PDA

View Full Version : Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.



paulbarden
29-May-2020, 13:13
New to the Wet Plate Collodion process? It can be intimidating, and there is a steep learning curve. If you have questions (and you will!), the more experienced members here can hopefully answer them for you here.

Paul

Tin Can
29-May-2020, 13:19
Tell me about egg white plate edge application
Please

Ari
29-May-2020, 14:02
I'm waiting for the materials and some hardware to arrive. B&S 4x5 wet plate kit shipped today.
Film holder, tank, plates and lens are coming soon.

I started this back in 2015, managed to get 2 good plates out of the 40 or so I tried, and decided to shelve wet plate as my daughter was starting to walk and get into stuff.
I'm not sure why it stopped working for me after the first few promising plates. Maybe the silver bath and my home-made tank didn't get along. Maybe I mixed something wrong. I never found out and sold my gear soon after.
Back then I had very few troubleshooting resources, but I'll be posting here when I can with any and all questions.

Tin Can
29-May-2020, 14:10
I look forward to your participation

paulbarden
29-May-2020, 14:49
Tell me about egg white plate edge application
Please

Ahh yes, “edging the plate”. What is this and what is it’s purpose?

It’s the application, by Q-tip, of a dilute solution of egg albumen and water to the outer 1/8” of the cleaned surface of a piece of glass, prepared for making an Ambrotype (positive image on glass) or a negative.*

What is the reason for doing this? Even on a meticulously clean Piece of glass, the collodion doesn’t want to adhere tightly, especially at the edges of the plate. By applying a thin band of dilute albumen to the outer edges of the glass, the adhesion of the collodion is greatly improved. If the collodion is going to lift off the glass, it always starts to peel away at one of the edges, so this prevents that from happening. You still have to be meticulous about cleaning the glass**, but edging with albumen is the final step that guarantees adherence.

Materials:
One egg white
500ml of distilled water
A glass jar for storage
A whisk, or equivalent.

How to:
Separate the egg white from the yolk, and discard the yolk. Do not get any yolk in the whites or you’ll have to discard it and start again!
Put the egg white and the distilled water in a very clean (preferably glass) bowl and whip it thoroughly. Discard the frothy part and pour the clear portion in a jar for storage (lasts in the fridge for about 6 months). I use small mason style jars which have a metal lid, so I put a film of thin plastic over the mouth of the jar before fitting the lid; exposure to metal lids can induce rust which you don’t want.

To apply the albumen, just dip a Q-tip in the solution, and run the Q-tip along the top edge of the glass to leave a 1/8” line of albumen. It takes some practice to find a way to drag the Q-tip along the edge to make a clean line, but it’s not difficult.
Allow the albumen at least ten minutes to dry, and you’re ready to pour collodion and make a plate. You can prepare several pieces of glass days in advance and that won’t be a problem. I like to have 8 or 10 plates prepped and in the rack, ready to use at any moment.

*the main difference between an Ambrotype and a glass collodion negative is the density (a negative takes about two times as much exposure as a positive) and the formulation of the developer used.
** Cleaning a piece of glass involves not only a thorough scrubbing with a mixture of Calcium carbonate ("whiting", or powdered chalk) in water and alcohol, but the edges of the glass should be "de-burred" by rubbing the sharp edges, both top and bottom, with a sharpening stone (or equivalent), to take off the sharp edges, and make a rough edge that helps the collodion adhere to the plate. Some people use sandpaper to de-burr the edges, and that works fine too. I prefer a sharpening stone because it will last for years and is a more precise tool for the job, IMO.

cuypers1807
29-May-2020, 14:59
I avoid applying albumen by making the edges of the glass rough with sandpaper. The emulsion just needs something to hang onto so it doesn't slide off the edge.

paulbarden
29-May-2020, 15:10
I avoid applying albumen by making the edges of the glass rough with sandpaper. The emulsion just needs something to hang onto so it doesn't slide off the edge.

Yes, sometimes the rough edges can be enough to hold the collodion to the glass, but I have had an occasional plate shuck the collodion, so I like to edge with albumen, that way it always sticks. Edging with albumen adds an extra step, its true, but it takes a few seconds to do it, so I think its worth it. By all means, see if you can manage without the albumen edging, but the plate has to be meticulously clean to succeed.

Tin Can
29-May-2020, 15:46
This is an issue for me. Years ago I bought 200 5X7 glass plates to use for Dry Plate, per Denise Ross http://thelightfarm.com/ Lost momentum and never used them

I used Howard Glass http://www.howardglass.com/index.html on the recommendation of someone here

I had them polish the edges, they packed them very well with interleaving paper and extremely clean. I still have them...and they fit my wood plate holders

So, I suppose I will need to test and see if albumen is needed

I also need to test if they are clean enough right now

If not I ordered the Lund Cleaning clamp, as I tried a normal twin screw clamp and realized it was a waste of time

One day perhaps we can copy and paste this new thread into a better home...

Mark Sawyer
29-May-2020, 16:08
I've had good luck sanding the glass edges with a belt sander to help the collodion stick. I also round the corners just a hair. I consider it necessary to avoid little cuts to the fingers while handling the plates anyways.

paulbarden
29-May-2020, 16:22
This is an issue for me. Years ago I bought 200 5X7 glass plates to use for Dry Plate, per Denise Ross http://thelightfarm.com/ Lost momentum and never used them

I used Howard Glass http://www.howardglass.com/index.html on the recommendation of someone here

I had them polish the edges, they packed them very well with interleaving paper and extremely clean. I still have them...and they fit my wood plate holders

So, I suppose I will need to test and see if albumen is needed

I also need to test if they are clean enough right now


Wet Plate clean isn't the same as "clean from the supplier", I expect. The issue here is that to clean glass for collodion, the surface has to be lightly etched by an abrasive, which is what the calcium carbonate is. Anecdotally, I gather some people have had success by putting a load of glass through a dishwasher cycle and found that sufficient, but I have not tried it myself, so I can't say if that works or not. I prefer to stick with tried and true methods and use whiting and elbow grease.

