View Full Version : Plate confusion

Jim C.
29-Sep-2009, 21:06
Doing some research before I plunge into 8 X 10 and possibly wet plate collodion and I'm a little
confused at the the terminology, I know what "Wet plate" is, but "Whole plate" I'm not too sure of
is it the same as wet plate ? or is it more akin to regular sheet film ?

Oren Grad
29-Sep-2009, 21:16
"Whole plate" designates a size - 6.5" x 8.5" - not a specific process. It could be daguerreotype, wet plate, dry plate, modern sheet film - any chemically-based process, really. I'd guess that virtually all of the ways of capturing an image have been implemented in whole plate size at some point over the years.

Jim C.
30-Sep-2009, 10:04
So if a holder is called 8X10 plate holder then is it safe to assume that the holder will be for 8X10 glass plates, or are their enough variances in the whole plate definitions that you outlined that it could be anything ? I've seen stuff labeled as such on the 'Bay and I'm not sure what the holders will accommodate in terms of thickness or if they could be used or adapted to wet plate use.

Ernest Purdum
1-Oct-2009, 10:32
An 8" X 10" plate holder, if correctly identified, takes glass plates directly. Film can be used in it by means of a "sheath", a thin metal adapter. Three edges of the sheath are turned over forming little channels into which the film is slid. They are hard to find, but a sheet-metal shop can make them without much difficulty, They shift the film plane back by the thickness of the metal.

Because "wet" plates have to be exposed before they dry, the emulsion drains into the holder. Because of this, the holder has to be quite different than those intended for use in dry processes. I think starting from scratch would be easier than trying to adapt a later plate holder to wet plate use. Then again, though, I'm not old enough to have used wet plates when they were common, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

1-Oct-2009, 12:23
Hi Jim,

The problem with the auction site is that many sellers, perhaps even most, don't know the difference between a wet plate holder, a dry plate holder and an 8x10 film holder. I have seen numerous 8x10 film holders referred to as plate holders. I think the old adage of "buyer be ware" applies.

When I look for holders, I examine the pictures carefully. If truly interested, I will ask the seller to provide exact dimensions of the holder, inside and out. I stay away from dry plate holders for wet plate work. Some will work, but in general, it is worth holding out for a true wet plate holder for wet plate work. The wet plate holder will have the hinges on the side and open in the middle.

1-Oct-2009, 13:14
AF-ULF, do you have a picture of this style of plate holder? My Googling just turns up one with a single side hinge, opening on the other edge: http://www.bwtownsend.com/camera/stock/jstockph.htm.

1-Oct-2009, 17:15
Jim, yes you can use a dryplate holder for wetplates, but with an adapter that you can make out of plexiglass. That way, you put the dripping wet plate in the adapter, and carefully put both in the wooden holder. The plexiglass simulates the old dry plate. If you wipe it out each time, the silver nitrate won't damage the wood.

You end up shooting smaller than the original size of the holder. The largest size I've been able to make for an 8x10 holder is whole plate size (6.5 x 8.5) because you need some margin to hold everything together. I've used these exclusively for all the weplates I've shot so far. You can make inserts of several sizes to fit one holder.

1-Oct-2009, 20:57
r a feldman,

There is a picture of the type of holder I use at http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/WPC/wpc.html. I realize I wasn't terribly clear in my post: the holder opens like a book. If the link doesn't work, go to unblinking eye, "Getting Started In Wetplate Collodion Photography."

Also, I like goamules' insert for adapting dry plate holders to wet.

Ernest Purdum
2-Oct-2009, 09:34
There were a number of differing designs of wet-plate holders. Probably hardly any of them would fit modern cameras.

Adapters for reducing from one plate size to another used to be quite common. They were called "kits". Holders for the big old studio cameras often had built-in adjustments for different size plates.

I like AF-ULF's advice to buy a book.

Jim C.
4-Oct-2009, 20:32
Thanks to all for the info. A lot more info to research and track down.

Goamules - what thickness glass are you using with your adapted dry plate holder ?