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Thread: Transporting wet plate chemicals - car, and is 4WD/offroading possible?

  1. #1

    Join Date
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    Question Transporting wet plate chemicals - car, and is 4WD/offroading possible?

    I am getting back in to LF with the intention of shooting wet plate - have recently taken delivery of a Toyo 45G and barrel lens. I'll be converting a DDS holder once my plates and chemistry arrive in the post (hopefully this week).

    This coincides with an upcoming road trip my partner and I are taking in early July. When we booked the trip a few months back I hadn't planned on bringing the wet plate gear (because I didn't have any of it!), but now the idea is really appealing to me. We'll be heading a few hours away to the West Coast of Tasmania - rainy, moody, and very atmospheric. My plan is to try and construct a basic cardboard darkbox to get a feel for what I'd want in terms of size and amenities when I go to build a more permanent one. I'll operate out of the boot of the car so that the hatch ideally keeps most of the rain off it. Partner is very tolerant of this kind of thing, fortunately!

    I know that the collodion and silver bath require some care in terms of transport, but I have been surprisingly unable to find much about specifics when I'm searching online. For the July trip, it'll just be in my hatchback on sealed roads - I was thinking of keeping them in a small eskie on the floor behind the passenger's seat, padded securely with bubble wrap. (It'd guess it'll be 5-12C outside, so tips on keeping chemistry at a good working temperature are also welcome!) Given how many people travel by car when they shoot I don't think this is too big of a deal, but out of an abundance of caution thought I should ask first.

    Where my main question comes in is whether it's possible to take them offroading - I wouldn't on this trip, but I do own a midsize adventure motorbike and when the weather warms up a bit, there's a real temptation to combine the two hobbies and use the bike to access places my car couldn't get me. There is of course a pretty reasonable chance of tipping over when riding dirt, however! Can the collodion be stored in something other than a glass bottle? Are the chemicals too volatile to even consider this? If they were strapped to the seat behind me or in the topcase so they'd be unlikely to take a direct blow, at least. Would need to be sure those lids are on tight though...

    Alternatively I can try and make some (patient) friends with the local 4WD club and tag along sometime - I assume they can handle some jostling if properly stowed? I was thinking a similar setup to the car: in a hard eskie, packed in securely with bubble wrap, but probably in my lap or by my feet. I have seen some YouTube of Borut Peterlin using his old Land Rover as a mobile studio, although in the videos I've seen they look like well-maintained forestry tracks rather than some of the gnarlier stuff we have here.

    While I'm here, potentially eyeing one of these if I decide to go the full tent route down the line - would the material be light tight though? It's described as "300D oxford fabric, PVC".

  2. #2

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    Sep 2012
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    Re: Transporting wet plate chemicals - car, and is 4WD/offroading possible?

    decant all the baths!!!!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    451

    Transporting wet plate chemicals - car, and is 4WD/offroading possible?

    I havenít done exactly what youíre trying to do, but similar, and
    - I donít think the chemicals are shock sensitive or anything like that, so as long as the containers are solid, you should be ok. Most important I think is the silver bath as thereís no easy way to clean a big spill.
    - rather than tanks I would consider using bottles to carry everything, and trays for the silver bath. Even the best tanks with lids can leak under large gís or if they fall flat.
    - one issue is the deposits of the silver bath will need time to settle after been shaken due to the off roading
    - I use an ice fishing too (Eskimo Quickfish 2). Definitely this will make the whole thing easier giving you a large place to pour/develop. Takes about 2 min to set up. But, youíll have to spend time making it really light tight and maintain it that way. Definitely it isnít to start with, due to the sewing on windows, edges, and the zip doors. Thereís videos on you tube on how to do this.
    - the main issue for me is temp ó collodion boils at 95F and (except for winter) is hard to make sure a car will never get there on my corner of the world. Of course different locations may be more practical. On the cold side thereís also limitations but I donít have direct experience on when there issues start.

    If I were you I would do some practice first with minimal quantities in small bottles, near home, to get the gist of it and see what changes may make it easier for you in particular.

    Other than that, go for it, have fun and please report on your experience!

  4. #4
    Foamer
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    Re: Transporting wet plate chemicals - car, and is 4WD/offroading possible?