Frankly, I wouldn't waste the $$ on a cleaning clamp. Its quite unnecessary. You can get a piece of rubber hobby mat and just lay it down on your work surface and it will hold the glass without risk of breakage. For 8x10 glass, I place a damp tea towel on the kitchen counter and clean my glass on that. The damp towel holds the glass very nicely. The plate vise Lund sells is for standard thickness window glass, NOT the thin stuff. Without support under the thinner glass, it will break when you attempt to clean it.

What is the thickness of the Howard glass? I've considered buying their 1.3mm glass, but I found my local dollar store sells 8x10 picture frames that have 1.2mm glass in them (sometimes its closer to 1.5mm), so that's what I use these days. Its the same thickness that Jason Lane uses for his dry plates.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
29-May-2020, 16:38
Some people also use amino silane as an additive to salted collodion to support adhesion. I think it is primarily use for Carbon printing. I tried it in place of albumen and did not find that it was effective. Has anyone used it?

Tin Can
29-May-2020, 16:41
Yes, I know that frame, really nice glass MCS Format Frame 8x10 (https://www.pfile.com/product/j-ff-81/?r=GB-J-FF-81___BL&utm_source=google%2Bproducts&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=GB-J-FF-81___BL&gclid=CjwKCAjw5cL2BRASEiwAENqAPnJorzE8NNGSFbwcCvq0KTV4wrLq6EDG33F5fXu7ig50zA3ArEaEBhoCwaMQAvD_BwE)

I just measured one 5X7 it is 1.5 mm, using a too big Digi caliber. Probably 1.6 mm

Ok, I read about cleaning the glass, but nobody ever mentioned that is roughs the surface. Makes total sense!

So does the other cleaning advice

I am NOT buying a Dishwasher!

Too late on the clamp, it will be useful for larger sizes

I spent decades working very fragile shims, by hand, my fingers are clubs but do know how to be very gentle.

Glass is far stronger if it has no flaw

I cut one down to 1/2 plate last night

I used to sell tools, so I like buying them too.

Oren Grad
29-May-2020, 19:40
Moved to a new home.

Have at it, and enjoy!

Two23
29-May-2020, 20:02
My plan is to start trying glass negatives very soon. I will start with 4x5 since that's easiest to work with, and I have a ton of 4x5 dry plates I screwed up. I might try putting those in the dishwasher to clean them. Will have to wait until my wife isn't home.


Kent in SD

paulbarden
29-May-2020, 21:00
Some people also use amino silane as an additive to salted collodion to support adhesion. I think it is primarily use for Carbon printing. I tried it in place of albumen and did not find that it was effective. Has anyone used it?

When I bought my B&S kit three years ago, I followed the instructions for using Amino silane to get better adhesion on glass, and all it did was make a mess of plates and ruin a batch of collodion. I found that a careful cleaning of glass was all that was needed to get good adhesion. I recommend pursuing good cleaning techniques and don't bother with Amino silane.

Ari
29-May-2020, 21:10
Funny, a friend who is very well-versed in WP told me the same thing today wrt the B&S kit.
She also added that the 7% nitric acid, for maintaining the silver bath, is unnecessary.
Anyone have similar views on the nitric acid?

Tin Can
29-May-2020, 21:37
Somewhere and long ago I read that some people made a penny clearing used Plates to recycle bad ones


My plan is to start trying glass negatives very soon. I will start with 4x5 since that's easiest to work with, and I have a ton of 4x5 dry plates I screwed up. I might try putting those in the dishwasher to clean them. Will have to wait until my wife isn't home.


Kent in SD

Two23
29-May-2020, 21:52
Funny, a friend who is very well-versed in WP told me the same thing today wrt the B&S kit.
She also added that the 7% nitric acid, for maintaining the silver bath, is unnecessary.
Anyone have similar views on the nitric acid?


I added the recommended drops of nitric acid to my first bath, about 500ml in a Lund 5x7 tank. All looked very good. In February I bought a Lund 8x10 tank that holds 1.5L. I dumped the 500ml in and mixed up 1L new silver solution and dumped it all together. The tins didn't seem as crisp and the contrast seemed lower. I couldn't figure out what was going on all of a sudden. Then I remembered I had not added any additional nitric acid. I checked pH and it was around 6. I added about a dozen drops of acid until the pH was about 4.5. There is a subtle but noticeable difference in the tins now--more crisp. Many "instructors" tell you to add the acid but don't over do it. Frem what I remember John Coffer and Mark Osterman recommend the acid drops, but apparently Quinn does not.


Kent in SD

Tin Can
30-May-2020, 05:19
PH is likely very important, water may have a PH variable

But I really don't know yet

Found this video, Ari, 'liked' it 5 years ago

Mixing Silver Nitrate for Wetplate Collodion Photography

https://youtu.be/UXV_OIDkNY4

Tin Can
30-May-2020, 05:46
Just noticed on FB Quinn has a live event at 1000 MTS time, perhaps we all should switch to Zulu time as it's less confusing world wide

"Join me tomorrow, May 30, at 1000 hrs MST for the Studio Q Show LIVE!
Come talk about the wet plate collodion process! We'll talk about technical problems, philosophical problems, and even ontological problems (if you want)."


This means my lawn mowing is delayed, first dry day in 9 days

paulbarden
30-May-2020, 06:30
Just noticed on FB Quinn has a live event at 1000 MTS time, perhaps we all should switch to Zulu time as it's less confusing world wide

"Join me tomorrow, May 30, at 1000 hrs MST for the Studio Q Show LIVE!
Come talk about the wet plate collodion process! We'll talk about technical problems, philosophical problems, and even ontological problems (if you want)."


This means my lawn mowing is delayed, first dry day in 9 days

Grass can wait.

Quinn has been doing these live Q&A broadcasts for a few months now, in part to remain “social” in a time that in-person interactions aren’t possible in the normal way, and in part to help promote the book. (I genuinely believe Quinn’s motivation is primarily the former) These broadcasts are typically 90 minutes long, give or take, and he’s been doing many of them via Zoom, so people can participate in a classroom style manner.

