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Wet Plate Collodion pt.1

a couple months ago my friend lends me a copy of the BBC documentary series Genius of photography (a recommended film by the way) in the first episode it shows the very early types of photography like daguerreotypes and wet plate shooting, and i get hooked! the images of those early process is very different, it seems like they just popped out  from the plates. the film didn’t show much of the process details, so I thought daguerreotypes will be perfect! a few hours later perusing the web reveals the complicated and costly nature of the process (so strike that from the list!)

the other process that caught my attention is the wet plate collodion, shown in the film by Sally Mann who portraits her husband as a project.more visits to the world wide web reveals a more user friendly processes and materials! this is it i say!

the how to on alternativephotography.com

then of course the list i make concerning the viability of this project:




after discussing with my real world friends and my web friends on APUG and collodion forum i solved the camera problem, by deciding to build my own large format camera (well solving it is a very optimistic way of seeing it as i even haven’t start the building), at first i decided to build it  based on Jon Grepstad plans ( who is very helpful and a nice person) but in the process i decided that as this is my first foray large format photography and nevertheless my first camera building, to make it simple and found the plans by Edward A Hoover (haven’t had the chance to talk with) more viable and sufficient enough. i’d only got the sketch it in 3D so far using Google Sketch-up (a very intuitive software!)

based on Edward Hoover plans

i also picked the lens for the soon to be camera, it’s an Industar-51 210mm f 4.5 tessar, the price is right (from the nice people of the Ukrainian eBay republic)! it should cover up to 5×7 format.

the progress on the chemical is still sketchy, i found out a importer for collodion, but the stuff they had had been expired for two years, the guy offered me to use one can for free though as a sample, so we’ll see about that after i build the camera. haven’t found the source for the rest though such as the silver nitrate and the developer. but i have high hopes for that!

so for now my first priority for this project now is to get started on the camera building!



a more detailed view on the processes from Joseph Smiegel

Filed under: alternative process