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Thread: First Dry Plate, and Suggestions Needed

  1. #1
    Foamer
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    First Dry Plate, and Suggestions Needed

    I shot my first pair of NoddaDuma dry plates a couple of weeks ago. I love wandering around the desolate areas--plenty of those in the Dakotas. I'm always looking for abandoned farm houses etc. I've been photo'ing them with my Chamonix 045n and lenses c.1905-1925 and FP4+, usually. I found an abandoned country school in the northeast part of South Dakota that had an old piano in it that seemed to have potential, so I shot two plates. Lens was an 1858 Derogy Petzval, about 5 inch and f3.5. I used ND filters to get my exposure down to 1s, and bracketed at 2s. Metering done with Minolota IVf. The 2s was the closest. It has scanned well, I think. I like the plates. This is the look I've been after for years, but just didn't want to commit to wet plate. As an outdoor photographer I don't know how practical that would be for a guy who lives in a place where it's below freezing four months of the year. The dry plates give me what I want.

    Now for my issue. I sent the plates to Blue Moon next day mail on a Tuesday, but they didn't get them processed until the following Tuesday. I got them back on Friday, roughly 10 days after mailing them off. I do understand these take time to do, and Sarah et al. at Blue Moon were very nice to me and helpful on the phone. However, ten days just seem like an eternity when I'm trying to learn how to shoot the plates. It's also $5 per plate processing, plus the postage. All in all each plate is costing me over $10. (Don't you 11x14 shooters dare snicker!) I really like the dry plates but do want to cut the costs, and see much quicker results. So, I think I need to start processing my own at some point.

    I processed a little bit of 35mm b&w in a high school lab 20 years ago, and that's it. However, I didn't find it hard. I have no dark room, but do have an interior bathroom that is very dark at night and has a sink with running water. I've also bought a Patterson red safe light to load the plates with. What else do I need? What would be the simplest set up? Could i just call up Blue Moon and ask them to send me what I need? How long does it take to process a small batch (~4) of 4x5 plates? Is there a video I can watch somewhere? There is no one nearby to show me. My plan for now is to keep scanning the plates, but eventually I would like to start contact printing using the sun. I don't see how that could be all that hard either. If all this seems to work out I will start processing my own sheet film too. I also want to start shooting plates on my Gundlach Korona 5x7 as I can use my bigger Petzvals on it. Finally, I'm getting the historic look I've been after for years!

    Last weekend I took photos of three officers of the U.S. 7th Calvary. They were dressed in Civil War uniforms and posed at a Civil War era fort (Ft. Sisseton, SD), but these guys really are active duty military in the U.S. 7th Calvary! I shot two plates and four sheets of FP4+. I'm really excited about this and so are they. The fact the very first plates I shot came out gives me hope these will be even better. I won't get them back until this coming Friday though. There is a bigger Civil War re-enactor event coming up in two months, and I want to be more practiced and ready for it.

    Any comments on below photo are welcome. I really want to learn.


    Kent in SD
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails DPpianoM.jpg  
    In contento ed allegria
    Notte e di vogliam passar!

  2. #2
    Randy Moe's Avatar
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    Re: First Dry Plate, and Suggestions Needed

    https://www.freestylephoto.biz/ Has everything you need.

    Right now I have no Darkroom and use 5X7 trays in a closet until I need to wash and then to the kitchen sink to wash.

    Do film first as it's cheaper to waste, then do glass plates the same way, same chems.

    I do one at a time from start to wash is 15 minutes, then wash for whatever. I use Rodinal for everything, water stop, and TF5. Just add water. Bingo.

  3. #3
    Randy's Avatar
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    Re: First Dry Plate, and Suggestions Needed

    +1 on Randy's (Moe...not me) comment. I use my bathroom, though I can cover up any light leaks and process in the day time. I just put my 3-5X7 or 8X10 trays in the tub, lay a folded towel to kneel on. I have a red safe-light behind me so I am not completely blind doing dry plates. I process one at a time. I believe Randy has mentioned using a plastic spatula. I have not done that yet - so, here are my steps (plates shot at ISO 2):

    1 - Rodinal 1:24, 5 1/2 min @ 68° with extremely gentle agitation - very, very, very gently (slowly) raise one side of the plate about 1/2" then likewise lay it back down, then about a minute later I do the same on the opposite end, then a minute later, I do a side, then a minute later the opposite side.

    2 - 1 min. wash in plane tap water @ 68°

    3 - 5-6 min. hardening fix

    4 - 30 min final wash in standing 68° tap water, dump and replace every 5 min.

    It is very important to not touch the fragile emulsion when it is wet, as it can (and will) slough off. Don't even touch the sides (edges) of the plates as when Jason applies the emulsion, some runs over the edge and dries there - if you touch it when wet and it begins to slough off, it will take more with it. That is why I need to try using a spatula during processing - it will prevent fingers from inadvertently touching wet emulsion.

    So, really, all you need are:
    3-trays (don't even have to be actual darkroom trays - just any plastic tray / container you can get at Wal Mart, etc)
    1 or 2 - 16oz (500ml) capacity measuring graduates. (two makes it less likely to contaminate your developer with fixer)
    1 - smaller measuring graduate (for measuring the very small amounts of Rodinal concentrate you will be using)
    1 - fairly accurate liquid thermometer
    1 - timing device

    Anyway - it is much less expensive and enjoyable doing it yourself

    ps - I spent three years in your lovely state, back in the late 70's - early 80's, mostly near Rapid City...I was in the USAF. Shot lot's of pictures back then.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/52893762/bigger4b.jpg

  4. #4
    Foamer
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    Re: First Dry Plate, and Suggestions Needed

    I did find this Youtube video by yet another Randy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uIVOOfVys4

    It is helpful too. The spatulas are a great idea. How long do I set the timers?


    Kent in SD
    In contento ed allegria
    Notte e di vogliam passar!

  5. #5
    Nodda Duma's Avatar
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    First Dry Plate, and Suggestions Needed

    I think Randy’s on here or maybe Photrio.. he did a great job putting that video together.

    Make sure all your temperatures are consistent: dev, stop, fix, and wash.

    I handle the plates by their edges, and I have the trays with the channels on the bottom that let you slip your finger under the plate (or print).
    Newly made large format dry plates available! Look:
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/Pictoriographica
    .. because my wife is happy when I can cover my photography expenses!

  6. #6
    Foamer
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    Re: First Dry Plate, and Suggestions Needed

    If I can get the 4x5 plates going I'll start trying some 5x7. I can use my big Petzvals on those, plus an 1854 Edward Wood pillbox I have.



    Kent in SD
    In contento ed allegria
    Notte e di vogliam passar!

  7. #7
    Randy's Avatar
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    Re: First Dry Plate, and Suggestions Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    How long do I set the timers?
    I set it for the development time. After it ends I just estimate the minute or so in the water - not critical. After I put it in the fix I reset the timer for the fix time. For the final wash I just usually watch the wall clock, dumping every 5 minutes. It is not critical.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/52893762/bigger4b.jpg

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