The confusion between wet plate and dry plate is a common one. The wet plate collodion process was developed by Fredrick Scott Archer in 1851. It was ‘photography’ for twenty years. Wet plate gave us both the haunting documentation of the Civil War and the earliest iconic images of the American West. But, most practitioners could hardly wait to be quit of the process. Many attempts were made to produce a dry collodion process, but none had enough sensitivity to become popular.

Silver gelatin photography and ‘dry plate’ was invented in 1871 by Richard Leach Maddox, and plates were available commercially by 1873. In 1884, Josef Eder developed orthochromatic emulsions, and in 1889, Kodak started putting emulsion on nitro-cellulose film. By the 1940’s, silver gelatin emulsions were available in so many forms and variations of stunning beauty, most of which have never been surpassed, that many consider that time frame the apex of silver gelatin artistry. Yet most have been lost to us commercially. There are countless d.i.y. /artistic possibilities available to us today without ever worrying about producing a T-grain... Addictive, indeed!

Another common area of confusion is the role of a book editor. He or she is responsible for the organization of a book, not --by and large -- the writing. The authors of the SPSE Handbook are a who’s who of emulsion engineering and chemistry greats, and as can be expected among such a crowd: intensely peer-reviewed.