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View Full Version : DRYPLATE VS WETPLATE?!



deltafour
02-20-2012, 07:40 AM
I am at a crossroads here. Maybe you can help me.

I have most of my equipment to where I can start to take some photos.

I have read all the advantages and disadvantges of Wetplate and Dryplate. Then someone mentioned Collodion Dryplate. Which I never heard of.

I have searched and found a few articles on it but no photos of what a Collodion Dryplate picture looks like compared to say Collodion Wetplate or Gelatin Dryplate.

From your experience, which is the less "hassle" of the processes? Collodion Wetplate, Collodion Dryplate or Gelatin Wetplate?

Thanks for your help

Delta

jnanian
02-21-2012, 08:33 AM
hi delta

first ... would you be making the emulsion for your gelatin dry plates yourself ( lightfarm.com )
or using useful information found in the emulsion making forum here and elsewhere, or will you be
using pre-made emulsions ( liquid light, maco, foma, or the stuff from the costa rican coffee arts
( http://www.costaricacoffeeart.com )


i ask because there are steps involved in making gelatin emulsion that some may say are time consuming ...
there is a whole art in making silver gelatin emulsion,
and some just bypass the whole thing and buy the bottled stuff. i have done both,
and find myself not having the time to making the emulsion myself. it isn't overly complicated
... i made it in college in the 1980s when there was no internet, just photo annuals from the turn of the century,
but it is time consuming ... and you have to pay attention to details ( like everything else .. )

the most time consuming hassle part of making dry plates ( if you buy the emulsion )
is cleaning and subbing the plates before you put the emulsion on them ... not much of a hassle
while i haven't done the other 2 processes you have asked about ... i have read about them and i have teetered close to doing both of them.

it seems the time consuming part of the dry collodion plates is making the emulsion ... and coating the plates ...
( not many more steps than making dry gel plates )
the hassle of using wet plates, is sometimes in cold or hot weather it isn't as easy to make plates,
the plates have to be processed right away when the plates are still wet ...
and your chemistry and silver bath might go wonky depending on how many plates you have made &c
wet plate users can probably answer that question way better than me ...

it seems to be the easiest of the 3 processes though .. just collodion, silver nitrate and the developer/fix
the others seem to be more time consuming because you are making an emulsion, rather than sensitizing a viscus fluid.
unlike wet plates, dry collodion, like gelatin dry plates, can be stored for some time after they are made, and can be used without problems in cold or hot weather.


if you get a subscription so you can view the apug gallery,
there is a subscriber who goes by the name "hermit" who has some examples of dry collodion plates the he has made. they are cyanotype-printed so you can kind of get an idea of what the plates are like :)

you can probably poke around here and the light farm to see some dry plate prints look like
... i haven't really scanned any the dry plates i have made.
i have plans of making some in the weeks to come, and if i actually do, i will try post the results for you.
they'll be made using liquid light though, not emulsion i mix myself ( sorry, i'm a lightweight these days )


have you found the silver sunbeam yet ?

it might be helpful too so you can get an idea of what the process from start to finish is all about ...

http://albumen.conservation-us.org/library/monographs/sunbeam/


hope was some help ..
good luck !

john

Photo Engineer
02-21-2012, 10:35 AM
Of course, if you care about toxicity and fire hazard, collodion of all types is at the top of the list.

PE

jnanian
02-21-2012, 11:35 AM
Of course, if you care about toxicity and fire hazard, collodion of all types is at the top of the list.

PE

yeah, you are right PE, blowing up is a hassle ... kinda-sorta ;)

deltafour
02-21-2012, 01:47 PM
Thank you John

You've been a great help in making me decide what I want to do

Delta

goamules
02-23-2012, 03:31 PM
To me, the difference is; there are very many people doing wetplate, more each week. There are active forums, suppliers and vendors for the tanks, plateholders, etc. There are workshops put on in several parts of the country, from Will Dunniway on the left coast, to the Ostermans and John Coffer on the right. If you search wetplaters on Flickr, you will discover many groups, where many different photographers post their wetplates each week.

From dryplate we get.....silence. Or maybe I'm not plugged in, but I just don't see anyone doing dryplate. I'd venture to say there are more Daguerreotypists in the country than dryplaters. Correct me if I'm wrong, again, I'm quite involved with wetplate (oh yeah, World Wetplate Day is coming up in a couple months - 3rd year, see website and books of plates taken)

Why? I don't know.

dwross
02-23-2012, 04:13 PM
Sorry I missed this when it was first posted.