Quinn has decades of experience in the wet plate collodion process - he knows what he’s doing. He knows how to guide a novice through the learning phase to get consistently good work, and how to avoid the common mistakes a new practitioner is inclined to make. In the video Q&A sessions, he has a very casual, conversational style, and that makes him accessible. But he’s also a bit inclined to ramble (and he knows it) so it takes some effort on the part of the viewer to sort and digest the information he’s presenting. But trust me, it’s worth it. Not everyone appreciates his style, but he’s personable and committed to helping people learn. That counts for a lot. I suggest you tune in for an episode and decide for yourself!

paulbarden
30-May-2020, 06:49
I added the recommended drops of nitric acid to my first bath, about 500ml in a Lund 5x7 tank. All looked very good. In February I bought a Lund 8x10 tank that holds 1.5L. I dumped the 500ml in and mixed up 1L new silver solution and dumped it all together. The tins didn't seem as crisp and the contrast seemed lower. I couldn't figure out what was going on all of a sudden. Then I remembered I had not added any additional nitric acid. I checked pH and it was around 6. I added about a dozen drops of acid until the pH was about 4.5. There is a subtle but noticeable difference in the tins now--more crisp. Many "instructors" tell you to add the acid but don't over do it. Frem what I remember John Coffer and Mark Osterman recommend the acid drops, but apparently Quinn does not.


Kent in SD

There’s a couple of things going on here: if you mix a previously used silver bath with a new bath then you’ve got a silver bath that’s 2/3 virgin silver in there. The contrast isn’t going to be the same as the well-used bath. After you’ve made a few plates, the performance would improve: a brand new silver bath tends to be low in contrast and more inclined to fogging. By adding a bit more nitric acid, you “sped up” that process. Adding acid to a new silver bath Isn’t wrong, but it isn’t always necessary. In Kent’s case, the evidence suggested it would help set the bath straight, and it did.

So why do some practitioners not recommend it? In many instances it’s just not necessary: most brand new silver baths are closer to pH 5.0 when made than what Kent experienced. (Most purchased distilled water is already mildly acidic, did you know?) It’s useful to know the pH of the bath beforeadding nitric acid by default, because if you start with a bath at pH 5, and add more acid, you’re likely to end up with an excessively acidic bath. That will have two effects: your plates will be very contrasty, and your plates will be much less light sensitive (a much lower ASA). It’s best to avoid both of these conditions, especially the latter. So, I don’t recommend blindly adding nitric acid to a virgin silver bath without testing its pH first. It may be quite unnecessary.

Two23
30-May-2020, 06:51
PH is likely very important, water may have a PH variable

But I really don't know yet

Found this video, Ari, 'liked' it 5 years ago

Mixing Silver Nitrate for Wetplate Collodion Photography

https://youtu.be/UXV_OIDkNY4

Only use DISTILLED water for mixing silver
I use distilled water for all chemicals.

Kent in SD

Tin Can
30-May-2020, 07:04
Me too, and drink it

I have 30 gallons on hand, always


Only use DISTILLED water for mixing silver
I use distilled water for all chemicals.

Kent in SD

paulbarden
30-May-2020, 07:38
PH is likely very important, water may have a PH variable

But I really don't know yet

Found this video, Ari, 'liked' it 5 years ago

Mixing Silver Nitrate for Wetplate Collodion Photography

https://youtu.be/UXV_OIDkNY4

Funny to make an 8 minute video demonstrating something that can be illustrated in 2 minutes or less.

The person who made that video omitted something from the demo that could lead to misinterpretation: after testing pH and bottling up his AgNO3 solution, he says it’s ready for making the first plate. That is not quite correct! Before making plates with a brand new silver bath, it must be “excited” by introducing iodides and bromides. This is done by pouring collodion on a cleaned plate of glass and putting it in the silver bath for 6-10 hours (overnight is what most people do). This allows the iodides/bromides to leach into the bath and kick start the process. A new bath put into service without this priming step will produce very poor plates; low contrast, fogging, etc.

So I find it a bit misleading in that video to suggest the new bath is ready to be put into service. Some people will interpret thus to mean it is 100% ready to go, which it is not. It must have salted collodion introduced into it to “excite” the bath. Don’t skip this step or you’ll make some really bad plates at the start!

goamules
30-May-2020, 08:08
It's the Misinformation Highway. Everyone is an expert, except they're not. But they want to be. But they're not..... rinse and repeat.

That's why I liked Coffer's Doer's Guide. It was hand written back when I learned, and xeroxed hard copy to you! He drew little pictures to explain points. He had a "mythbusters" thing going for a while, when the internet "experts" started to raise their heads....after 2 months of doing wetplate. Or worse, after just reading about it then commenting to newbie questions with wrong answers.

Later, Coffer added some DVDs that show him doing things, because a picture is worth a thousand words. And a moving picture a million. They were great, he's sitting in a tent, old cork top bottles all around, and a chicken walks under his feet as he's talking!

drewf64
30-May-2020, 08:51
Quick follow up to the posts re: albumenizing the plate edges .......
Some people, my self included, choose to albumenize the ENTIRE plate as recommended by Quinn Jacobson, for situations where you will be RE-DEVELOPING glass plate negatives to achieve additional density.
Because the albumen layer is very thin and difficult to see, I "round" (with sandpaper or stone) the upper right hand corner in the way similar to film notch cutting.
*** When I hold the plate in portrait orientation with the rounded corner in the upper right position, the albumenized side (and later the emulsion side) is facing me.
Takes two minutes to do when cutting the plate & sanding edges and quickly confirms which side is up/down.

Tin Can
30-May-2020, 08:56
My plan is still the one Garrett recommended, use one source for edumacation, at first I was going Coffer, now spent my $75 on Quinn

Waiting patiently for the Book of Quinn and in 5 minutes watching interactive live feed Quinn, I pointed to earlier


It's the Misinformation Highway. Everyone is an expert, except they're not. But they want to be. But they're not..... rinse and repeat.

That's why I liked Coffer's Doer's Guide. It was hand written back when I learned, and xeroxed hard copy to you! He drew little pictures to explain points. He had a "mythbusters" thing going for a while, when the internet "experts" started to raise their heads....after 2 months of doing wetplate. Or worse, after just reading about it then commenting to newbie questions with wrong answers.

Later, Coffer added some DVDs that show him doing things, because a picture is worth a thousand words. And a moving picture a million. They were great, he's sitting in a tent, old cork top bottles all around, and a chicken walks under his feet as he's talking!

Tin Can
30-May-2020, 09:07
Seems I lost Quinn on FB

Can't find him now, searching shows he has migrated a bit this year

Maybe next time

paulbarden
30-May-2020, 09:23
Quick follow up to the posts re: albumenizing the plate edges .......
Some people, my self included, choose to albumenize the ENTIRE plate as recommended by Quinn Jacobson, for situations where you will be RE-DEVELOPING glass plate negatives to achieve additional density.
Because the albumen layer is very thin and difficult to see, I "round" (with sandpaper or stone) the upper right hand corner in the way similar to film notch cutting.
*** When I hold the plate in portrait orientation with the rounded corner in the upper right position, the albumenized side (and later the emulsion side) is facing me.
Takes two minutes to do when cutting the plate & sanding edges and quickly confirms which side is up/down.

This is a perfectly good approach to albumenizing a glass plate, yes.

One note: if you plan to redevelop the plate using the iodine rehalogenation method Quinn advocates, you can do it without albumenizing the whole plate if you use Ferrous sulfate in the redeveloper formula rather than Pyrogallic acid. This is because Pyrogallic acid tends to shrink the collodion, whereas the Ferrous sulfate does not.
Ive used the iodine redevelopment process (with Ferrous sulfate) on my negatives without any issues, and a thin band of albumen on the outer edges of the glass is sufficient to hold the collodion on the glass.

drewf64
30-May-2020, 09:57
This is a perfectly good approach to albumenizing a glass plate, yes.

One note: if you plan to redevelop the plate using the iodine rehalogenation method Quinn advocates, you can do it without albumenizing the whole plate if you use Ferrous sulfate in the redeveloper formula rather than Pyrogallic acid. This is because Pyrogallic acid tends to shrink the collodion, whereas the Ferrous sulfate does not.
Ive used the iodine redevelopment process (with Ferrous sulfate) on my negatives without any issues, and a thin band of albumen on the outer edges of the glass is sufficient to hold the collodion on the glass.

Thanks, Paul ... great heads-up!
I will try the ferrous sulfate after I run down my pyro supply!
Drew

paulbarden
31-May-2020, 10:52
Thanks, Paul ... great heads-up!
I will try the ferrous sulfate after I run down my pyro supply!
Drew

Drew, bear in mind that FeSO4 and Pyrogallic acid behave differently in a redeveloper formula, the latter being a staining agent more than a reducing agent. I have personally only used FeSO4 in the redeveloper and found it works very well, but Quinn advocates for Pyrogallic acid, as he feels it gives a slightly more nuanced result. I can't speak to that, but my negatives are rich in tonality and deliver plenty of nuanced values. Here is a scan of a recent glass negative, redeveloped using FeSO4 redeveloper: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49936123887_83c126e761_k.jpg

Two23
31-May-2020, 11:24
I've been using the ferrous sulfate and it works well for me, once I figured it out. Last month I bought some copper developer and tried it. I love the color but have yet to get a good result. I went back to the ferrous sulfate.


Kent in SD

paulbarden
31-May-2020, 11:35
I've been using the ferrous sulfate and it works well for me, once I figured it out. Last month I bought some copper developer and tried it. I love the color but have yet to get a good result. I went back to the ferrous sulfate.


Kent in SD

Kent, I am referring to FeSO4 in a REdeveloper formula, not a developer. A redeveloper is something done to a glass negative after processing, fixing and washing to build additional density on the plate. This is generally done to make the negative more suitable for albumen and salt printing, as these POP processes require a lot of density in upper values to make a good print.

drewf64
1-Jun-2020, 18:00
Drew, bear in mind that FeSO4 and Pyrogallic acid behave differently in a redeveloper formula, the latter being a staining agent more than a reducing agent. I have personally only used FeSO4 in the redeveloper and found it works very well, but Quinn advocates for Pyrogallic acid, as he feels it gives a slightly more nuanced result. I can't speak to that, but my negatives are rich in tonality and deliver plenty of nuanced values. Here is a scan of a recent glass negative, redeveloped using FeSO4 redeveloper: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49936123887_83c126e761_k.jpg

Paul:
The tonality of this negative is incredible!! I have admired your work in FB Collodion sites many times ... Outstanding work!

*** Yesterday I asked two questions in Kent's "The Fisherman" post as a follow-up to the advise that you detailed for Exposing & Developing Collodion POSITIVE plates. (my questions are in post #8.) I am not sure that i posted in the best location ...
* I am looking for help for exposing & developing collodion NEGATIVES.
1. What would be your recommended starting developing time for collodion negatives?
2. What starting exposures would you recommend for:
A. Direct sun portraits? and
B. Open shade with north light for portraits?
3. Additionally, is it reasonable to "lock in" this developing time and adjust exposure to achieve desired density? (in the same manner that you advised for Positives ...)
I am new to wet plate: making only negatives (to make albumen prints); using a B&S wet plate collodion kit; diluting the developer 1:5 (per their guide); 300mm CZ Jena Tessar f4.5 lens.
*** I have been all over the place with exposures and developing times ... I need to re-group and re-start with a fixed developing time!
Thank you!
Drew

paulbarden
1-Jun-2020, 20:45
Paul:
The tonality of this negative is incredible!! I have admired your work in FB Collodion sites many times ... Outstanding work!

*** Yesterday I asked two questions in Kent's "The Fisherman" post as a follow-up to the advise that you detailed for Exposing & Developing Collodion POSITIVE plates. (my questions are in post #8.) I am not sure that i posted in the best location ...
* I am looking for help for exposing & developing collodion NEGATIVES.
1. What would be your recommended starting developing time for collodion negatives?
2. What starting exposures would you recommend for:
A. Direct sun portraits? and
B. Open shade with north light for portraits?
3. Additionally, is it reasonable to "lock in" this developing time and adjust exposure to achieve desired density? (in the same manner that you advised for Positives ...)
I am new to wet plate: making only negatives (to make albumen prints); using a B&S wet plate collodion kit; diluting the developer 1:5 (per their guide); 300mm CZ Jena Tessar f4.5 lens.
*** I have been all over the place with exposures and developing times ... I need to re-group and re-start with a fixed developing time!
Thank you!
Drew

Hi Drew, sorry I missed your questions yesterday!

1. recommended developing time for negatives: I see you are using the Bostick & Sullivan kit, and I recall that it includes its house brand of developer concentrate, yes? I used to use it, but I don't remember the dilution and development times. I do know it recommended a much longer development time for both positives and negatives than a standard recipe dictates. They recommend up to 60 seconds for positives, right? Something like that. The thing is, the B&S developer uses both Glacial Acetic Acid and Sugar as restrainers, so it can be on the plate far longer than what you would do with a standard developer. If I remember correctly, I found 30 seconds for positives was ideal with the B&S recipe, and at least 60 seconds for negatives. These days I make up developers from scratch, because there are circumstances where you need to tweak the formula to get best results (in warmer weather, for example: you need more restrainer). But there's nothing wrong with the B&S developer. I suggest you follow their instructions, but lean toward the shorter times.

2. Exposure times: You need to find your own method for determining exposure times. A lot depends on what lenses you use, etc., and your exposure technique has to be tailored to your equipment. But I can tell you this: I gave up trying to use a light meter two years ago. The best thing is to learn to make informed guesses. You can either make a "test strip" plate first, if you are really unfamiliar with the lighting conditions, or simply take a guess, make the plate, and then evaluate it and adjust for the next plate. I've never made portraits in full sun (I dislike the light qualities), and in open north shade I find I typically get exposures between 5 and 30 seconds with a lens in the f3.5 to f5.0 range. Trial and error will get you acquainted with exposures!

3. Developing negatives: You will have a bit of leeway when developing negatives, since there is more restrainer/less FeSO4 in a negative developer, and that lets you leave the developer on the plate longer, if needed. With the developer formula I generally use, it lets me develop a good plate in as little as 30 seconds, or as long as 90 seconds, but I generally aim for 60. Is it a good idea to standardize your development time for negatives, and adjust exposure to fit? Yes, definitely. If you start out using the same "middle ground" development time every plate, and adjust exposure to fit that time, you will learn how to produce consistent work far faster than someone who is always adjusting development to fit the exposure.

I think you'll find you learn more and advance your technique faster if you stick with the optimal development time, and make everything else fit that time.
I look forward to seeing your work. That Tessar will be a pleasure to work with!

Paul

Tin Can
2-Jun-2020, 05:40
Paul, would you say the B&S kit I bought was a mistake?

Meaning should I have simply 'mixed' all chemistry myself?

If so, which one data source (book) is best to follow?

Lastly, it is impossible for me to take a class in person anywhere, which most recomend.

cuypers1807
2-Jun-2020, 06:14
Using the B&S kit to start is a smart move. There are so many variables in wet plate. Knowing the chemistry is mixed properly allows you to just focus on technique.

paulbarden
2-Jun-2020, 07:01
Paul, would you say the B&S kit I bought was a mistake?

Meaning should I have simply 'mixed' all chemistry myself?

If so, which one data source (book) is best to follow?

Lastly, it is impossible for me to take a class in person anywhere, which most recomend.

Not at all! The B&S kit is ideal for a new practitioner. It’s what I bought when I started wet plate three years ago (in fact, almost exactly three years, to the day) Why is it ideal, when it seems everyone eventually moves on to making their own chemistry?

Because the Bostick & Sullivan kit spells everything out very clearly in their instructions, making a tricky process appear as simple as possible. Not all of the techniques The B&S kit describes follow traditional protocol (the use of amino silane, and their somewhat unusual proprietary developer recipe, for example) but their kit helps make it easier for someone learning for the first time.

The B&S developer is a good example - t’s a Ferrous sulfate developer, which is traditional, but it is a concentrate that uses two restrainers rather than one: a chemical restrainer (Acetic acid) and a physical restrainer (the sugar). Why do they use two restrainers? It allows the user to leave the developer on the plate far longer than they normally can if using a traditional developer recipe. That is a very useful thing for a beginner! Applying the developer can be one of the most difficult aspects of the process: it’s not easy to flow developer evenly and quickly, and have it remain on the plate for only 12-15 seconds! (And the larger the plate, the greater a challenge this is. I definitely recommend sticking with smaller sizes at first, like 4x5) So if you have 60 seconds to work the developer on the plate using the B&S formula, then you have more time to distribute the developer over the entire surface without leaving bare spots on the plate (which will result in blank black regions). I won’t kid you, flowing developer on the plate quickly and evenly, without spilling it off the plate is a real dexterity trick, but it can be learned. It might be helpful to practice with a bare aluminum plate and water, just to get a sense of what has to happen. Of course, the physics of using the real materials is different, but at least you can get an idea how the action works.

One thing I will add to my comments about the B&S kit is this: they ship you Old Workhorse collodion, and it’s an excellent recipe that will give you good results used as either a positive collodion or a negative collodion: it’s versatile. However it does have one drawback: of all the collodion recipes, Old Workhorse is the most difficult to evaluate visually during the plate development. With most recipes of collodion, you can see how the development is progressing and make split second decisions whether to arrest development at (for example) 45 seconds rather than 60 seconds (using the B&S developer). Old Workhorse doesn’t exhibit visual evidence of the development as conspicuously as some recipes do. This isn’t a huge issue, but I wanted to mention this because as your skills progress, you may want to buy (or assemble for yourself) a different recipe that will let you see more clearly how the plate development progresses. It’s a minor point, but something you may want to be aware of as you proceed. This is yet another reason to try to standardize the development time during your early learning phase. If you eliminate development time as a variable, you’ll understand the exposure component much more easily and you’ll get good results more reliably.

Eventually you will likely want To make your own chemistry from the component ingredients, but not everyone does and that’s okay. Opting to buy premixed chemistry doesn’t make you any less of a wet plater.


Using the B&S kit to start is a smart move. There are so many variables in wet plate. Knowing the chemistry is mixed properly allows you to just focus on technique.

I agree. This is a good reason to stick with prepared chemistry from one of several reliable suppliers. My personal choice is Brian Cuyler at UV Photographics. He offers several variants of collodion recipes, varnish formulas, and developers. You can explore DIY chemistry later, when you feel confident in your techniques.

