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Thread: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

  1. #1
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    Having ordered everything needed to start making tintypes (or more precisely, alumitypes), I'm now waiting impatiently for everything to arrive by COVID-19-affected mail.

    I'm starting with a Kodak 2D 8x10 camera, but I'll be shooting 4x5 plates for while, to get the hang of things.
    To that end, I'm waiting on an 8x10/4x5 reducing back for the 2D.

    I have a few Tessars (f/4.5) for 4x5 and a Wollensak Vesta for 8x10. I'd like to have a Petzval for 4x5, so if you have one, or suggestions on one, let me know.
    The B&S kit just arrived yesterday, so chemicals are a go.
    I'm going to use a converted Graflex pack film holder to shoot full-size 4x5 plates.
    Beakers, a scale and a dark box are also on the way, and I've been re-reading Quinn's 2014 version of "Chemical Pictures" for reference.
    Finally, the 108 4x5 aluminum plates I ordered from Lund should arrive tomorrow.
    My only remaining problem is a visiting mother in-law, who would disapprove of this with my daughter around, so I have to wait until she goes back home (couple days - max, I'm told).

    I started this thread so I could document my experiences, for better or worse, as I go through the learning process.
    It's open to any and all commentary, advice, suggestion, and vicarious shenanigans. Hopefully, the experts will pipe up at the most needed times.
    No cheap shots, please. I'm far too easy a target.

    It's also open to anyone who's charting a parallel course, and starting out in wet plate photography. It'd be great to compare and see what we're getting right and/or wrong.

    So let's see where this goes!

  2. #2
    ghostcount's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    Best wishes to your new adventure. I'll keep watching this thread.

    Good luck with MiL.
    "Sex is like maths, add the bed, subtract the clothes, divide the whoo hoo and hope you don't multiply." - Leather jacket guy

  3. #3
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    Thanks. Just got word she's leaving Saturday

  4. #4

    Re: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Ari View Post
    Having ordered everything needed to start making tintypes (or more precisely, alumitypes), I'm now waiting impatiently for everything to arrive by COVID-19-affected mail.

    I'm starting with a Kodak 2D 8x10 camera, but I'll be shooting 4x5 plates for while, to get the hang of things.
    Congrats on collating the materials you need for this new adventure, Ari! You're going to love it (and hate it, when things don't behave as expected), but it will be a fascinating journey for you, I'm sure. You're wise to start with 4x5s on aluminum first. 8x10s are exponentially more challenging, believe me.

    Sorry to hear the MIL wouldn't approve of your alchemist fiddlings - maybe a good snort of Ether will allay her fears? (kidding, of course)

  5. #5
    Zebra
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    Re: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    Ari,

    Spoken from experience DO NOT take your MIL's picture. Collodion is the anti-christ to graceful aging portraiture. I feel my work here is done.

    Monty

  6. #6
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    Thanks, Paul. She's fine, a little beer will take care of any lingering doubts, and she leaves Saturday, did I mention that?

    Monty, your contribution, although small, is perhaps the single most important piece of advice I've ever received.
    Thank you

  7. #7

    Re: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    I feel that as long as you stick with lab produced chemistry then WP is pretty easy... with one caveat, if your intention is to make PERFECT plates like the practitioners in those old days.

    I taught myself via YouTube fairly easily, at least from a tech side of things.

    Hard part is using the medium to make meaningful work.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    When you "season" the silver bath by letting a coated plate sit in it overnight, use a glass plate, not an aluminum plate. Silver nitrate will crystalize out on the aluminum and you'll be exhausting your silver. But that's not an issue for the few minutes the plates are in there when shooting.

    Good luck!
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  9. #9

    Re: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Monty McCutchen View Post
    Ari,

    Spoken from experience DO NOT take your MIL's picture. Collodion is the anti-christ to graceful aging portraiture. I feel my work here is done.

    Monty
    Monty is quite correct. Don't go there if your goal is to flatter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    When you "season" the silver bath by letting a coated plate sit in it overnight, use a glass plate, not an aluminum plate. Silver nitrate will crystalize out on the aluminum and you'll be exhausting your silver. But that's not an issue for the few minutes the plates are in there when shooting.

    Good luck!
    Also good advice. I'm pretty sure Quinn states this very clearly in the book: use glass for the seasoning plate, always.

  10. #10
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate - A Beginner's Experience

    Thanks, guys.
    Mark, that's gold! As I'm only a week away from getting going, I'll get a hold of some glass for this purpose.
    Paul, I was just reading about this in Quinn's book today, but he didn't specify using glass. Maybe he does in another chapter, or in another edition of the book.
    And sadly, or maybe it's for the best, there's nothing I can do to make my MIL dislike me more. I did marry her daughter, after all.
    Dan, I'd like to pour clean plates like those I've seen here from Paul, Monty, Mark and Garrett (and others). Not interested in the art-ifacts.
    And yes, as with any photographic pursuit, it comes down to "So what do you have to say?" That question is always on my mind, and will be while I work out the technical side of things.

    Today, I received the 8x10/4x5 reducing back. It needs a little work to make it fit the 2D because it's a B&J back. Just a couple pins need to be moved, which means epoxy and waiting for that to cure overnight.
    The extension rail also arrived today, as did some small timers, a digital scale and two boxes of gloves. I'm set!
    All I need now are the plates from Lund, which should be here Tuesday/Wednesday.

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