The "silence" is more a case of hard of hearing (or is it 'listening'?). I've been shouting to the rafters until even I'm sick of me! The problem is the history of corporate ownership/monopoly on the entire silver gelatin field. Unlike with collodion, dry plate wasn't a diy process for long. It moved straight from invention to factory, and Kodak, et al, were quite determined to keep it that way. They did an excellent job of brainwashing the public. Today, heirs to that Kodak philosophy, on APUG and at GEH, are still quite determined to 'own' the process. In a page straight from George Eastman's playbook, they claim it is too hard for anyone but the experts -- as though each and every formula were part of a religious canon. Nay, I say!! (:)) Let the people make dry plates (and film and paper.) Last night (coincidence?) I decided to try to do something about the situation. Less than an hour ago, I posted the following in this sub-forum. Let me cross-post here.

"Iíll admit that it continues to puzzle me why dry plate photography is lumped with the difficult, expensive, and dangerous processes. It is no more so than any other area of chemical photography Ė that is to say, about as dangerous as standard household cleaning products. I just made 70 sheets of 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 film for less than $10 in materials. I did wear nitrile gloves, and I did have the darkroom ventilation fan going when I had the bottle of ammonia open, but to tell the truth, I have a fan in my inkjet printer closet because the solvent fumes give me a headache.

I havenít finished working out the details, but I will be giving a free seminar late summer in Newport, Oregon, with hands-on demos (more or less, depending on the number of people attending.) Dry plate, artisan film and paper will all be covered.

Peace, joy, and a good camera, and the best of fun and satisfaction no matter what your process!
Denise
www.thelightfarm.com
http://www.thelightfarm.com/cgi-bin/...tent=19Feb2012"

jnanian
02-23-2012, 04:44 PM
hi denise

i really wish i could head out west and go to your seminar !

john

Photo Engineer
02-23-2012, 05:22 PM
There is no one on APUG trying to "own" dry plate. The forum is open to all!

There is certainly no one at GEH trying to "own" it either. The biggest site directed to dry plate, paper film and etc. is "The Light Farm" owned and operated by Denise. GEH has plans to have more broadly based workshops on dry "plate" photography and also wet plate. See their workshop schedule.

The workshops given at GEH show every student how easy dry plate is and how inexpensive.

PE

dwross
02-23-2012, 05:58 PM
Ron,

I sincerely believe you are of honest intent and simply don't know your own strength :). It seems you are not aware of your biases against amateurs mucking about in photo engineering. This one (#50), responding to the half dozen or so previous posts, kinda got my goat:http://www.apug.org/forums/forum50/98556-photographic-future-5.html. As you like to say, think about it.

d

dwross
02-23-2012, 06:11 PM
hi denise

i really wish i could head out west and go to your seminar !

john

John,

I really wish you could head out west, too, but I know you have obligations right now. Hopefully, if the emulsion gods smile, there will be an annual Artisan Silver Gelatin Seminar from this year forward. Maybe, some year soon, you can present!

d

Photo Engineer
02-23-2012, 06:19 PM
Denise;

I am trying to teach on 2 levels or perhaps 3 in order to give a foundation, history and future to analog. Without those, we are just repeating the distant past and that is all.

To quote myself: "However, much can be totally lost if you are not careful because the creation of a photographic system is as much an art as it is engineering and that is part of the beauty of it and part of the weakness as well." which has meaning in this context. No one person can "own" any aspect of analog photography. And this fits in the current context. There is room for everyone and every POV as I note in prior posts in that same thread. Read #42 and #44 again. I'm not the only one with that opinion.

We are both teaching people new to many aspects of analog photography. There is no need to throw a stone in either direction or we will both end up in the wrong. We will go a lot further helping each other out instead.

PE

dwross
02-23-2012, 07:23 PM
Well, good grief, Ron. No stones from me. The Light Farm is dedicated to collaborative and cooperative learning and teaching (although, in truth, I can get testy about obfuscation.) You have been invited to participate many times. Mark's articles are valuable contributions. I wouldn't have posted what I did except to address as honestly as I know how the comment that there is "silence" on the subject of dry plates.

I still don't see that you understand the influence of the repetition of the word "I" in so many of your posts about emulsions. Please consider that it might be daunting to newcomers. Also, I draw your attention, and perhaps your memory, to this thread, http://www.apug.org/forums/forum205/90846-i-signed-up-emulsion-making-coating-eastman-house-3.html, particularly post #23.

Respectfully,
d

Photo Engineer
02-23-2012, 07:47 PM
"They did an excellent job of brainwashing the public. Today, heirs to that Kodak philosophy, on APUG and at GEH, are still quite determined to 'own' the process."

The above quote Denise, places you squarely on top of this issue! When you work alone, something I have seldom done, it is difficult to use "we" without appearing "regal" as that is the Imperial We! :D When Bill Troop and I work together on a new formulation of developers or fixers, I use "we". So, just a matter of English. After all, you use it too. You used it over 5 times in your post above. And, you seem to have gone to a lot of trouble marking my posts that apparently irritate you.

