I recommend a beginner find a system that is known to work together - Collodion, Developer, Silver Bath solution, Fixer, and NOT just "mix and match" from all the recipes found surfing the net. Some collodion mixes work better with some developers, for example. The above recipe capture from many sources is not that useful if you don't know what's going on. The "sugar developer" for example is actually just a regular acetic acid developer formula, with some sugar added as a restrainer, as it can be to most formulas. Yet, the web perpetuates these errors because people copy/paste information - right, wrong, or incompatible, and imply a newbie should just "dive in." There is a lot of background information missing in this one page "guide."
Best is to get a guidebook, or take a workshop, or follow a forum for a few weeks. Worse is to dive in with little understanding of the process and interactions. I am closely involved with the wetplate community, and many beginning problems can be prevented by acquiring more knowledge first.
Are there certain cameras required for this or will any 4x5/large format do? Also do dry plates get the same 'type' of end result, or is it different altogether?
Here is a great article/tutorial on getting started by Joe Smigiel at Unblinkingeye.
Then I would spend some time searching the archives on the wet plate forum here:
Most large format cameras will work. There are some issues though.
Originally Posted by sage
1. Be prepared for the havoc that dripping chemistry will wreak on your camera (and plate holders, your shoes, etc.)
2. Most modern lenses are a little slow and, for the most part, too sharp. Try getting your hands on an old Petzval or something similar (you won't need a shutter, that's what the lens cap is for)
3. Not all 4x5 plate holders are the standard size, you may need perform surgery on a standard film holder to get something that fits.
4. Some of the recipes call for the use of ether which is highly flammable and is sometimes used for nefarious purposes. Some suppliers may require you to fill out some paperwork that goes to the DEA if you are a US resident.
5. Dry plates have a different look and feel. They're wonderful, but very different.
I've just completed a workshop this morning with Christopher James at Santa Fe Workshops which probably qualifies me as the newest beginner in this discussion. We used Bostick and Sullivan chemistry, which worked great. An interesting thing for me was the variety of cameras we used for wet plate. They included a ful plate view camera, a Brownie 3A and a Holga, each of which produced nice results. It is an intersting process and also one that was fun. Wonder how long my hands will be black? Bill Barber
Welcome to the club! In Re Black hands...as long as you want them to be.
The chemical companies that sell chems for all purposes will usually have you fill out paperwork to identify yourself as a photographer (US). My understanding is other countries have similar laws/guidance. Very good recommendation is before you start buying chems, READ the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on the chems you are bringing into your workshop/house. Within collodion there are chems that IF handled poorly are known carcinogens, things that can go BOOM, PFFT, Poof, or death. Granted driving to work can be just as dangerous depending on where you live. Also, follow the recommendations for a workshop, forums and/or local resources (like a photographer doing this type of work). A workshop helps to clear up the mystique surrounding this art and shows steps visually which you should have read through the forums available. It is an incredible process and I love it but it is similar to motorcycle riding, dont lose focus. Collodion is very similar to any other art, like woodworking. IF you follow the appropriate safety procedures you will be more than fine, like never waving your hands over a running table saw or in collodion mislabeling KCN and inadvertently mixing it w/ an acid. Both result in a bad day.
Read the MSDS, join the forums, take a workshop, HAVE FUN!
But only to countries that allow Fedex Hazmat ...
Originally Posted by Kerik
When it comes to hardware, especially lenses, you can use anything. Someone above said "most modern lenses are too slow." Not true. I've used Velostigmats, Protars, Dagors, Tessars, as well as the older Petzvals and Rapid Rectilinears that were used from the 1860 until 1900. A typical RR is F8, and many magic lantern petzvals are around F9. They work fine. Why would an F4.5 Tessar not work? It does.
I have slowly putting the pieces together for a whole plate camera fir the last several months. Currently, I have just about everything minus the chemicals. I could have the shipped here by BS but due to the hazardous materials fees shipping becomes expensive really fast.
I read about John Coffers Poe boy formula that omits the ether. Locally I found 198 proof ethanol, which looks like it would work. I have found everything else, but before I order that ethanol wanted to make sure it would work!
Any input would be great!
(pardon my typos doing this mobile on a rather rocking train)
yes it should work. you MAY need to add a bit of water as i think grain alcohol is like 190 proof. you do need a bit of water.
it is "poor boy" collodion BTW
Originally Posted by coriana6jp