The intent of this blog is to test various chemicals and techniques used in the wet plate collodion process.  Reality is that everything has already been done back in the late 1800’s, so most everyone today is just reinventing the wheel.   That said, we can duplicate what has been done to confirm and document the outcome.  My current interest is in the collodion formulas from M. Lea Carry.  I am currently testing several of his formulas, along with some cadmium free formulas, and will post the results once I have a a few more sets of plates finished.  To try and make the testing as consistent as possible I developed a standard shot that can be duplicated plate after plate.  It uses CFL’s as a light source, which give a consistent light source, but I will have to develop something outside to test natural light.  Controlling the sun will be a bigger challenge!

Standard Shot Rig
Standard test shot rig.

This is the rig I came up with for the standard shot.  It uses my Speed Graphic with 5″ Gem Petzval.  This photo is still in the development stage.  I added an extra light at the top and various subjects including a grayscale and a color scale.  Using a stopwatch I have been able to get consistent plates from this set up.  I have already seen some interesting differences between the formulas, and am excited to see a couple as they age.

First set of test plates.
First set of test plate.

Other things I would like to study are fixers – KCN vs Rapid Fix and Hypo.  The thought is that KCN gives a warmer image, but developer & development time may have a greater influence.

More to come…





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A wet plate collodion photographer trained in chemistry and interested in new ways to do an old process.

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