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Ari
9-Aug-2020, 06:06
Ahoy! I thought I'd add a specific place where we can troubleshoot.
As a first example, I've been getting ridges on some plates (not all of them).

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50200323003_6bc9633ac7_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2ju2M5p)

I was first told it's my collodion losing alcohol (I use the same bottle to pour excess back into).
So I added 40mL of alcohol to about 200mL of collodion, but the ridges still happen, though again, not every time. About 3 out of 4 plates.

Could it be my developer pour?
I use a tray. I place the plate at one end, I pour developer at the other end, then tilt the tray to wash developer over the plate.
Development is a constant 15s.

I clean my holder after each plate, wiping it down with a paper towel.

Any help appreciated, thanks.

Two23
11-Aug-2020, 18:43
I got a bunch of black spots on my last two tins so I decided to do some maintenance. I could see some nasty bits in the bottom of my collodion bottle, so instead of dumping it out I started a second bottle with new chemicals. I'll use the old bottle for test plates until it's gone, then clean it out really well. I decided that while I was at it I would filter my silver. So, I poured most of it into a 1,000ml beaker. Filter looked clean. I then shook what was left in the tank for awhile and then filtered it into a 500ml cylinder. There was some black bits in the filter when I did that. Obviously there was crud in the bottom of the tank. Maybe that was the problem? The tank would have been shaken around while I was driving and some black bits could still be in suspension. I checked specific gravity while I was at it, and it was right around 106.5 same as the last time I checked. I don't think it changes very quickly.

While I was messing with the silver, which I hate doing, I decided to top it off with some distilled water to bring the level back up. I poured about 100ml into the silver in the 500ml cylinder and it looked clear. I went to let the cat out and when I returned I saw there was a definite blue tint to the solution! Not a strong tint but obviously the Walmart distilled water I've been using isn't 100% pure. At that point I decided to sun all of it again. I poured it all into my big glass jar, put the nylon stocking over the top, and set it in the sun. Had to bring it in for the night but will stick it back out tomorrow. After a day in the sun I'll filter it again and put it back in the tank.

Finally, I mixed up some UVP brand copper developer. Instead of mixing it 1:1 I mixed it `1:2 as suggested by Brian at UVP. Will have to order more, along with some more collodion as I'm now out.


Kent in SD

Ari
11-Aug-2020, 19:54
Nice rundown of your problems and solutions, Kent.
After a while, this should become routine and part of a regular cycle of cleaning and maintenance.

After about 25-30 4x5 plates, I too "sunned" my silver, then filtered it. There was some collodion, but not much else, stuck in the filter.
SG was also at 1.065 after adding some distilled water.
I have a box full of raw chemicals, just waiting for me to finish the B&S chemicals, so I look forward to mixing my own stuff, though I'm not looking forward to dealing with the Cadmuim and Potassium.

Ari
11-Aug-2020, 20:01
By the way, just wanted add another photo with brief comment.
The ridges are still there, so I cleaned my holder very thoroughly, and will start practicing developer pouring/sweeping.
I'll forego the tray developing method to see if that's the problem, but I'm sure that will cause other problems that I'm already familiar with.
Anyway, here's a shot from 2 days ago:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50208114026_1260c52f2a_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2juHH5o)

I ran out of hypo, couldn't find my 5 gallons of Ilford Rapid Fix, so in a pinch, I used Photographer's Formulary TF-5 fixer.
I mixed it 1:9, a very weak solution. Despite that, it's a very contrasty fixer.
One plate that I forgot in the fixer for 5 minutes went black in areas, so I had to make sure to fix plates for only 3-4 minutes.

Anyone ever tried TF-5 on wet plate? It smells like regular hypo, but it most definitely adds more contrast.
Not sure I like it, but I was glad to have found some when I needed it.

John Layton
12-Aug-2020, 03:06
This will not be helpful...but I really love those artifacts! You might want to read some of the writings of Sally Mann about how such "mistakes" can add character and enhance context, depending on subject matter.

Again...my apologies for not being helpful!

Ari
12-Aug-2020, 08:44
I know what you mean, John.
I suppose I'd just like to be able to control the process a little more, and get clean plates when I want them.
If I don't want them, I can be sloppy and let the magic happen.
But I think there's more to this than mistakes and artifacts. My $0.02.

