Robert, thanks for the tip on Porter's. I think I had seen that before somewhere. It sure isn't cheap at $13/yd. What I'd really like to try is to make a 'popup' type tent made out of the stuff. Wouldn't it be cool if you could take one of these and use darkcloth instead of netting? Talk about portable!
Well, I know it can be done, but $13/yd would make it quite expensive....
There are also the ez up type canopies out there. Again, that's a lot of fabric.
I considered how much room I would need to do a 10x12 plate in it with a dropped silver tank at a 20 degree angle, and also how much of a tabletop I could get using the vertical dimension I came up with. IIRC, the depth of the box was 10" with a 20" height and 30" width. I cut the front to provide a 14" piece that gives a 24" tabletop when open. Something like this cutaway view:
The position of the sensitizing tank can be rotated 180 for doing smaller plates at a more convenient orientation. The wheel axles are 1/2" carriage bolts set into 2x4 blocks attached to the bottom of the box. I think the legs are set at 20 degree angle from vertical also and simply slide into channels I made on the outside of the box. .
At first I considered building a darktent using the pop-up frame from a camping shower tent. Alas my sewing skills prevented the successful completion of that project. I then built a tent out of inexpensive white curtain blackout material and PVC pipe. The stuff was too heavy and too fragile to be practical.
Then I built the silver darktent. Nice to work in, lightweight but bulky, and a pain to set-up frequently. If I'm staying in the same spot for a couple days, I would set it up at camp.
Next I built a darkbox using the curtain blackout material again. This particular box was just slightly too large to fit easily into my car and it lacked wheels. The second darkbox uses Porter's premium darkroom fabric which is much lighter weight than the other stuff. The wheels make the darkbox easy to transport and it takes about a minute to set it up or tear down. It is much more convenient in that respect and it has adequate room. It could also be set up on a picnic table, the bed of a pickup truck, etc., using a smaller inside sensitizing tank and covering the hole in the bottom using a sliding door I've also incorporated there. The downside is the fabric is black and it can get hot inside, but once the plate is in the tank with the cover on, I can leave the shroud and open the sliding safelight window if I choose so it is not really a problem.
The last was the RV which sets up in about 5 minutes. It is the most comfortable and convenient to work in plus it has a lot of storage space. Downside is the mpg and fact that it can't go places where the darkbox could be hauled. But, I actually have the darktent and darkbox stored inside it in case I want to go well offroad.
I had about $300 into the first tent, $1000 into the silver one, about $100 into the first darkbox, maybe $250 into the second darkbox, and the RV was $900 to start (then a suspension job and some upcoming work) plus $100 in Velcro.
The darkbox represents a nice compromise between economy, transportability, and ease of use at a relative low cost.
Originally Posted by schrochem
I figure it is about 2.25 liters and $200 worth of silver nitrate. I've been fortunate so far since I have received a bunch of silver nitrate as a gift and found an old pound bottle of it in an antique shop for $5. And, I have smaller tanks of the same design for doing smaller plates. The capacity of a 1/4-plate tank is probably 20% of the big one.
The collodion and ether are both about $50/500ml so that is fairly pricey too.
Some of the glass I use is $15/square foot. Ouch.
But it is all worth it. Wetplate is so much fun and looks like nothing else.
Joe, again, thanks for all the info.
I got coffer's manual and dvds. I have already watched the DVDs and read most of the manual. I have ordered the chemicals and started collecting bottles and such. Next is to build the baths.
I'm going to hold off on making a darkbox/tent, etc. until I have my process down in my back yard... :D
One question I'd like to ask is how everyone is doing your development?
Coffer offered up two ways for the beginner, tilt tray and keeper tray methods. Also, how many of you just use the developer once and pitch it?
Scott. I use the helper tray method. I get a much more even development that way with less developer.But either way will work well. Don't toss your developer. Filter it back into a used developer bottle. When you mix a new batch then add some of the used to the new. For instance if you're using 100ml of developer to develop a plate then use 70ml of new and 30 ml of used. It can even be 50/50 what ever you decide. The idea is that some of the silver in the used developer helps give you better development.
I have to confess I use a helper tray but I think you get better development using just the simple pour without a tray of any sort.
I reuse my developer mixed 50/50. I usually use a sugar developer and try to keep the time around 15-20 seconds for positives.
Like Joe I use sugar developer for around 15-20 seconds (I only shoot positives right now), but use new developer. I'm using ~20mL of developer on 5x7 images developed in hand, no helper tray. I'm looking at moving up to 8x10 for which I have built a helper tray. If anyone is looking for an 8x10 helper tray, I actually built 2 and someone would be welcome to the 2nd for say $20 plus whatever shipping is.
Originally Posted by smieglitz
Thanks for the responses. I went back and looked at some of you pics Joe because I remembered seeing your helper tray (not sure where I got 'keeper tray' lol!). It looks just like a simple low walled tray. Any advantage of that over the way Coffer made his?
Also, how do yall pour it on? Coffer does a sweep across and in the reverse direction of the collodion pour. Is it really all that critical?
BTW, anyone see Quinn post on his forum lately?? I still can't get in there....
I feel banished :) I bet there is lots of good stuff.
What a great thread! Joe's designed and made some great tools for the process. Regarding development, I first learned with the tilted tray method, then in-hand development. I now mostly use a helper tray, especially with larger plates. Applying the developer properly is probably the trickiest part of the process and will take the most practice to get it 'right'. Although getting it 'wrong' often results in some wonderful swirly background effects. Unlike most, I don't re-use my developer. Even with filtering, I found that re-using it caused problems and my plates are plenty bright with fresh developer.
Don't fret the cost of the silver nitrate. It will last a long time (unless you forget to latch the lid of your silver bath and it falls over in your mobile darkroom when you leave your shooting site, which I managed to do a couple weeks ago. It made for a very expensive stain on the floor of my camper/darkroom.)