As for which resource is “best” to use as a guide to making your own chemistry, I think that’s somewhat arbitrary. I have three manuals in my library: the Osterman manual for beginners, both the 2015 and 2019 editions of Quinn Jacobson’s books, and John Coffer’s manual. The Osterman book is the most basic of them all, and it doesn’t offer instruction beyond making positive images on glass or aluminum. It’s an excellent beginners book, but if you want to make negatives and prints (albumen, salt, aristotypes, etc.) then you’ll need a more expanded guide. Both Coffer and Jacobson offer far more information in that regard. Both ‘The Doer’s Guide’ and ‘Chemical Pictures’ go into great detail about wet plate related processes like POP print making, glass negatives, etc. and both provide hours of video instruction to help you get acquainted with the processes.

Both Coffer and Jacobson guide books are excellent. In a way, their biggest difference is in their teaching style. John Coffer is definitely more of a “character” in his approach to teaching, but he knows how to deliver good content. So does Quinn - he’s just a bit more formal. I find I use both of their manuals at times, since both contains unique information relevant to how I work. Could you get by with just one or the other? Yes, absolutely. But I would recommend Quinn’s 2019 edition of Chemical Pictures if you want to pursue making POP prints from negatives: he provides instruction for a variety of POP techniques, whereas John Coffer only talks about Albumen Prints.

You won’t go wrong with either the Jacobson manual or the Coffer guide. I’ve got both and I find value in each, but if you have to pick just one, either will get you where you want to go.

Tin Can
2-Jun-2020, 07:04
Good to know

I am waiting for the Quinn book ordered from Amazon 5 days ago, must be print to order and maybe have it June 5th

I am one of Amazon's best customers, since...no data...

Tin Can
2-Jun-2020, 07:08
Paul , I will standardize asap

As always

Thanks for the reply

paulbarden
2-Jun-2020, 07:29
Paul , I will standardize asap

As always

Thanks for the reply

Happy to be of service. I’m available to answer questions as they arise!

paulbarden
2-Jun-2020, 09:38
Good to know

I am waiting for the Quinn book ordered from Amazon 5 days ago, must be print to order and maybe have it June 5th

I am one of Amazon's best customers, since...no data...

I doubt Quinn's 2020 edition Amazon is offering is "print on demand" since the item sis stated as being "in stock" for immediate shipping.

drewf64
2-Jun-2020, 10:01
Hi Drew, sorry I missed your questions yesterday!

1. recommended developing time for negatives: I see you are using the Bostick & Sullivan kit, and I recall that it includes its house brand of developer concentrate, yes? I used to use it, but I don't remember the dilution and development times. I do know it recommended a much longer development time for both positives and negatives than a standard recipe dictates. They recommend up to 60 seconds for positives, right? Something like that. The thing is, the B&S developer uses both Glacial Acetic Acid and Sugar as restrainers, so it can be on the plate far longer than what you would do with a standard developer. If I remember correctly, I found 30 seconds for positives was ideal with the B&S recipe, and at least 60 seconds for negatives. These days I make up developers from scratch, because there are circumstances where you need to tweak the formula to get best results (in warmer weather, for example: you need more restrainer). But there's nothing wrong with the B&S developer. I suggest you follow their instructions, but lean toward the shorter times.

2. Exposure times: You need to find your own method for determining exposure times. A lot depends on what lenses you use, etc., and your exposure technique has to be tailored to your equipment. But I can tell you this: I gave up trying to use a light meter two years ago. The best thing is to learn to make informed guesses. You can either make a "test strip" plate first, if you are really unfamiliar with the lighting conditions, or simply take a guess, make the plate, and then evaluate it and adjust for the next plate. I've never made portraits in full sun (I dislike the light qualities), and in open north shade I find I typically get exposures between 5 and 30 seconds with a lens in the f3.5 to f5.0 range. Trial and error will get you acquainted with exposures!

3. Developing negatives: You will have a bit of leeway when developing negatives, since there is more restrainer/less FeSO4 in a negative developer, and that lets you leave the developer on the plate longer, if needed. With the developer formula I generally use, it lets me develop a good plate in as little as 30 seconds, or as long as 90 seconds, but I generally aim for 60. Is it a good idea to standardize your development time for negatives, and adjust exposure to fit? Yes, definitely. If you start out using the same "middle ground" development time every plate, and adjust exposure to fit that time, you will learn how to produce consistent work far faster than someone who is always adjusting development to fit the exposure.

I think you'll find you learn more and advance your technique faster if you stick with the optimal development time, and make everything else fit that time.
I look forward to seeing your work. That Tessar will be a pleasure to work with!

Paul



Thank you for your detailed reply, Paul ... GREATLY appreciated!!
* I will lock in a development time and progress from there!
* One of your comments in reply to Tin Can's question earlier today about the B&S supplies was particularly enlightening as I am using a B&S kit with developer diluted 1:5 for negatives as per their directions along with their collodion mixture.
I have been having trouble seeing ANY image come up at times ... so I just kept increasing exposure and/or increasing development time. Of course, this effort has not been productive and served only to confuse me!
Good to know that that is a characteristic of the B&S Ol' Workhorse Collodion.
* Does the Coffer Ol' Workhorse Collodion perform in this way as well or is the recipe somehow different??
* Which of the many Collodion recipes out there are best suited for NEGATIVES? Coffer #7? Jacobson "negative" formula? UVP - xxx? I shoot with natural light only, 80% in open shade/North sky light.
THANK YOU !!
Drew

goamules
2-Jun-2020, 10:22
The issue of an image not appearing very much is not related to the formula. It's related to how old the formula is, as well as possibly how old it's component raw collodion. I've seen this many times before (no pun) with my own home made Old Workhorse. It will show a strong, vivid blue image under development when it is fresh. 3-4 months later it's dim. A few months later you have to just guess when to stop. But the image quality is about the same. I don't know why this happens, but by the time it does for me, I know my exposure times and it's not an issue. But trust me, if you make a batch with fresh collodion and when it's just beginning to ripen (2 weeks is prime), it will show a very strong image developing. Here is some of my fresh Old Workhorse:

https://live.staticflickr.com/2939/14352756082_901248a8fa_c.jpg

In a nutshell - they sent you an old batch (or the two parts have old collodion in Part A), or it got too aged. B&S makes great kits though, I reviewed them a few years ago for an article.