    I'm an outdoor wet plater, two years experience now. I have some thoughts. First, when it's "dark & gloomy" there isn't all that much UV light to work with. You should try it at home in those conditions first and see what you get. I'm thinking of fast lens and something like one minute exposures? I photo in temps down to 20 F (-7 C) and it's tricky. I work out of my car and keep it running with the heater going. I also have a small 12v heater I put in my dark tent. Plates are kept warm as is developer. I've also used a small heating pad under my box, plugged in to an AC converter. As for the chemicals, I keep them in bottles and the bottles are kept in a padded cooler bag that has a plastic insert. I just leave the silver in my Lund tank but then have that in a zip sealed plastic pouch. If you think you're going to be rough on the glass bottle of collodion you could wrap it in bubble wrap. The main one you don't want breaking and spilling is the silver. It's expensive and extremely messy. I'll add that doing wet plate in misty conditions or when it's snowing is difficult as the droplets float around and then land on your coated plate, causing little craters. Here's an idea of my set up which has been pretty successful for up to 8x10.


    Kent in SD
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails PL3.jpg   PL2.jpg   NewBox.jpg  
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Tasmania, AU
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    Re: Transporting wet plate chemicals - car, and is 4WD/offroading possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi7475 View Post
    I haven’t done exactly what you’re trying to do, but similar, and
    - I don’t think the chemicals are shock sensitive or anything like that, so as long as the containers are solid, you should be ok. Most important I think is the silver bath as there’s no easy way to clean a big spill.
    - rather than tanks I would consider using bottles to carry everything, and trays for the silver bath. Even the best tanks with lids can leak under large g’s or if they fall flat.
    - one issue is the deposits of the silver bath will need time to settle after been shaken due to the off roading
    - I use an ice fishing too (Eskimo Quickfish 2). Definitely this will make the whole thing easier giving you a large place to pour/develop. Takes about 2 min to set up. But, you’ll have to spend time making it really light tight and maintain it that way. Definitely it isn’t to start with, due to the sewing on windows, edges, and the zip doors. There’s videos on you tube on how to do this.
    - the main issue for me is temp — collodion boils at 95F and (except for winter) is hard to make sure a car will never get there on my corner of the world. Of course different locations may be more practical. On the cold side there’s also limitations but I don’t have direct experience on when there issues start.

    If I were you I would do some practice first with minimal quantities in small bottles, near home, to get the gist of it and see what changes may make it easier for you in particular.

    Other than that, go for it, have fun and please report on your experience!
    Is regular plastic OK for the silver bath, or does it need to be acrylic? I was also unsure about the collodion - something I read in another thread here said it starts to sorta congeal if you put it in the wrong kind of container.

    With the silver bath settling, is that something I'd likely need to check visually, or would I likely be OK just waiting X minutes after stopping?

    For the ice fishing shelter, I've seen a video or two of the Eskimo, but can't find any reviews of the similar model that I found on eBay (not a lot of ice fishing shelters for sale in Australia!). My main concern is that it might lack the interior lining that the Eskimo has that makes it fully opaque - will try asking the seller. Not an urgent concern as it's more something I was thinking I might try further down the line if working out of the back of the car doesn't suit me.

    Fortunately hot temperatures are seldom (if ever) an issue here, and it doesn't often drop below freezing at sea level.

    That's what I'm hoping to do first (experiment around the house) - I should have a few days off prior to going on the trip, although I may be knocked on my backside by my first Covid jab.

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    I'm an outdoor wet plater, two years experience now. I have some thoughts. First, when it's "dark & gloomy" there isn't all that much UV light to work with. You should try it at home in those conditions first and see what you get. I'm thinking of fast lens and something like one minute exposures? I photo in temps down to 20 F (-7 C) and it's tricky. I work out of my car and keep it running with the heater going. I also have a small 12v heater I put in my dark tent. Plates are kept warm as is developer. I've also used a small heating pad under my box, plugged in to an AC converter. As for the chemicals, I keep them in bottles and the bottles are kept in a padded cooler bag that has a plastic insert. I just leave the silver in my Lund tank but then have that in a zip sealed plastic pouch. If you think you're going to be rough on the glass bottle of collodion you could wrap it in bubble wrap. The main one you don't want breaking and spilling is the silver. It's expensive and extremely messy. I'll add that doing wet plate in misty conditions or when it's snowing is difficult as the droplets float around and then land on your coated plate, causing little craters. Here's an idea of my set up which has been pretty successful for up to 8x10.


