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Thread: Wet plate process not producing an image

  1. #11
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    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by blaine.hale View Post
    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.
    The pH strips could be old and no longer active. If they were shipped loose and not in a sealed container that's my guess. Most likely problem is your safe life isn't, or you have a light leak somewhere, or you're not using the camera properly. Try this: put the shutter on timed setting so you KNOW it's open. Insert holder, cover lens with your hand. Pull darkslide and remove hand. For bright daylight I suggest f4 and 2s. Replace your hand to block lens, replace dark slide.
    When pouring developer I suggest having plate in a small tray for first attempts. Pour developer into tray but not directly on plate. Tray at angle so developer runs over plate. Should see an image start in 5s or so. Chemicals are likely not the problem.


    Kent in SD
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  2. #12

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Thank you everyone for the help!
    Any tips on cutting down on all the cloudiness and white hazy swirls? I assume that's just getting better with my collodion pour and development pour?

  3. #13
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by blaine.hale View Post
    Any tips on cutting down on all the cloudiness and white hazy swirls? I assume that's just getting better with my collodion pour and development pour?
    That's all technique, practice, keeping things clean, etc etc which is a refinement I'm also working on.
    Those 6x6cm plates look very nice!

  4. #14

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by Ari View Post
    That's all technique, practice, keeping things clean, etc etc which is a refinement I'm also working on.
    Those 6x6cm plates look very nice!
    Thank you! I don't have any large format cameras yet so I decided to work with what I've got and I love my Hasselblad! Just glue 2 little strips of plastic in a polaroid back and use a sponge to press the plate against the glass.

  5. #15

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by blaine.hale View Post
    Wow, it really was about exposure time. This shot was in shaded sunlight at f4 just a bit over 15 seconds.

    Attachment 206545
    That's what I thought. Glad to see you're getting results now! Awesome.

  6. #16

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by blaine.hale View Post
    Thank you everyone for the help!
    Any tips on cutting down on all the cloudiness and white hazy swirls? I assume that's just getting better with my collodion pour and development pour?
    There's nothing wrong with your collodion pour technique. Those swirly marks are contaminated silver from a previous plate making their way onto the surface of the plate and developing out. You'll find that a wet cotton ball LIGHTLY dragged over the surface of the plate (after fixing, in the wash water) will remove 90% of that. The solution is to clean off ANY residual silver left in the film holder after EVERY plate you make. Some of those marks are unavoidable (its inherent in the process) but you can avoid a lot of it by wiping out the film holder after every plate.

    I look forward to seeing the next one. Good work.

  7. #17

    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    There's nothing wrong with your collodion pour technique. Those swirly marks are contaminated silver from a previous plate making their way onto the surface of the plate and developing out. You'll find that a wet cotton ball LIGHTLY dragged over the surface of the plate (after fixing, in the wash water) will remove 90% of that. The solution is to clean off ANY residual silver left in the film holder after EVERY plate you make. Some of those marks are unavoidable (its inherent in the process) but you can avoid a lot of it by wiping out the film holder after every plate.

    I look forward to seeing the next one. Good work.
    Excellent advice! I'll try that in the next shot. My light meter may not drop down to 1 ISO but I found that my phone app does and it seems fairly close to the exposures I shot today, so that's very helpful. Can't wait to post more here!

  8. #18
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    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    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!
    Exposure f8 in bright sun using B&S collodion would probably be around 8s to start would be my guess.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  9. #19
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    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    Quote Originally Posted by blaine.hale View Post
    Excellent advice! I'll try that in the next shot. My light meter may not drop down to 1 ISO but I found that my phone app does and it seems fairly close to the exposures I shot today, so that's very helpful. Can't wait to post more here!

    I've found that light meters are useless for collodion. They aren't sensitive to UV light for starters, and the ISO of the collodion itself will change over time.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  10. #20

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    Re: Wet plate process not producing an image

    You're on your way! The first time shooting, people either think of film, and expose too short, or think wetplate needs more than it does, and go too long. You're in the zone now, and most days at that time should start about there.

    Rather than shooting with several plates at various speeds to figure it out, save time and materials. If you can do it with the tiny plate holder, make a test exposure by removing the dark slide just 1/4 of the way out of the holder, and shoot 2 seconds. Then move it 1/4 more out and shoot another 2 seconds, and so on. You will have 4 bands showing exposures of 2, 4, 6 and 8 seconds. At about F4, one of those will be good. Adjust slightly from there.

    I used to do about 6 exposure bands on a quarter plate to determine the zone. Now I just lick my finger, hold it up to the wind and light, and guess the time. After a while you will get where you are spot on every time, in any light, and with any age of collodion. It becomes second nature, you can FEEL the light.

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