There are tricks to revive it...too much to go into here. Also, keep it cold when not being used. It only lasts a few weeks at room temp, but can last a year if kept cold.

paulbarden
2-Jun-2020, 10:24
Thank you for your detailed reply, Paul ... GREATLY appreciated!!
* I will lock in a development time and progress from there!
* One of your comments in reply to Tin Can's question earlier today about the B&S supplies was particularly enlightening as I am using a B&S kit with developer diluted 1:5 for negatives as per their directions along with their collodion mixture.
I have been having trouble seeing ANY image come up at times ... so I just kept increasing exposure and/or increasing development time. Of course, this effort has not been productive and served only to confuse me!
Good to know that that is a characteristic of the B&S Ol' Workhorse Collodion.
* Does the Coffer Ol' Workhorse Collodion perform in this way as well or is the recipe somehow different??
* Which of the many Collodion recipes out there are best suited for NEGATIVES? Coffer #7? Jacobson "negative" formula? UVP - xxx? I shoot with natural light only, 80% in open shade/North sky light.
THANK YOU !!
Drew

Hi Drew, good to hear from you!
Old Workhorse, no matter who makes it, is the same recipe and it behaves the same way whether you make it yourself (I do this) IR buy it from any one of several suppliers. It is just an unfortunate trait of this recipe. I used to find it very frustrating, watching for signs of shadow development, but then I just standardized the development time and things started to become clear.

Negative collodion recipes: I’ve used Coffer’s #7 and Quinn’s Negative Collodion. Both work very well. I’ve found that Coffer’s #7 ages very quickly and is much more inclined to produce unwanted artifacts around the plate edges once its 4-6 weeks old (and older). That may or may not be a problem, depending on your goals. Quinn’s recipe lasts much longer, is cheaper to make (fewer salts) and appears to have very similar traits to Coffer’s #7. You could easily choose either and get satisfactory results.
Since I always have some Old Workhorse available, I sometimes use that fir making negatives: it’s perfectly suitable for that, though John Coffer says that it makes a “softer” (less contrasty) negative than a formula specifically for negatives. In my experience, the differences are subtle. I have made many excellent negatives with Old Workhorse that I often redevelop or intensify as a final step.


The issue of an image not appearing very much is not related to the formula. It's related to how old the formula is, as well as possibly how old it's component raw collodion. I've seen this many times before (no pun) with my own home made Old Workhorse. It will show a strong, vivid blue image under development when it is fresh. 3-4 months later it's dim. A few months later you have to just guess when to stop. But the image quality is about the same. I don't know why this happens, but by the time it does for me, I know my exposure times and it's not an issue. But trust me, if you make a batch with fresh collodion and when it's just beginning to ripen (2 weeks is prime), it will show a very strong image developing.

In a nutshell - they sent you an old batch (or the two parts have old collodion in Part A), or it got too aged. B&S makes great kits though, I reviewed them a few years ago for an article.

I don't disagree with Garrett, but my own experience has not been much like his. I've made Old Workhorse from scratch myself, and the developing image is difficult to see (compared to many other recipes) no matter how new or old it is. Yes, it gets worse as the collodion ages, but I have not found it to be great even when quite fresh. Maybe its the developer recipe I use, I don't know. As I said, its not a major flaw and shouldn't deter people from using it. But if you prefer to work by being able to SEE the image forming on the plate as the developer does its job, then Old Workhorse may not be your best choice. My opinion, of course. YMMV

As regards the B&S collodion: they state on their web site about their Old Workhorse "We pre-mix this collodion and let it age for a couple of days before sending it out." I've bought it from them in my starter kit, and after the first batch got used up, and I can attest to the fact that what they ship is quite well aged, not just "a few days old": its deep red, which signifies that it has aged for (probably) a month or more. So unless their kits have changed significantly in the past three years, you can expect your Old Workhorse collodion is going to be quite ripe and will be difficult to judge by visual development.

Tin Can
2-Jun-2020, 10:49
Addendum...............Amazon is fast, the hydrometer I ordered Saturday is here now

The Quinn book just shipped now from South Carolina to be delivered Friday

That’s 7 days to ship an ‘in stock’ item

Who knows, it is coming...

I have made 82 orders in 6 months from old buddy Amazon

Most were very fast




I doubt Quinn's 2020 edition Amazon is offering is "print on demand" since the item sis stated as being "in stock" for immediate shipping.

Bill Rolph
2-Jun-2020, 11:41
I have a question regarding some intermittent soapy looking artifacts on my positive plates, made with the BS kit and trophy aluminium, such as on the two attached images. I'd appreciate any insight into what causes these. Thanks.
204405204406

drewf64
2-Jun-2020, 12:36
Hi Drew, good to hear from you!
Old Workhorse, no matter who makes it, is the same recipe and it behaves the same way whether you make it yourself (I do this) IR buy it from any one of several suppliers. It is just an unfortunate trait of this recipe. I used to find it very frustrating, watching for signs of shadow development, but then I just standardized the development time and things started to become clear.

Negative collodion recipes: I’ve used Coffer’s #7 and Quinn’s Negative Collodion. Both work very well. I’ve found that Coffer’s #7 ages very quickly and is much more inclined to produce unwanted artifacts around the plate edges once its 4-6 weeks old (and older). That may or may not be a problem, depending on your goals. Quinn’s recipe lasts much longer, is cheaper to make (fewer salts) and appears to have very similar traits to Coffer’s #7. You could easily choose either and get satisfactory results.
Since I always have some Old Workhorse available, I sometimes use that fir making negatives: it’s perfectly suitable for that, though John Coffer says that it makes a “softer” (less contrasty) negative than a formula specifically for negatives. In my experience, the differences are subtle. I have made many excellent negatives with Old Workhorse that I often redevelop or intensify as a final step.