Ari
12-Aug-2020, 14:08
I'll follow up with examples later, but the ridges were due to my developer technique.
Today, I put the plate in the tray, pushed into a corner, then swept the developer over one edge of the plate in one quick motion.
I tried keeping developer on the plate as much as I could but some small undeveloped areas persist.
At least I found out what was wrong and now I gotta work on getting my technique down.
Thanks to all who helped!

paulbarden
12-Aug-2020, 15:22
Yep, I am not surprised that the marks you were getting were 90% the result of pour technique of the developer. Aim to get the whole plate covered within the first second of the pour, and worry less about some of it slopping over the edges. You can finesse the technique as you go.
I find it helpful to establish a set amount of developer needed for any given plate size. For 4x5's, I measure out 25ml of developer. That way, I know that I need to use the entire amount I have poured out, so its easier (in my mind) to quickly slop the entire contents of the beaker across the plate, which generally results in a very even, fast application of the developer with very little spill-over.

Ultimately, this is all about practicing the various actions and determining what kind of dexterity is required to execute each. It CAN be learned. (You're making excellent progress, I assure you)

PS: if getting the developer to stay on the plate (IE: prevent having it creep back from the sides) is an issue, then add a few more ml of alcohol to your developer, and see how the next plate works. Most times, the addition of a bit more alcohol (the surfactant) will prevent the devloper from creeping back from the edges, and also tends to give you a much better spread of developer during the initial pour.

Two23
12-Aug-2020, 15:35
I will add that when I pour on the developer, I'm using a small 100ml beaker. For 4x5 I use about 20 ml, for 8x10 35-40ml. When pouring, I don't use the built in spout but rather the opposite side of that. That spreads the fluid out in a sheet better. I hold the tin at a slight downward angle to get it moving across the tin and then level it. I then begin shaking it very aggressively side to side and then front to back. This forces developer over the spots not covered. Once I see the entire thing is covered I will slow the shaking down and just let it sit, watching the image take shape. Having lots of red light on the plate is important here. When it looks ready I quickly dump the developer off and drop it into the water tray.


Kent in SD

Ari
12-Aug-2020, 21:38
Thank you, Paul and Kent. Great stuff.
I'm doing about 95% of what you're saying, but as always, the devil is in the details. Thus the problems I was having.
As of today, my plates are starting to look like typical beginner developer pours, which I prefer over the ridges.

As always, when we eliminate one problem, another appears.
Now I'm getting vertical lines on my plates, more pronounced in the first plate:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50220804206_87381c3cca_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jvQKqA)

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50220153188_a4da5fd9bf_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jvMpU9)

Any ideas as to what it is? It's not in the scans, it's on the plates. I can't think of any equipment I have that would cause the lines.
My plates go in the silver bath the other way, i.e., horizontally.
I did keep the collodion cold, as it was very humid today. I had an ice pack in the cooler along with all the chemicals. Maybe the collodion was too cold?

Side note: I'm pleased with these plates, technically. While the development missed in spots, the rest is better.
I did no correction at all on these plates other than re-size them for the web.

paulbarden
13-Aug-2020, 07:55
Thank you, Paul and Kent. Great stuff.
I'm doing about 95% of what you're saying, but as always, the devil is in the details. Thus the problems I was having.
As of today, my plates are starting to look like typical beginner developer pours, which I prefer over the ridges.

As always, when we eliminate one problem, another appears.
Now I'm getting vertical lines on my plates, more pronounced in the first plate:
Any ideas as to what it is? It's not in the scans, it's on the plates. I can't think of any equipment I have that would cause the lines.
My plates go in the silver bath the other way, i.e., horizontally.
I did keep the collodion cold, as it was very humid today. I had an ice pack in the cooler along with all the chemicals. Maybe the collodion was too cold?

Side note: I'm pleased with these plates, technically. While the development missed in spots, the rest is better.
I did no correction at all on these plates other than re-size them for the web.

Ari, how long does it take for you to submerge the plate in the silver bath? More than one second? A 4x5 plate should be submerged in one second from start to finish, as long as you are not rushing/splashing it.
To be honest, these stripes look more like artifacts from the plate material itself. I assume this is black trophy plate? Is it bare metal on the reverse, or painted white? Do you wipe the surface with alcohol after peeling the plastic off and before pouring collodion? Have you changed brands of trophy plate? Have you tried the same image on the same day, but on glass? If you have an issue like this suddenly appear, do a control test by switching base materials: try one on glass.

Ari
13-Aug-2020, 09:54
Hi Paul,
It takes 1s or less, it's quick. It's black trophy plate, white paint on the back.
I don't usually wipe the peeled surface, though I think it's caused a problem once in the last 50 plates.
I haven't changed brands, it's the same batch of plates I bought from Lund.
I haven't changed anything, really, except the temperature of the chemicals due to the outside temperature, and my pouring technique.
I have no glass to compare it to, but I should make a couple plates today and will post them.
Thank you very much for your help.

paulbarden
14-Aug-2020, 08:02
Hi Paul,
It takes 1s or less, it's quick. It's black trophy plate, white paint on the back.
I don't usually wipe the peeled surface, though I think it's caused a problem once in the last 50 plates.
I haven't changed brands, it's the same batch of plates I bought from Lund.
I haven't changed anything, really, except the temperature of the chemicals due to the outside temperature, and my pouring technique.
I have no glass to compare it to, but I should make a couple plates today and will post them.
Thank you very much for your help.