    Kent in SD
    That's a good point about the low UV - Tasmania is generally known for its high UV but having a look at the report for the state today it's all quite low - 1.5 everywhere (no sign of the sun today, quite normal for winter). Has it been your experience that UV index is at all useful for calculating exposure for outdoor wet plate, or not so much? I may have to look into a 12V heater or a hot water bottle to help with temps in my dark tent.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Posts
    451

    Re: Transporting wet plate chemicals - car, and is 4WD/offroading possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by ethics_gradient View Post
    Is regular plastic OK for the silver bath, or does it need to be acrylic? I was also unsure about the collodion - something I read in another thread here said it starts to sorta congeal if you put it in the wrong kind of container.

    With the silver bath settling, is that something I'd likely need to check visually, or would I likely be OK just waiting X minutes after stopping?

    For the ice fishing shelter, I've seen a video or two of the Eskimo, but can't find any reviews of the similar model that I found on eBay (not a lot of ice fishing shelters for sale in Australia!). My main concern is that it might lack the interior lining that the Eskimo has that makes it fully opaque - will try asking the seller. Not an urgent concern as it's more something I was thinking I might try further down the line if working out of the back of the car doesn't suit me.

    Fortunately hot temperatures are seldom (if ever) an issue here, and it doesn't often drop below freezing at sea level.

    That's what I'm hoping to do first (experiment around the house) - I should have a few days off prior to going on the trip, although I may be knocked on my backside by my first Covid jab.



    That's a good point about the low UV - Tasmania is generally known for its high UV but having a look at the report for the state today it's all quite low - 1.5 everywhere (no sign of the sun today, quite normal for winter). Has it been your experience that UV index is at all useful for calculating exposure for outdoor wet plate, or not so much? I may have to look into a 12V heater or a hot water bottle to help with temps in my dark tent.

    Iím no materials expert but I think you should keep the collodion in glass bottles, silver bath can be in plastic (I would actually recommend it since itís less prone to breaking). B&S kits for example ship the silver in plastic bottles.
    Re-reading the safety data sheet for collodion it does mention that it is shock sensitive:

    ďReactivity
    1. Conditions contributing to instability: Heat, sparks, flame light, shock. Ethers that have been in contact with air or exposed to light for a long time may contain peroxides; ethers that contain peroxides may explode when the caps or stoppers of their containers are removed. Because ethyl ether is a nonconductor, static electric charges may accumulate and cause ignition of its vapors.
    2. Incompatibilities: Contact between ethyl ether and strong oxidizing agents, halogens, interhalogens, sulfur and sulfur compounds should be avoided.
    3. Hazardous decomposition products: Toxic gases and vapors (such as carbon monoxide) may be released in a fire involving ethyl ether.
    4. Special precautions: None reported. * Flammability
    The National Fire Protection Association has assigned a flammability rating of 4 (extreme fire hazard) to ethyl ether.
    1. Flash point: -45 degrees C (-49 degrees F) (closed cup)
    2. Autoignition temperature: 180 degrees C (356 degrees F)Ē

  7. #7

    Re: Transporting wet plate chemicals - car, and is 4WD/offroading possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by ethics_gradient View Post
    Is regular plastic OK for the silver bath, or does it need to be acrylic? I was also unsure about the collodion - something I read in another thread here said it starts to sorta congeal if you put it in the wrong kind of container.

    With the silver bath settling, is that something I'd likely need to check visually, or would I likely be OK just waiting X minutes after stopping?

    For the ice fishing shelter, I've seen a video or two of the Eskimo, but can't find any reviews of the similar model that I found on eBay (not a lot of ice fishing shelters for sale in Australia!). My main concern is that it might lack the interior lining that the Eskimo has that makes it fully opaque - will try asking the seller. Not an urgent concern as it's more something I was thinking I might try further down the line if working out of the back of the car doesn't suit me.

    Fortunately hot temperatures are seldom (if ever) an issue here, and it doesn't often drop below freezing at sea level.

    That's what I'm hoping to do first (experiment around the house) - I should have a few days off prior to going on the trip, although I may be knocked on my backside by my first Covid jab.



