I fancied having a go with wet plate collodion. I’ve had a go previously making tintypes using the slightly easier dry plate gelatine process. But I’ve wanted to do wet plate for a while, so last week I ordered silver nitrate, pre-mixed collodion, developer, sodium thiosulphate and Sandarac varnish.
The collodion process was invented in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer. The process was able to combine the sharpness of a Daguerreotype with the reproducibility of a Calotype – ultimately rendering both of the previous processes redundant.
I set my 1890’s half-plate camera up facing a still-life I assembled on a table in my greenhouse. I coated the glass plate with collodion and in my darkroom, sensitised it in silver nitrate. Once sensitised, I took my plate holder to my camera and took a shot (5 second exposure). When developing the picture I saw the most on the image was missing although I did get a partial image which was encouraging.
I tried for a second time but this attempt was on an aluminium sheet. Again, the plate was only partially exposed. I’m not sure what the issue was, but I think the it may have been the plate not being properly submerged in the silver nitrate.
I persevered until the sun went down, but unfortunately didn’t a decent picture; I either got really washed out pictures or half a picture or no picture at all. I celebrated my failure with a take-away and will try again next week…