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Thread: Wet plate process not producing an image

  1. #1

    Wet plate process not producing an image

    Howdy folks! I'm new to the whole wet plate process but not to photography by any means. I've attempted the wet plate collodion process about 8 times with zero success. Can y'all help identify the issue?
    First off, I bought the wet plate collodion kit from Bostick & Sullivan. Mixed up the chems and got everything setup for tintypes. I'm using a Hasselblad 500 c/m with a modified Polaroid back to hold little aluminum plates. I pour my salted collodion on the black side of the plate and within 30 seconds I get it in my dark closet with red safelight and submerse it in the silver nitrate for 3-4 minutes. It looks like the plate turns hazy. After that, I load it in dark and go out to take my shot. I've tried multiple exposure times, all over 1 second in bright sunlight and/or artificial lighting. I head back to the closet and pour the developer over the plate. No matter how long I wait....nothing appears on the plate. Rinse it then try a fixer, just in case. Nothing. Black image with golden swirls or blobs. That's all.
    I tried testing the pH of my silver nitrate with the included strips and the color on the strips does not change at all. I'm suspecting the silver nitrate may be the issue but, since I'm new, maybe something in my process is bad?

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    First question

    are u sure the camera works with film

    others will join in soon

    i'm done
    wear mask or NOT

    is ???

  3. #3
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Did you peel off the plastic from the aluminum plate? Sorry, the most obvious question.
    Check your safelight. If it's ok, then look at exposure. What time of day are you shooting at?
    Run a test series with intervals of 5 or 10 seconds.
    Shoot a plate at 1 second, 5 seconds, and a third plate at 10s and so on, until you start getting an image.
    B&S chemicals are pretty reliable, so I'd start with checking your wet plate environment then testing exposure.
    If your silver is indeed suspect, contact B&S right away. They can check the batch number to see if anyone else reported problems.

  4. #4

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    I'm thinking I need to re-evaluate my darkroom situation, maybe? I've seen plenty of folks use cheap red LED strips in darkrooms and I've used them as well, but this is my first time with wet plate and those lights. Could that be an issue?
    I actually have been shooting in a test series as you mentioned. Shot from 1 second to 10 seconds in bright daylight and in artificial light. All to no avail.
    I reached out to B&S earlier today. Any thoughts on the pH test? Their instructions indicate that the color should change to be a pH of 3-5. I tried 3 strips and got no results. They just stayed the same colors.

  5. #5

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    First question

    are u sure the camera works with film

    others will join in soon

    i'm done
    It's a Hasselblad 500c/m...or was that a joke?

  6. #6
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Perhaps a gross overexposure? One second with an f/2 or 2.8 lens in bright sunlight would be too much.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  7. #7

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by blaine.hale View Post
    Howdy folks! I'm new to the whole wet plate process but not to photography by any means. I've attempted the wet plate collodion process about 8 times with zero success. Can y'all help identify the issue?
    First off, I bought the wet plate collodion kit from Bostick & Sullivan. Mixed up the chems and got everything setup for tintypes. I'm using a Hasselblad 500 c/m with a modified Polaroid back to hold little aluminum plates. I pour my salted collodion on the black side of the plate and within 30 seconds I get it in my dark closet with red safelight and submerse it in the silver nitrate for 3-4 minutes. It looks like the plate turns hazy. After that, I load it in dark and go out to take my shot. I've tried multiple exposure times, all over 1 second in bright sunlight and/or artificial lighting. I head back to the closet and pour the developer over the plate. No matter how long I wait....nothing appears on the plate. Rinse it then try a fixer, just in case. Nothing. Black image with golden swirls or blobs. That's all.
    I tried testing the pH of my silver nitrate with the included strips and the color on the strips does not change at all. I'm suspecting the silver nitrate may be the issue but, since I'm new, maybe something in my process is bad?
    Bright sunlight at what f-stop? If you're using f16 or smaller, the exposure could be up to ten seconds, possibly more. I suspect your exposures are not long enough. I made a glass collodion negative yesterday at 7AM in filtered bright sunlight and the exposure was 45 seconds at f-3.5

  8. #8

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    Bright sunlight at what f-stop? If you're using f16 or smaller, the exposure could be up to ten seconds, possibly more. I suspect your exposures are not long enough. I made a glass collodion negative yesterday at 7AM in filtered bright sunlight and the exposure was 45 seconds at f-3.5
    Been shooting only at f8. I'll try an exposure over 10 seconds and see what happens!

  9. #9
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Test strips with DS

    Quote Originally Posted by blaine.hale View Post
    Been shooting only at f8. I'll try an exposure over 10 seconds and see what happens!
    wear mask or NOT

    is ???

  10. #10

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Wow, it really was about exposure time. This shot was in shaded sunlight at f4 just a bit over 15 seconds.

    Click image for larger version. 

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