I will not buy the trophy plate from Lund anymore. It introduces too many problems with streaks like what you're experiencing. That's why I asked if you were using the plates with the white backing. I've been told by other people that if you wipe the plate with alcohol after removing the plastic, you can (usually) eliminate the problem. But the longer your development time, the more like you are to see artifacts like streaks on the plate. Keep development times to 15 seconds or less, if you can. This will help you avoid those marks.

Please report back on your results! And good luck.

Paul

Two23
14-Aug-2020, 08:25
I've often suspected the plastic film leaves marks as it's pulled off. Will try the wipes.


Kent in SD

Ari
14-Aug-2020, 09:26
Ok, got it Paul. I had no idea about the Lund plates.
I just ordered 10 sheets of 24x48 aluminum from Main Trophy. It arrived very quickly, unfortunately they sent me the wrong finish (gold!).
I should have the right material by Tuesday, and I hope it won't cause trouble.
I still have about 40 4x5 plates from Lund, and they're not that troublesome.
I will shoot today, got a new lens to try out, and I'll report back.

PS - development time is always 15s, that's been a constant from the beginning, thanks to your suggestion 1-2 months ago.
I really stuck to that principle, since it's easier to adjust exposure in order to find out what's going wrong (if anything).

paulbarden
14-Aug-2020, 10:02
Ok, got it Paul. I had no idea about the Lund plates.
I just ordered 10 sheets of 24x48 aluminum from Main Trophy. It arrived very quickly, unfortunately they sent me the wrong finish (gold!).
I should have the right material by Tuesday, and I hope it won't cause trouble.
I still have about 40 4x5 plates from Lund, and they're not that troublesome.
I will shoot today, got a new lens to try out, and I'll report back.

PS - development time is always 15s, that's been a constant from the beginning, thanks to your suggestion 1-2 months ago.
I really stuck to that principle, since it's easier to adjust exposure in order to find out what's going wrong (if anything).

Ari, the issue with the streaking on Lund plate material seems to be intermittent (batches vary?) and dependent on the materials used, how they are used (development times) and whether or not the user cleans the black surface after removing the plastic covering. All I can suggest is: experiment with cleaning the surface before pouring collodion, and see what happens.
FWIW, I have never had these artifacts appear on the plates from Main Trophy, even when I have pushed my luck with long development times. It clearly seems to be an issue with the different manufacturers of trophy plate. This is why 95% of the work I do now is on glass, whether its negatives or ambrotypes. A good ambrotype backed with a really good black material (I've used UVP's Japan varnish, Rustoleum spray paint, black paper) has much better blacks (and therefore better contrast) than anything you will ever get from black trophy plate. And as a bonus, you won't have to deal with unwanted streaky artifacts.

I'm glad to hear you've adopted a policy of keeping your development time consistent! You will learn how to properly expose plates if you stick with the 15 second approach to development. Reducing the number of variables makes troubleshooting easier!

Ari
14-Aug-2020, 10:10
Many thanks, Paul.
If Main Trophy's aluminum reduces/eliminates some problems, I'm a happy guy.
Working with glass seems to be the natural progression, and I may adopt it eventually, if only to get rid of the annoying problems caused by aluminum.
Thanks again!

Ari
14-Aug-2020, 19:56
Here was my first plate of the day:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50227609961_903f50f04e_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jwrCxc)

Not the most inspiring composition, but a success in other areas, and mistakes elsewhere, notably:
A touch of green/yellow on the lower left side. The dreaded ridges came back, though not as bad.
Exposure was good, bright whites and good blacks.

The background and surrounding area look nothing like what they were at the time. And I was using a semi-modern, coated 210mm lens in shutter.
This is what I love about this process, the messy stuff that goes on around the point of focus, and how unpredictable it can be.

I made a rough helper tray, and instead of pouring water on the plate to stop development, I now fill a tray with water beforehand, then drop it in the water at exactly 15s of development time.
The timing is easier because of the helper tray, but it's messier in the dark box as a result. The helper tray really, uh...helps. A lot, in fact.\

After this plate, I kept getting solarized plates.
After the third plate, I realized I had mixed my fixer too weak. I mixed it thinking I'd make 400mL, but I made 1L in the end. Brain cramp on my part.
By then, I was exhausted and ready for a beer.

