Wet Plate Photography

I had a workshop with Mal today in the darkroom, as I learned about a process that was 150 years or so old, known as Wet Plate Photography. This was an interesting and slightly dangerous process as we used chemicals. For our own protection, we had to wear gloves and goggles, as the Silver Nitrate, if touched the skin would burn and stay until the skin cells died off and regrowed. The goggles were to protect our eyes as if Silver Nitrate made contact with them, we could be potentially blind from the chemical.

The chemicals used firstly to coat the plate and make it light sensitive was Collodion and Silver Nitrate. Firstly poured Collodion onto the plate then emptied the excess back into the bottle, before it was placed into a bath of Collodion + Silver Nitrate together. This was left to sit for 3 minutes in the bath, before it was placed into plate holder and fixed into a camera to be used. The first exposure was 15 seconds, then was placed into fixer and washed with clean water. The first image was barely visible due to it being underexposed.

The process was repeated again, where the exposure time was 40 seconds and the image after being put in the fixer was still underexposed but was more clearer than the first attempt. The 3rd attempt was for a minute’s exposure and came out the clearest after being put in the fixer. I’m going down to the dark room tomorrow to pick up my plate to put up in my studio space. I intend to try this process again.

Wet Plate Photography

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Author: lawrenceaaronmaker

Studying a BA Hons in Artist, Designer; Maker at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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