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Thread: Tintype questions ??

  1. #1

    Tintype questions ??

    Howdy (again)!

    I've been looking at P.O.P. and Tintype in more detail and think I might go with Tintype for my roving portraiture this coming summer.

    I've got two questions:

    1 - Storing and transportantion of sensitized plates.

    If I pre-sensitize a large number of metal plates (prior to hitting the road), how do I store/transport to avoid damaging the emulsion? I am wondering if there is some kind of seperator sheets I can use that wont stick to the emulsion, even if the weather gets warm. If I can bundle them together snug in a stack, they wont bounce around and get damaged.

    (Sensitizing plates without a darkroom would be akward and time consuming.)

    2 - Framing.

    I have seen pictures of Tinplate frames that have an oval cutout (mat) and a folding cover. I'd like to find them in cardboard (=inexpensive!) but haven't had any luck. There's lots of squared-framed, but no ovals with covers. (I'll be working in 4x5) Any ideas?

    Thanks gang!

  2. #2

    Tintype questions ??

    Calamity,

    Tintypes, at least the "authentic" sort, can not be pre-sensitized; like ambrotypes, they are "wet-plate", meaning that in order for the plates to be light-sensitive the base (collodion) must be wet.

    There are ways of making dry-plates using collodion and various preservatives, like tannin, so it may be possible to make dry tintypes, but I suspect this will take months of work to get right. In any case, the speed of most dry-plates is pretty slow, so you might be looking at very long exposures. The maker of liquid-light makes a tintype kit, this may or may not work dry. It is certainly worth looking into.

    When the wet-plate crowd work outside the studio they use large darkboxes to sensitize and develop on site. Ray Morgenweck builds them. His boxes can be seen here. He also makes plate-boxes.

  3. #3

    Tintype questions ??

    It's the Rockaloid products that I have been looking at - perhaps it is not a true tintype (in the traditional sense).

    Rockaloid told me their "tintype kit" uses their "Ag-Plus" photo emulsion, which is a silver halide compound. In the Ag-Plus instructions, under coating plates, it says "After a few minutes, the emulsion will set up or become sticky and can be exposed and developed. Or it can be dried and put away for future use." Alternative Photography (http://www.alternativephotography.com/process_tintype.html) also talks about drying plates for future use but also uses the Rockaloid products. I therefore assume that this isn't a "wet plate process".

  4. #4

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    Tintype questions ??

    Calamity, if you do try the Rockaloid tintype kit, please let me know how it works. I've wanted to try it for along time and just haven't gotten around to it yet, but still interested... Thanks...

  5. #5
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Tintype questions ??

    Rockaloid's "tintype" kit seems to be a gelatin dry plate with a black substrate. It should resemble a tintype after exposure and development. Storing the sensitized and dried plates would be just like storing old glass plates -- best done in a wooden box with slots cut for the plates, like storage boxes for microscope slides (if you've ever seen one of those). Since you're handy with woodworking tools, CJ, you should be able to make one easily enough, just saw kerfs in a pair of boards the correct distance apart, and that inside a light tight box that can be secured closed (so it doesn't open in transit).

    I don't know about the Rockaloid emulsion specifically, but gelatin dry plates in general need not be terribly slow (the last glass plates made in America were T-Max 100 emulsion, and the current manufacture Russian made plates are supposed to be in the ISO 100 range as well); since Rockaloid's emulsion is (like Liquid Light) made primarily for enlarging or contact printing on alternate surfaces, however, I'd expect it to run between ISO 0.5 and ISO 6 equivalent -- that is, similar speed to modern enlarging papers, though probably faster than contact printing papers like Azo. Of course, the need to keep the silver "thin" will increase the effective speed, probably by a couple stops -- you might wind up being able to expose as high as EI 25, but more likely under EI 12 even so.

    The best I can suggest for protecting the emulsion from sticking due to heat is to keep the plates cool and dry inside their protective slotted storage boxes -- store them with dessicant packets in at least 2-3 nested zipper bags inside your cooler, with some ice or Blue Ice blocks to keep the interior cool. I'm well aware that the Great White North can get above 100 F on summer days -- and the interior of a car or bus can beat that by 30-40 degrees, and with that emulsion pouring at 130 F, you need to keep it cooler than that. Another possibility would be to add a hardener to just the portion of the emulsion you're using immediately to coat plates, immediately before coating. This will probably lengthen the required development time, fixing time, and washing time -- but should make the emulsion much less prone to getting sticky at reasonable temperatures (the emulsion in commercial films doesn't get sticky enough to stick layers together even in a 140 F sun drenched car interior, as long as it's dry).

