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  1. #1
    schrochem's Avatar
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    Wet Plate Collodion Questions

    Well it seems I'm on my way back to analog. I had sold my LF equipment and have been all digital for awhile now. However, I check the APUG gallery daily because it is some of the finest photography I can find on the web. I could start listing names but it would make the post long and off topic
    Anyway, I've been lured back by some of the recent tintypes (namely prifti's work). I've also long admired Keriks work but for some reason never thought to try wet plate myself. I even saw some beautiful plates Kendrick made of his cowboys when his show was here in town.
    I have been doing quite a bit of research online with what it takes to make wet plate postitives. I'm definitely intrigued and want to pursue this adventure. However, I have to buy some equipment again.....
    I'm trying to get on Quinn's forum but I guess he's out of reach right now. I would like to ask a few questions to those of you involved in this process.

    1) Why use glass over aluminum for positives (or vice versa)?
    Where do you buy the glass or aluminum?

    2)In prifti's recent portraits I noticed an array of tones. I am definitely more interested in the warmer tones. How is toning applied?

    3)I have searched the forums and found some useful information but not exactly where to buy the chemicals. I did see links for the collodion, but not the rest. So does anyone have links? Do you make all the chemicals yourself (including the collodion)?

    I have many more questions but I'll leave it at that for now. Perhaps, I'll let this thread perpetuate as the questions arise and I begin the process.

    Thanks for any help
    Scott

  2. #2
    RobertP's Avatar
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    Scott, The best thing you can do is order John Coffer's manual and DVD set. Just google his name and it will take you to his web site. His manual is probably the best on the market. It is all hand written. You will have to contact John by snail mail but he responds very quickly. He has no phone or electric. Also Quinn Jacobson's book, "The Contemporary Wet Plate Collodion Experience" is very good. Both guys are Gems to work with and are very helpful. I would suggest taking a workshop, it is a great way to get started. I'm from the Coffer school of wet plate myself but Kerik also runs a great introduction workshop and I think he has one coming up here soon. Robert.....P.S. Prifti's work is awesome as well as Kerik's. Kerik probably pours the cleanest plates I've ever seen.
    Last edited by RobertP; 10-13-2007 at 03:29 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3

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    Get glass anywhere. It's just regular glass, although some breaks better than others.
    The plate is trophy plate. Most people buy it from Main Trophy Supply.
    As for the tones, the warm tones are pretty much inherent, but accentuated with cyanide for fixer.
    The chemicals are available from Artcraft Photography Chemicals (they're online).

  4. #4
    smieglitz's Avatar
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    1) Regular glass will work. It allows you to choose between a negative or positive image in the field. Aluminum is convenient. Just peel and pour. No cleaning. I prefer to use deep purple glass to make ruby ambrotypes. They have a depth and color that can't be matched by aluminum. Making real ferrotype plates would be a pain IMO.

    2) Using cyanide fixer instead of hypo gives warmer tones and shorter development times seem to do that too. Addition of silver or potassium nitrate to the developer will make it go the other way towards a more neutral color. I also think some collodion formulas may be slightly warmer due to the particular halide salts used.

    3) Artcraft has been mentioned as a source and they have most of what you'll need. Mavidon is another source for plain collodion. Some of the other common photochemicals (hypo, silver nitrate, acetic acid, etc.,) can be purchased through many camera stores or online vendors.

    You don't want to make your own collodion as it is a dangerous process involving dissolving nitrocellulose (guncotton) in ether and alcohol. Much better to buy it readymade.

  5. #5
    JG Motamedi's Avatar
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    It is surprisingly easy. With a good manual (I have used Coffer's and the Ostermans') you can easily figure it out yourself. On the other hand a workshop is a great way to start. Some of the steps--pouring the collodion and developing the plate--are mechanical skills which need a bit of practice, so watching someone helps quite a bit.

    Regarding image tone, there are many contributing factors but it is easy to get a warm tone so don't let that hold you back.

  6. #6
    Guillaume Zuili's Avatar
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    Hi Smieglitz,
    Where do you get readymade collodion ?
    Best,
    G.

  7. #7

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    collodion

    Mavidon is another source for plain collodion

    Hello all,
    I use large format cameras, I am becoming increasingly interested in tintypes and collodion processes, I looked at the Mavidon website and it lists ready-made collodion. So this can be used directly for plates?
    I am new to this so still rather wet behind the ears...
    Secondly, could someone recommend a source to purchase a wet-plate back for my whole plate camera? I am in the UK.
    Thanks!
    Anton

  8. #8
    RobertP's Avatar
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    Make sure you buy plain collodion USP and not flexible collodion. Flexible collodion has formaldehyde in it and it will not work with wet plate. Harry once you purchase the collodion it still needs to be salted and mixed with ether and grain alcohol(190 proof) then allowed to clear before you pour your first plate. There are numerous formulas out there for your mixtures. If your camera takes a regular film holder then you can convert a film holder to use for wet plate. Also AWB will build you a wet plate holder that works just like a film holder. Star Cameras will also build wet plate backs but that would mean sending your camera in for modification. Now if your whole plate camera is just missing the plate holder and everything else is there for wet plate you can just have a wet plate holder made to fit it at Star Camera also.
    Last edited by RobertP; 10-14-2007 at 06:51 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9
    RobertP's Avatar
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    Clarkson Labs is another source for chems. Mike Jacobson at Artcraft can set you up with everything you need and his prices are probably the best.

  10. #10

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    Thanks for the info. Robert,
    I have film holders, but am just getting an older camera that has dry plate holders (book form). Are these OK or do I need something different? Also, what is the best collodion and tintype book to buy, in your opinion? I have been looking around at various sites, etc.
    Anton

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