Two23
14-Aug-2020, 22:14
Huge improvement.


Kent in SD

paulbarden
15-Aug-2020, 06:45
Much better, Ari! Well done!

Ari
15-Aug-2020, 06:46
Thank you, guys. You've been a huge help.

Ari
19-Aug-2020, 20:21
Hey!
I've been keeping up with wet plate, and got some images to share.
I've been doing ok on my own, troubleshooting my way out of problems for a week now. But I'm at a loss to explain these plates.
Maybe someone can tell me what's happening.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50246873417_5a03ae7ec8_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jy9mTK)

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50246029968_6175939377_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jy53aw)

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50246873442_0f6023bc20_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jy9mUb)

The images are grainy-looking, if that's possible, and there's a sort of "craquelure" all over the plates.
Just earlier on, I'd filtered my silver bath and adjusted the SG to 1.07.
Outside it was 70 degrees, perfect weather for wet plate.

If I had shot film, I'd have thought these were developed at 10 degrees warmer than normal and agitated constantly.
But I have the same collodion, developer, silver, and fix as before.

paulbarden
20-Aug-2020, 14:22
Hey!
I've been keeping up with wet plate, and got some images to share.
I've been doing ok on my own, troubleshooting my way out of problems for a week now. But I'm at a loss to explain these plates.
Maybe someone can tell me what's happening.


The images are grainy-looking, if that's possible, and there's a sort of "craquelure" all over the plates.
Just earlier on, I'd filtered my silver bath and adjusted the SG to 1.07.
Outside it was 70 degrees, perfect weather for wet plate.

If I had shot film, I'd have thought these were developed at 10 degrees warmer than normal and agitated constantly.
But I have the same collodion, developer, silver, and fix as before.

Hi Ari.
Sorry to see you're still having difficulties.

I have not seen marks exactly like what you've got here. But it does remind me of some of the marks I got when using the Lund trophy plate material. I don't suppose you did any tests on glass as a control? I have a feeling this issue is related to the Lund plate material.

Ari
20-Aug-2020, 14:36
Hi Paul,
This is my control test, I'm using a different aluminum for these photos.
The mystery is compounded because I used this aluminum the day before, and did not get these results.
I suspect either I need further refining of my developer technique, and/or that every aluminum with a peel-off coating is bound to have some abnormalities for wet plate applications.

ghostcount
20-Aug-2020, 17:12
Can't offer a solution but note the direction of the striations are the same for each image.

Ari
20-Aug-2020, 17:38
Can't offer a solution but note the direction of the striations are the same for each image.

Yeah, Randy, I thought perhaps it was the aluminum.
But I just checked my finished plates, and the Lund plates show the same thing.
Finicky business, this wet plate.

ghostcount
20-Aug-2020, 18:00
Finicky business, this wet plate.

Just shoot film. (j/k :rolleyes: )

Try wiping down the plates with alcohol prior to pouring. I know the problem stated was specifically the Lund plates but if that helps we can assume similar problem. If you still get the same result, then change to a fresh collodion. To be sure, change one variable at a time.

Ari
20-Aug-2020, 18:06
Don't know if I could go back to film right now. It's too close to reality, who wants that? :)

Yup, will do that next time, Randy. You and Paul have both suggested it, I better get it done to see what's what.
I'm almost out of collodion, so it'll soon be time to mix up some more.
Thanks!

Ari
31-Aug-2020, 20:17
I shot my first 8x10 plate yesterday. Hoo boy, what an unholy mess.
I did one plate and left it at that because I quickly realized that I was working out of a dark box that was too narrow and too short.
Mistakes are everywhere, so it's hard to tell if my chemistry's ok (I mixed up a new silver bath for the 8x10 tank).

Anyway, what I find interesting in this image is the water drops on the left side. They seem to have been photographed and imprinted on the plate.
They have modelling and dimension.
I'd be interested in being able to re-create this effect again, on purpose.
Does anyone know, well, how I did it? Crop included below.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50292907987_98aa26227f_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jCdine)

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50292097583_2b11d84557_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jC99sK)

Two23
31-Aug-2020, 20:36
I've never seen anything like that. So, got the holder working?


Kent in SD

Ari
31-Aug-2020, 21:01
Holder works fine, thanks.
I added two small metal tabs on either side to keep the plate from getting too close to the dark slide.
When I find some glass or plastic of the right thickness, I'll switch out the metal tabs.