    That's a good point about the low UV - Tasmania is generally known for its high UV but having a look at the report for the state today it's all quite low - 1.5 everywhere (no sign of the sun today, quite normal for winter). Has it been your experience that UV index is at all useful for calculating exposure for outdoor wet plate, or not so much? I may have to look into a 12V heater or a hot water bottle to help with temps in my dark tent.
    I see you're already familiar with Borut Peterlin, and he makes large wet plate negatives in situ as his primary photographic activity. Borut transports all his materials in his land rover, in difficult terrain, and his chemistry gets jostled a LOT in the process (there's a video of him opening up his glass plates box to discover them all smashed by the time he arrived at his destination). He's a no-nonsense photographer and is very familiar with his materials, and wouldn't treat his chemistry like this is it were a genuine hazard risk. Vibration/shock isn't likely to be a serious issue with collodion, but I would avoid transporting raw Ether, for numerous reasons (its just too volatile, and there's no need to bring Ether with you anyway. You CAN carry 50/50 Ether/Ethanol if you want, which is much more stable than plain Ether) I'm not sure how practical it would be to transport all of the required materials on a motorbike, and you'd better be pretty sure you're not going to go where dropping the bike is a significant risk.

    That said....

    Plastic bottles are recommended for transporting the silver bath outside the home/studio. There are specific plastics recommended for chemical transport - look it up. I keep my silver baths in laboratory grade glass bottles when not in use, and I feel they are safe in my environment. When I take the portable darkroom out on the road, I load my silver bath tank in advance and travel with it braced upright in a box, wedged in the back seat. I use the Lund travel bath style box, and mine does not leak when jostled (though I've heard some folks have experienced minor leaking: YMMV)

    Collodion should definitely NOT be stored in plastic containers, period. The solvents will eat into the plastic. Just don't. I transport collodion in tightly-stoppered Erlenmeyer flasks, or glass bottles, but if you don't like the notion of using glass, I recommend the aluminum IP3 chemical storage bottles that Brian at UV Photographics sells (and uses for his products). See: http://uvphotographics.com/aluminum-bottle-500ml-ip3/ Those IP3 bottles could be used for storing/transporting a silver bath as well, I believe.

    A note about the silver bath and its maintenance: if you keep your silver bath meticulously clean (regular filtering and periodic sunning/maintenance, then there shouldn't be anything suspended in the bath to settle out during transport. I have not had issues with a silver bath being transported. I can imagine you MIGHT have a problem if you were not keeping your bath properly filtered (generally after every use), but if you keep it very clean, this will not be an issue.

    The Eskimo fishing huts are not completely light safe without some amendments. You'll have to light proof seams, etc to make it usable for your purposes. These huts are not recommended for warm climates, as the temperatures inside can easily exceed ideal (and safe!) parameters very quickly. They must be aired out between plates as well, to avoid gassing yourself to death with Ether fumes. Be smart, be careful, and you'll be fine.

    As for measuring/evaluating UV levels, there is no easy way to do this. Most wet plate practitioners start out trying to use a light meter, and quickly find its a poor tool for getting accurate readings for wet plate work. I recommend you simply start off making a "test strip" plate before making subsequent plates. After some experience, you will be able to look at a scene and guess the exposure, and you'll be surprised how often your first guess is very close! Trying to figure out how much UV is available in any given scene is going to mislead you more than help you: there's no way to know, and trying to guess is adding a variable you don't really need to know. Just make a test strip and everything else will flow logically from there.

    This is the only truly reliable way to determine correct exposure for the scenario you're in. Making a test strip plate to determine correct exposure: https://www.lundphotographics.com/in...st_plates.html

    And if you haven't attended a workshop (or private teaching) for wet plate work, then do so if you can find one, or get yourself some GOOD books on the subject. John Coffer's manual is excellent (though not everyone enjoys his "casual" writing style) and Quinn Jacobson's 2019 edition of Chemical Pictures is also very good (though Quinn's book would have benefited from an editor, IMO). The Scully & Osterman manual is very good as well, but doesn't go beyond the basics of technique.

    Questions?

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Tasmania, AU
    Posts
    78

    Re: Transporting wet plate chemicals - car, and is 4WD/offroading possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    I see you're already familiar with Borut Peterlin, and he makes large wet plate negatives in situ as his primary photographic activity. Borut transports all his materials in his land rover, in difficult terrain, and his chemistry gets jostled a LOT in the process (there's a video of him opening up his glass plates box to discover them all smashed by the time he arrived at his destination). He's a no-nonsense photographer and is very familiar with his materials, and wouldn't treat his chemistry like this is it were a genuine hazard risk. Vibration/shock isn't likely to be a serious issue with collodion, but I would avoid transporting raw Ether, for numerous reasons (its just too volatile, and there's no need to bring Ether with you anyway. You CAN carry 50/50 Ether/Ethanol if you want, which is much more stable than plain Ether) I'm not sure how practical it would be to transport all of the required materials on a motorbike, and you'd better be pretty sure you're not going to go where dropping the bike is a significant risk.

