Page 1 of 9 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 84

Thread: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

  1. #1
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    4,954

    Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    Hi,

    I hope to shoot my first wet plate by the summer, and I need to keep costs to a minimum while still making sure I do not skimp on the essentials.

    To that end, I have an extra 4x5 camera that I can ruin, and a few 4x5 holders to convert to 3.25 x 4.25 wet plate use.
    Got me a lens and a little darkroom space.
    I plan to buy some black aluminum sheets, and have a machinist friend cut them to size for me.
    I also plan on buying the complete kit of chemicals from Bostick & Sullivan to keep it simple for now.

    What I'm looking for is some hardware, namely, the box and accessories for the silver bath; I was wondering if anyone might know of an inexpensive source for these.
    Or can I make my own out of wood or plexi?

    Please feel free to add any other suggestions, or experiences, or things to avoid, as anything at this stage will help.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    ScottPhotoCo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    776

    Re: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    Ari,

    You can make your own silver bath with plexi and a dark box.

    The kit from B&S is great but their fixer is not the best. You should wash the plates for at least an hour or more if you use their fixer. Look up KCN. It fixes quickly, the tones are great and you don't have to wash nearly as long.

    Feel free to email or PM me if I can be of assistance.

    Tim
    www.ScottPhoto.co

  3. #3
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    4,954

    Re: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    Thank you, Tim!

    I wanted to attend a workshop nearby, but prices were more than I could afford.
    And those that I contacted for one-on-one training were unavailable or too far away to make it practical.

    So yes, I will be asking questions.

  4. #4
    Graflex Wayne Aho's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    88

    Re: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    KCn is getting harder to buy, my last commercial vendor stopped selling it. I would also recommend John Coffer's manual for wet plate (I think its about $80 now) which also includes videos. I made my own tanks, they don't have to look pretty. I started with the B&S kit, it is very complete, and easy to start with. My other sources for chemistry are Artcraft chemicals and Chemsavers. Some people have used glass vases from Hobby stores for the silver and fixer baths. If you use a darkroom, the silver tank does not need to contained (light tight). Others have used trays. Keep in mind, the B&S kit contains very little silver nitrate, the stuff is costly, so your tank will have to be small. You can get by w/o the Cyanide, and in starting out, you'll have alot of other issues to worry about.

    Don't forget your safety glasses, and good luck.
    Wayne

  5. #5
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico
    Posts
    9,712

    Re: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    You can also by cut plates from B&S.

    I converted an old Polaroid pack film holder for WP-works great and I had no other use for it. There is a video on line somewhere. It took just a few minutes.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  6. #6
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona
    Posts
    5,109

    Re: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    Forget the KCN, especially at the start. It's quite toxic, expensive, hard to get, and conventional sodium thiosulfate also gives very nice results.

    I've shot at least a thousand plates using converted plate holders, and haven't had a drop of silver hit the camera yet. Unless you're deliberately very sloppy, I don't see how it could happen, so don't worry about that too much.

    You can make your own boxes from wood and plexiglass. Use 1/4-inch plexiglass and a solvent cement to melt the plexi together. Don't forget you'll also need a dipper and perhaps a tray for developing.

    Watch craigslist for a big guillotine paper cutter to cut your own plates, but B&S precuts them for a reasonable price til you find one.

    Watch Quinn Jacobson's instructional videos on youtube. But if you can see and do it in person at a workshop or with an experienced wet plate photographer, it would be an immense help.

    It's a great process, very repeatable with a very nice workflow once you get past those frustrating early learning phases that come with every new process. Good luck with it!
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  7. #7
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    4,954

    Re: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    Thanks a lot, guys; this stuff is gold!

    Mark, after we last spoke, I did check out the videos, they are great, very simple and extremely helpful.
    And I'm following your advice to start with metal plates over glass; I have since sourced a cheap place to buy the aluminum, and a cheap place to get it cut, all local-ish.

    Kirk, I'll have a look at the conversion video; sounds nice and easy for a beginner.

    Wayne, I appreciate the advice and resources, thanks.

    Two quick questions:

    1. From what I've read, there was a huge war a while back over which fixer to use for wet plate; something that rivalled the great Pyro debates.
    Without stirring the pot, can I use off-the-shelf Kodak Kodafix? It does have sodium thiosulfate, and it does state on the bottle "good for film and plates".

    2. I'll be making (trying to make) my own holders for now; of what thickness should the aluminum plates be?

    Thanks again.

  8. #8
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    4,954

    Re: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    I've shot at least a thousand plates using converted plate holders, and haven't had a drop of silver hit the camera yet. Unless you're deliberately very sloppy, I don't see how it could happen, so don't worry about that too much.
    I know I will mess it up once, that's a given; the other reason for having a dedicated WP camera is that the large brass lens I have won't fit on a Technikardan 45-S!

  9. #9
    ghostcount's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Condado de la Naranja, CA
    Posts
    555

    Re: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    WRT tanks.

    Buy two of these.

    Paint the outside of one black for your silver and leave the other one unpainted for fixer (or just tray fix). Make lids using cardboard, masonite or your favorite MacGuyver method.

    Then, buy two of these or something similar (like a book stand).

    For holders... modify a graphic 1234 holder. They go for about $10-20 in Ebay.
    "Sex is like maths, add the bed, subtract the clothes, divide the whoo hoo and hope you don't multiply." - Leather jacket guy

  10. #10
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    4,954

    Re: Wet Plate Gear for Beginners

    Ooh, I like those ideas: cheap, fast and useful.
    Thanks, Ghost!

    Is there any reason the silver bath is at an angle? Could I not simply use a tray, and cover it with another (larger) tray?

Similar Threads

  1. Software for Beginners
    By Peter Lewin in forum Digital Processing
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 28-Sep-2012, 08:34
  2. Beginners first Thread 4x5 film
    By Luke79 in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 33
    Last Post: 21-Apr-2012, 09:54
  3. Beginners Advice.
    By rupal in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 18-Jan-2010, 21:07
  4. beginners luck - thank you!
    By Brett Deacon in forum Style & Technique
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 7-Jul-2004, 20:55

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •