Monday, June 16, 2014

Wet Plates

Asa, 5x7 Wet Plate Collodion on Aluminum with Carl Meyer 12" f/4.5 lens
After experimenting on my own, with mixing chemicals for wet plates, and after assisting Peter DaSilva on his own wet plate project, I managed to start cranking out clean collodion alumitypes.

It hasn't been as difficult as it might seem. To recap, I had issues with lens flares and lighting problems associated with un-coated lenses. Chemical issues where not as bad as I've heard, rather a common developer issue. Veiling or clouding of the image from overdeveloping.  It was the same issue Peter and I worked out together, in which we came up with the mantra: Over-expose, under-develop.

If you expose correctly, you should start to see an image less than ten seconds from the moment you pour fresh developer. At ten seconds you should begin to stop developing and rinse your plate in water. It will continue to develop for a little as you rinse.

If you don't see an image before ten seconds you are under-exposing your plate and need more light. For these images I used two Norman LH4000 strobes at full power and a reflector. Approximately eight thousand watt-seconds. You can read more about the Norman strobes in an older post.

Hatuey, 5x7 Wet Plate Collodion on Aluminum with Carl Meyer 12" f/4.5 lens
The only other problem I had was crap in the chemicals - everything has to be periodically filtered through a coffee filter. The silver nitrate has to be maintained and filtered, as well as the developer, and even the salted collodion can get full of dried specs of collodion that need to be filtered out. Keep all your plate holders, tools, bottles, and beakers clean.

Ajeya, 8x10

Miriam, 8x10 shot with Carl Meyer 12" f/4.5 lens

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