (though this might not be the case if the collodion is still wet)
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    You should apply a bead of collodion to the edge of the plate (with a q-tip, IIRC) and let it dry before coating, so that the emulsion has something to adhere to when processing so it won't lift off the plate. It is easy and quick to do, although it does add another step to the process.
     
  8. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    For a beginner such as myself, recommend the aluminum plates from Lund Photographic or B&S. They're cheap (only about $0.60 per 4X5 plate, for example). I try to keep the workflow simple till I'm comfortable with the process.
     
  9. illumiquest

    illumiquest Member

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    Glass is a lot more expensive, the cleaning is a pain in the ass though. I sub all my edges with egg which works for lifting.