View Full Version : Suggestions on large plate images

01-01-2014, 12:46 PM
First, let me state that I know absolutely nothing about plate photography, which is probably a good thing as I don't have my head full of a lot of fuzzy, wrong ideas on it. I'm a competent film shooter, and develop and print myself. However, there is something special about the plate images I'm seeing here. The blacks remind of the deep blacks I used to get w/ my etchings. I would love to understand the plate process, but here's the rub. I like big images. Not huge, but 18" is fine w/ me. It would appear that all the plate images I'm seeing are done by contact printing? Or am I seeing the plate itself? As you can see, I'm a blank slate on this process. I have no interest in shooting LF, but want images like what I see, but large. Are the two things mutually exclusive, or is there some sort of process that would give me a similar look by enlarging or some other method?

01-01-2014, 01:18 PM
hi momus

im confused at what you mean by plate images ..
do you mean wet plate or dry plate ?

i can't speak for wet plate

BUT ... it IS possible to coat glass with liquid emulsion and print on the glass plate
in the darkroom with an enlarger and use the plate as an internegative that is
printed onto photo paper ... or you can put a background behind the plate and make it the final image
its not as hard as you might think ...

01-01-2014, 03:58 PM
Dry plates are basically just sheet film on a funny substrate; anything you can do with a 4x5 sheet you can do with a 4x5 plate (except fold it, I guess). I can't think of any reason that the negative being on a plate would affect the blacks in the final print. You might be seeing contact prints, which seem to have a certain visual "pop" all their own, but probably spectacular blacks in a print are just a sign of a printer who's getting really spectacular blacks.

There are plate cameras down to at least 645 format, and I would kind of expect that people wanted to enlarge those images most of the time, but contact prints and plates are a natural match because the plate can be its own printing frame, holding the paper flat and the emulsion in contact. For enlarging I think it'd be easier to just use sheet film.

Wet plate, I know nothing about. I think the plates are wet.


01-02-2014, 12:11 AM
I had recently posted several images in the gallery of prints that were made from my own experimentation with homemade dry-plates. Nothing special though, and they were removed shortly thereafter. The dry-plate negatives were used in direct contact with the photographic paper to create the prints which were then scanned. So, in those instances the print size was restricted to the size of the plate used. But yes, the plates can also be used in a regular enlarging apparatus to produce enlarged prints. I guess an important question for momus would be . . . What is the negative size to be considered here? and Could you direct us to an image that has the qualities desired?