    The one thing I can think of that might work for slip sheets and wouldn't stick to the gelatin if it softens is the silicone coated material used as the peel layer on self-sticking labels, double sided tape, etc. The glossy, slippery side would go toward the gelatin, with the backing (ordinary paper) toward the base side of the next plate. Of course, if you have any gelatin spill over the edge of the plate, or on the back, it may permanently adhere to the paper side of the slip sheets, so you might find it prudent to use double sheets or wrap a sheet around each plate, slippery side in.
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  6. #6

    Tintype questions ??

    Thanks Donald! I had pretty much decided that a wooden box with slots would be the way to go. Since I'll probably want to pre-coat at least 100 plates, I would probably make a number of boxes. I could fit them all in a larger insulated box with a space for a bag of ice. You are very right about the temperatures on the prairies in the summer! It can easily get over 100F at the end of July (which is when the fair takes place) and my bus can get ALOT hotter - of course I could put my icebox underneath where it isn't as bad.

    I heard back from the Museum today and they are THRILLED by the idea of offering Tintypes to the visitors so I ordered some AG-Plus and tintype developer today from Rockaloid to experiment with. I decided to do my own metal plates rather than paying for shipping. I checked out my film holders and I have some old Fidelity holders that look like they open up enough to slip in a metal plate (PHEW! that's one less thing I have to make!) and I have some light aluminum sheet that should fit the film slot in the holders, so I'll cut some aluminum, paint it black, and see if it will work.

    I'll let ya'll know how it works out. We have a scanner at work, so I'll scan my first (successful) tintypes for ya'll to have a look at.

  7. #7

    Tintype questions ??

    Calamity,

    You might want to consider using Black Aluminum Engraving Stock. This can be ordered in sheets of 12x24 or 24x48, and has a very nice shiny black surface. I know that regular Collodion adheres very nicely to it, and it provides a very good surface which doesn't need to be cleaned. I would assume that the Rockloid would also work nicely with it. It is also pretty cheap, running about $3 or so for a 12x24 sheet.
    http://www.maintrophysupply.com/aluminum.htm

  8. #8
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Tintype questions ??

    I would suggest testing to be sure, but you most likely don't need the special "positive developer" they sell -- tintype is not a reversal process the way even black and white slides are, and any developer that will develop a print should work fine with the Rockaloid liquid emulsion. Since you'll need to test for exposure and development times anyway to get the look you want, I see nothing to be gained over using regular Dektol, suitably diluted to give working time, though it might produce more contrast than you need/want (you will likely find low contrast desirable, since it will allow more exposure while keeping the highlights from getting too solid). Grain isn't an issue when you'll be viewing the original emulsion by naked eye.

    And though the end result is a positive of sorts, in this case (because the silver is developed directly from exposed halide rather than reversed from unexposed) you will likely find you need to expose like a negative (i.e. expose for shadows) and control highlights with development instead of exposing like a slide or Polaroid (i.e. for the highlights) -- but again, you may need to test both ways. Given the rapidity with which you can expose, develop, and view a plate, you can probably accomplish all the testing you'll need in a weekend, if you coat the necessary plates the previous weekend.
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  9. #9

    Tintype questions ??

    DADGUMIT!!! Just when I get all het-up over this here tintype thingy I run into the problem of plate holders!

    Looked at my Fidelity and Lisco holders and there's NO WAY I can modify them for plates!

    There's a fellow on the Net who will modify your camera and make a holder for only $300 U.S. - YEA RIGHT!

    Back off to AutoCAD to do some design and then to the shop to build plate holder - GRRRRR! Oh well, there's still winter left up here.....

    Anybody know how to cut a REAL narrow slot in wood? Like maybe 0.060" wide????

  10. #10

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    Tintype questions ??

    Donald, You could use just about any developer with the Rokaloid materials, but it wouldn't work right. Just put any B&W negative on top of a piece of black material, shiny or not. It doesn't work. The silver crystals are black in color and do not show as a 'positive'. In order to use 'standard' developers, you'd have to bleach the negative to turn the silver back into, well, silver. I had a long discussion about making dry plate tinypes a few years ago with a large group. The result was; coat a plate with any emulsion. develop in any developer, then bleach... Or, use the Rokaloid kit.... It's not a reversal process, but it does bleach the silver to obtain the true silver color...

    On the other hand, bleaching the negatives is not all that hard. I just wouldn't advise the sulfuric acid bleaches that seem so common as they can also be quite hazardous...

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