Willie
1-Sep-2020, 07:17
Looking at the striations/marks - are they 90 degrees from the direction you peel off the plastic protection material? In other words - marks up and down - did you peel off the coating side to side? When working with high end plexi for custom framing the direction of removal can leave striations like you are seeing with your plates. Means you have to clean the surface so the striations don't show up in some lighting situations.

Maybe - this is one of the causes?

paulbarden
1-Sep-2020, 09:19
Ari, I think the only possible way to achieve the 3D waterdrop marks is to expose the plate to white light before or during development, creating shadows of the water drops on the plate. I can't imagine how else this happened.

Ari
1-Sep-2020, 10:44
That sounds very plausible, Paul. The whole 8x10 plate experience was a comic fiasco, the dark box was way too small. I had the Benny Hill theme song in my head the whole time.
It was likely exposed to light a couple times in my struggle to gain control of an 8x10 plate inside of a shoebox.
The drops are the best part of this botched image, and I'd be happy to be able to control the effect more.

Mark Sawyer
1-Sep-2020, 12:05
Holder works fine, thanks.
I added two small metal tabs on either side to keep the plate from getting too close to the dark slide.
When I find some glass or plastic of the right thickness, I'll switch out the metal tabs.

If you're moving the plane of the plate, it may be out of registration with the ground glass.

Ari
1-Sep-2020, 12:27
Mark, no I didn't move the plane. The plate holder already has plastic bits at all four corners to keep the plate at the plane of focus.
But if the plate is bent, or bulges in the middle, it sticks out and gets scratched by the dark slide.
What I did was add two more "restraints", one on either side of the holder, halfway down each long side.
This has worked well to get rid of the scraping dark slide.

It's a Stenopeika holder, not a bad design, but not fully thought out in some areas.

goamules
2-Sep-2020, 13:40
Do you remember that old Kung Fu TV series? "When you can walk across the rice paper without tearing it, you are ready to go."

Same with wetplate. You shouldn't mess with 8x10s until you can reliably make quarterplates. Most photographers in the 1800s did thousands of 1/6 through 1/4 plates a year, and seldom messed with larger.

Ari
2-Sep-2020, 15:25
Do you remember that old Kung Fu TV series? "When you can walk across the rice paper without tearing it, you are ready to go."

Same with wetplate. You shouldn't mess with 8x10s until you can reliably make quarterplates. Most photographers in the 1800s did thousands of 1/6 through 1/4 plates a year, and seldom messed with larger.

I'm worried that one day I may actually perfect this process.

Two23
2-Sep-2020, 20:50
The blue box can handle up to 5x7 OK, but it's just too small for 8x10. You will need something bigger. The one I built using light proof drapery liner (I sent you a small piece) and PVC frame is plenty big enough. It's a step inside type which solves a lot of problems getting enough light to work by. It is very light and collapses into the plastic bin I used as a base.


Kent in SD

Ari
2-Sep-2020, 20:59
The blue box can handle up to 5x7 OK, but it's just too small for 8x10. You will need something bigger. The one I built using light proof drapery liner (I sent you a small piece) and PVC frame is plenty big enough. It's a step inside type which solves a lot of problems getting enough light to work by. It is very light and collapses into the plastic bin I used as a base.
Kent in SD

Yup, that's my next project. I have a bin, no time right now.
And thanks, I kept the fabric you sent for just such an occasion.

goamules
8-Sep-2020, 07:02
I'm worried that one day I may actually perfect this process.

Practice makes perfect. Most, but not all, will eventually be making very good plates. Perfection it hard to attain, There are about 37 steps to do that can all mess up a plate. I don't think I ever mastered all of them. Sandarac varnish for example, is very hard to make flawless. So I moved to synthetics. Tearing the emulsion with the dark slide can be overcome by very careful handling of the plate and slide, and having a good holder. But I still sometimes tear a small part, especially with old collodion. I guess that's the key: eventually you KNOW what is causing every problem. You just decide and triage which to work on, which to ignore.

paulbarden
8-Sep-2020, 11:10
The single change I made that led to near-perfect Sandarac varnish every time was: using a toaster oven. Prewar the plate at about 225F for 40 seconds, pour the Sandarac, drain, and return it to the toaster for 2.5 minutes or so. It’s so easy, and the results are almost always excellent.

goamules
10-Sep-2020, 08:08
Sounds good, I may try it. I know my main problems with Sandarac: not filtering the dust enough. I use a pour off bottle, but it seems you have to filter it even if it sits in a bottle for 6 months unopened. You also must varnish as soon as the plate dries. If you wait a day or two, pits. Other than that, most of my sandarac plates look good. And it sure lasts...I have one mounted outside on my porch that has been there about a decade. Still shiny and clear.