I don't disagree with Garrett, but my own experience has not been much like his. I've made Old Workhorse from scratch myself, and the developing image is difficult to see (compared to many other recipes) no matter how new or old it is. Yes, it gets worse as the collodion ages, but I have not found it to be great even when quite fresh. Maybe its the developer recipe I use, I don't know. As I said, its not a major flaw and shouldn't deter people from using it. But if you prefer to work by being able to SEE the image forming on the plate as the developer does its job, then Old Workhorse may not be your best choice. My opinion, of course. YMMV

As regards the B&S collodion: they state on their web site about their Old Workhorse "We pre-mix this collodion and let it age for a couple of days before sending it out." I've bought it from them in my starter kit, and after the first batch got used up, and I can attest to the fact that what they ship is quite well aged, not just "a few days old": its deep red, which signifies that it has aged for (probably) a month or more. So unless their kits have changed significantly in the past three years, you can expect your Old Workhorse collodion is going to be quite ripe and will be difficult to judge by visual development.

Hello Garrett & Paul:

Thank you both for your insight and replies .... greatly appreciated and needed!!
You have both provided very valuable & interesting information.
I received and mixed the B&S kit about 4 weeks ago. The collodion was "straw yellow" on day one, became a deeper yellow after two weeks, and now, at four weeks, it is golden. No red.
Developer is diluted 1:5 as per their recipe for negatives.
The few times that I did get faint images were a few days ago and two weeks ago.
For the last two sessions I mixed fresh 1:5 developer and slightly used 1:5 developer (4-5 plates thru) 50 / 50. I do not see that this resulted in any increase in density on a finished negative plate and I had limited visibility of the density of the plate during development.
I have poured and developed 35 plates (4.5 x 6.5 inches) over this period, roughly four plates each session for 8 sessions.
The Collodion was pale yellow on day 1; deep yellow after two weeks; and golden now after a total of four weeks.
I am planning to lock in my NEGATIVE development time at two minutes and make a bunch of plates. Sound reasonable to you?
Need to cut another batch of glass down to size first!
Again .......... THANK YOU for your interest and assistance!
Drew

Two23
2-Jun-2020, 13:15
I've been keeping my collodion in a refrigerator and not had a problem. When out in the field and temp is over 75 I keep an ice pack in the cooler bag that has my chemicals. So, what's a good commercially available collodion for negatives?


Kent in SD

paulbarden
2-Jun-2020, 14:23
I've been keeping my collodion in a refrigerator and not had a problem. When out in the field and temp is over 75 I keep an ice pack in the cooler bag that has my chemicals. So, what's a good commercially available collodion for negatives?


Kent in SD

Lea Formula 7 is good for negatives, but it ages quite quickly: plan to use it up within two months.
UVP 4 is good for negatives also, and being a two cadmium recipe, it’s very slow to age and with proper storage can remain usable for many months.
Also formulated by UV Photographics is a proprietary “house blend” called UVP-X. It uses 2 bromides and 2 iodides which makes for faster collodion (about 1 stop faster than most other recipes). It is also a very stable recipe, so you can expect it to remain usable for about a year if stored properly (cool, dark). I recently finished a bottle of UVP-X that was 18 months old and still worked well! (Though it had lost some speed).

To a degree, collodion recipes just aren’t that different when it comes to results. However, the following is generally true about salted collodion recipes: the iodides in a recipe contribute to contrast, and the bromides help create more middle values. Though it may seem counterintuitive to say, positives (tintypes) don’t need to be as contrasty as negatives. So a collodion recipe for producing good negatives will typically have more iodide than bromide. But I must say that in my experience, all but the most extremely contrasty scenes will produce a negative that’s fairly low in contrast regardless of which collodion recipe you use, in which case they benefit from some intensification or (better still) re-development to build density and contrast.

What you need to decide once you’ve made a negative is: what will it be used for? if you’re going to scan it for post-processing, or make a traditional silver gelatin darkroom contact print from it, then you may not need to intensify/redevelop the negative. I’ve found a property exposed negative with good contrast will print on a grade 2 or grade 3 paper. But if you intend on printing your negative on albumen or salt paper (or even platinum/palladium) then the extra density achieved by redevelopment or intensification is pretty much mandatory. How you choose to make a negative is going to depend on how you’re going to use it. This is where Quinn’s book is going to be very helpful to you.

Also bear in mind that there are so many variables in the process that no two people will have exactly the same results when seemingly using the exact same techniques. Your output is going to depend on 1) the state of your silver bath (it’s age, pH, silver content, etc.), 2) your choice of developer, 3) your water quality, 4) temperature and humidity on any given day, 5) your choice of collodion, and it’s age, and of course 6) your technical proficiency. That’s a lot of variables. So take what advice I offer as being just “general recommendations”. What works for me may not work for your circumstances. A certain amount of trial and error is going to be needed for each practitioner to find their sweet spot.

PS: I hope you haven’t been storing collodion in a fridge that’s also used for food! No matter how tightly capped, a collodion bottle still leaks Ether fumes which can be absorbed by food items.

Tin Can
2-Jun-2020, 14:26
Good suggestion. I am getting 4 cold packs a month with my eye drops


I've been keeping my collodion in a refrigerator and not had a problem. When out in the field and temp is over 75 I keep an ice pack in the cooler bag that has my chemicals. So, what's a good commercially available collodion for negatives?


Kent in SD

Two23
2-Jun-2020, 14:34
PS: I hope you haven’t been storing collodion in a fridge that’s also used for food! No matter how tightly capped, a collodion bottle still leaks Ether fumes which can be absorbed by food items.


No. Stored in a small dorm sized refrigerator. I only keep a very small quantity--the B&S kit. Ether/collodion kind of makes me nervous. Have heard only good things about UVP-X. Will wait until I use up what I have before ordering a bottle though. I'm trying to minimize on hands.


Kent in SD

paulbarden
2-Jun-2020, 14:45
No. Stored in a small dorm sized refrigerator. I only keep a very small quantity--the B&S kit. Ether/collodion kind of makes me nervous. Have heard only good things about UVP-X. Will wait until I use up what I have before ordering a bottle though. I'm trying to minimize on hands.


Kent in SD

Yeah, I try to limit how much Collodion/Ether I have on hand at any given time, too.

204410
Seriously, I never store large amounts of Ether for long without either using it in a Collodion mix, or mixing 50/50 with Ethanol for long term storage. If you mix the Ether with Ethanol, it stabilizes the Ether and you no longer need to worry about creating explosive peroxides in your Ether. Its also very handy to have an Ether/Ethanol bottle available to add to a collodion that has become too viscous through evaporation of the solvents.