You do excellent work and your web site is mentioned in my book FWIW.

The fundamental problem between our approaches is that if a student asks me why something happens, I can usually answer them or know who to ask to get help. And, if they should ever teach, I would hope that they can carry that answer forward as a line of reasoning to their students. And thus you see my reasoning here. Both what you do and what I do, in terms of methodology are different but correct. There is no absolutely right way.

PE

dwross
02-23-2012, 08:05 PM
Dang. I had absolutely no intention of falling into another can of worms with you over this subject. I suspect we irritate each other :). I didn't have those posts marked, but I certainly remembered them enough to do a search and rescue. Perhaps we can leave this as it should have been from the beginning.

Every process has its beauty. There are certainly intellectual and artistic challenges and rewards with both wet plate and dags, but for simplicity, safety, and affordability, not to mention beauty and versatility, you can't beat the dry plate process. I hope more people discover its rewards. 'nuf said. back to the darkroom with me (less dangerous than forums!!)

d

Hexavalent
02-23-2012, 09:03 PM
Sorry I missed this when it was first posted.

The "silence" is more a case of hard of hearing (or is it 'listening'?). I've been shouting to the rafters until even I'm sick of me! The problem is the history of corporate ownership/monopoly on the entire silver gelatin field. Unlike with collodion, dry plate wasn't a diy process for long. It moved straight from invention to factory, and Kodak, et al, were quite determined to keep it that way. They did an excellent job of brainwashing the public. Today, heirs to that Kodak philosophy, on APUG and at GEH, are still quite determined to 'own' the process. In a page straight from George Eastman's playbook, they claim it is too hard for anyone but the experts -- as though each and every formula were part of a religious canon. Nay, I say!! (:))

Perhaps photographers were happy to purchase high-quality manufactured dry plates instead of mucking with collodion and/or gelatin coatin?

I'm not quite sure of what the "George Eastman playbook" is, but I will say that the folks at GEH and associated with EK have been extremely generous with information and support in my own emulsion projects. Some of the best advice I've received is cautionary - it's likely saved me thousands of $.

Photo Engineer
02-23-2012, 10:08 PM
Thanks Ian;

Anyone willing to try dry plate has my fullest support in every way.

PE

Mark Osterman
02-23-2012, 11:15 PM
Here at George Eastman House International Museum of Phtotography and Film we offer a wide range of hands-on photographic process workshops. These include everything from the dawn of photography (three workshops will actually be conducted at Lacock Abbey) to daguerreotype, wet collodion and various printing techniques...to gelatin technology. This year we have 16 process workshops; three that feature dry plate or emulsions.

These include:

Dry collodion negatives on glass. (this is not an emulsion process)
Collodion-chloride printing-out paper emulsion
Gelatin chloride AZO type emulsion for slow developed-out printing paper

Our workshops include an introductory powerpoint presentation on the history and technology, hands-on instruction, viewing masterworks of the featured process from the museums archives, relevant readings and full instructions.

All of our workshops are designed for the beginner, with absolutely no experience necessary to attend. Additionally, we are available for technical assistance via phone or email for any of the processes we teach (and many others that might not be on the schedule) even for those who have not taken our workshops. Anyone may come to the museum, free of charge, to do their own primary research in our photo and technology collections if they make an appointment. There is no need to make an appointment to use the research library, which contains books on optics, photo chemistry and process dating from as early as the 17th century. One visit and you'll think you have died and gone to heaven. :-)

Our next gelatin workshop (the third one we have offered in as many years) is set to go on April 2-4th. We still have a few spaces left. This workshop will be taught by Ron Mowrey and myself. Ron's approach is from the left side of the brain and mine is from the right side. It's a strange synergy that works and allows levels to find levels in a group situation.

If you are interested in gelatin emulsion and also want to see some amazing images, come join us and see how easy and cheap it is to make your own gelatin emulsion. No mystery...like making instant coffee.

For specific questions, feel free to contact me directly at mosterman@geh.org

For the link to this and our other workshops see: http://www.eastmanhouse.org/events/series/photo-workshops


Mark Osterman, Process Historian

Discoman
02-25-2012, 12:54 AM
Just my two cents, but the book Wilson's quarter century in photography is free on Google books, and includes recipes and such for wet and dry plates.
Also, wet plates have a time limit on on how long you can use them. If you can bring a plate coating darkroom with you, wet plate may be fine. If you can't bring a portable darkroom, dry plate may be your only option.
http://books.google.com/books?id=hixDAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=html_text&source=gbs_book_other_versions_r&cad=6
http://books.google.com/books?id=YY8aAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=html_text&source=gbs_book_other_versions_r&cad=6
http://books.google.com/books?id=NjV1AAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=html_text&source=gbs_book_other_versions_r&cad=6