Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Thread: My first Ambrotype

  1. #1

    My first Ambrotype

    After spending a small fortune to stock up on chemicals and rearranging the darkroom ("fume chamber"), I finally started doing some wet plate work. My first 3 tintypes were "a learning experience" but my next attempt, an ambrotype, came out not bad.



    I need lots of practice but I think it's off to a good start!

    "Photography from scratch" has a certain unique appeal to it - no factory made chemicals or compounds - everything cooked up in your own darkroom :-)

  2. #2
    Tracy Storer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Oakland CA
    Posts
    833

    My first Ambrotype

    Congratulations,
    I've been very curious about wetplate for some time, and will hopefully have the opportunity to explore it soon.
    Be careful, have fun, and make more!
    Tracy Storer
    Mammoth Camera Company tm
    www.mammothcamera.com

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    634

    My first Ambrotype

    Very nice--your picture looks like it would fit in perfectly with some old snapshots that I have (origin unknown) of dusty streets, picket fences, and the like, dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A bit mysterious, as if they were relics of someone's first experiments with a camera, and you have to wonder what other photographs followed.

    Incidentally, have you considered a "plate whirler" for coating? I think that I have seen reference to them in connection with historical ambrotypes and such, but not recently. Spin coating is great for uniformity and reproducibility, but not so good on economy, compared to hand coating.

    Good luck, and I hope you post some of the follow-on images someplace where I can see them.

  4. #4

    My first Ambrotype

    This reminds me that just last Sunday, the CBS Morning Show had a piece about a NYC-based Dueggerotypist (sp), although I can't recall his name now. They showed a clip of him polishing the plate, dusting it clean, and setting up a shot on the streets of NYC, and the resulting image from f/11 at 3 minutes, as I recall.

    I hope to see more of your work.

  5. #5
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,092

    My first Ambrotype

    If not for the power pole and architectural details of the house, that could easily have been exposed in the 1860s. Nice job! A few dozen more and you'll get the coatings smoother, fewer snags and holes, and so forth, but you're definitely on the right path...
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  6. #6

    My first Ambrotype

    Your highlights look very clean. What fixer are you using?

  7. #7

    My first Ambrotype

    I am using sodium thiosulphate, John Coffer's formula.

  8. #8
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,092

    My first Ambrotype

    Chris, fixer cleans up the shadows on an ambrotype -- it's a direct positive, with developed silver scattering light to form the light areas, and clear glass revealing the black backing (traditionally, velvet) in the shadow areas.
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  9. #9

    My first Ambrotype

    I’ve poduced many ambrotypes. Actually, it is a negative image—you can make a positive print from one quite easily—that appears positive when backed by a dark substance (paper, cloth, paint, dark glass, or, in the case of a tintype, sheet iron painted black) and viewed by reflective light. To make the ambro’s highlights a better white, nineteenth-century photographers frequently underexposed the plate and also used potassium cyanide as a fixer. Works great, but you obviously need to be careful with the cyanide, especially around acids. That’s why I asked.

    I also used commercial gelatine dry plates (lantern slide mainly), but encountered problems. Even with an underexposed negative, the highlights did not stand out. In part, I think, this was because the image, especially when fixed with thiosulfate, was too black. You could solve this with a ferricyanide bleach, but, of course, the image would fade. I also played around with a lead toner, but it was more bother than it was worth. I more or less lost interest and decided that, if I wanted to make an ambro, I’d just use the historical process.

    You can find some good information at: http://www.wellesley.edu/Chemistry/Chem&Art/Topics/Photography/photo_processes.pdf
    and more detailed discussions in William Crawford’s “Keepers of the Light.“ Of course, any number of nineteenth-century handbooks provide detailed descriptions.

  10. #10

    My first Ambrotype

    Chris,

    I am a very "tactile" person and really get into what I am doing. When I paint, I get covered with paint.

    I decided that any form of cyanide was NOT a good idea for me ;-)

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
  •