    That said....

    Plastic bottles are recommended for transporting the silver bath outside the home/studio. There are specific plastics recommended for chemical transport - look it up. I keep my silver baths in laboratory grade glass bottles when not in use, and I feel they are safe in my environment. When I take the portable darkroom out on the road, I load my silver bath tank in advance and travel with it braced upright in a box, wedged in the back seat. I use the Lund travel bath style box, and mine does not leak when jostled (though I've heard some folks have experienced minor leaking: YMMV)

    Collodion should definitely NOT be stored in plastic containers, period. The solvents will eat into the plastic. Just don't. I transport collodion in tightly-stoppered Erlenmeyer flasks, or glass bottles, but if you don't like the notion of using glass, I recommend the aluminum IP3 chemical storage bottles that Brian at UV Photographics sells (and uses for his products). See: http://uvphotographics.com/aluminum-bottle-500ml-ip3/ Those IP3 bottles could be used for storing/transporting a silver bath as well, I believe.

    A note about the silver bath and its maintenance: if you keep your silver bath meticulously clean (regular filtering and periodic sunning/maintenance, then there shouldn't be anything suspended in the bath to settle out during transport. I have not had issues with a silver bath being transported. I can imagine you MIGHT have a problem if you were not keeping your bath properly filtered (generally after every use), but if you keep it very clean, this will not be an issue.

    The Eskimo fishing huts are not completely light safe without some amendments. You'll have to light proof seams, etc to make it usable for your purposes. These huts are not recommended for warm climates, as the temperatures inside can easily exceed ideal (and safe!) parameters very quickly. They must be aired out between plates as well, to avoid gassing yourself to death with Ether fumes. Be smart, be careful, and you'll be fine.

    As for measuring/evaluating UV levels, there is no easy way to do this. Most wet plate practitioners start out trying to use a light meter, and quickly find its a poor tool for getting accurate readings for wet plate work. I recommend you simply start off making a "test strip" plate before making subsequent plates. After some experience, you will be able to look at a scene and guess the exposure, and you'll be surprised how often your first guess is very close! Trying to figure out how much UV is available in any given scene is going to mislead you more than help you: there's no way to know, and trying to guess is adding a variable you don't really need to know. Just make a test strip and everything else will flow logically from there.

    This is the only truly reliable way to determine correct exposure for the scenario you're in. Making a test strip plate to determine correct exposure: https://www.lundphotographics.com/in...st_plates.html

    And if you haven't attended a workshop (or private teaching) for wet plate work, then do so if you can find one, or get yourself some GOOD books on the subject. John Coffer's manual is excellent (though not everyone enjoys his "casual" writing style) and Quinn Jacobson's 2019 edition of Chemical Pictures is also very good (though Quinn's book would have benefited from an editor, IMO). The Scully & Osterman manual is very good as well, but doesn't go beyond the basics of technique.

    Questions?
    Well, generally dropping the bike is the cost of doing business with trail riding - the bike itself is well-protected and meant to take it, but any container would have to remain liquid-tight if held at a 90 degree angle for a while (if it was difficult to pick it back up). I might try a few "dry" runs with just water in a few containers/setups and see how it goes before I risk expensive and volatile chemistry. I'll look into the aluminium bottles, definitely. Filtering and sunning the silver bath seem like they should be something I'm able to do so it's good to know if I've been keeping up with that I should be OK.

    The test strip plate is a good idea - I had thought about doing something similar by just pulling the darkslide shut in intervals during the exposure, but I see what the author means there about the exposure being exponential, that way makes more sense. I had thought of making a custom holder for actual strips and cutting a plate or two down, until I got the hang of it, but it sounds like a lot of bother for something I should (hopefully) learn after just getting a better eye for it.

    I did get a private lesson from a local guy here (who has since moved away) so I've got an idea of the technique/process, but it was the better part of two years ago. I'll have a look for those books here in Australia.

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