Lea Formula 3 – Portrait Collodion Results

Over the past 7 months I have been testing several different collodion formulas.  This is the first set.

This is Lea Formula 3 – Portrait collodion, from “Manual of Photography” by M. Carey Lea

It is a slow ripening Cadmium based formula.

At one day it is unusable.

At 2 months it’s almost usable.

At 5 months it’s nice.

At 7 months it’s nice and maybe a bit faster.

The advantage of this formula is that once ripened it’s extremely stable.  It is said to last for 12 to 18 months or more.

Disadvantage – It’s cadmium based and it takes 5 months to ripen.

I have made a lithium based version of this formula that hopefully will ripen slightly faster and last as long.

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At 7 months you can see that Lea Formula 3 is still a nice yellow color. A hybrid using LiBr in place of CdBr2 is aging faster.


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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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