My First Wet Plate on Glass

Wetplate Portrait 2PS

My First wet plate on glass . I have scanned it on photoshop to show in my blog . Next i will paint the back black .

I absolutely love wet plate it is entirely different to digital which i am used to , and other forms of photography i have been experimenting with lately . Wet plate has a unique characteristic which is very attractive to and more artistic in a realistic way . The process is enjoyable in itself and each image has more work and energy put into creating it , which i thoroughly enjoy as it gives me more satisfaction when i have achieved a great image . When you take an image on your digital camera , it is a very fast process which is over with the click of the shutter and thens stores to your sd card . The image is good but compared to wet plate it seems plastic and unreal , even though it is a realistic representation of what you saw before you in the frame , it still ( For me ) doesn’t look as realistic as a wet plate . There is something about the wet plate , ( the wet plate gaze maybe ) that i am attracted to . The long exposures needed to obtain an image feels like you are capturing more of the reality before you in a chemical process that adheres to the image more . The whole aura that surrounds the wet plate and how we regard it in itself as a past method of photography is exciting and compels me to look deeper into this stimulating and provocative area of photography . Out of all other forms this ( and hopefully next the daguerrotype which i want to try ) , keeps me coming back for more even though the end result is harder to come by it is by far , more gripping .

The process involves having basic wet plate chemicals which i bought from . I started off by trying the process on some black aluminium plates and then moving to glass as it seems to be a slight more difficult . The process is still easy to pick up overall .

You need a silver box , 3 developing trays , 1 with water 2 with stop 3 with fix . Firstly whilst lights are on to se better you grip the wet plate underneath whilst wearing rubber gloves as it helps with the traction holding the glass plate . The we pour  the positive collodion onto the plate and gently swoosh and let it roll to each corner so it covers the entire plate . Wait for 30 seconds and the put it onto the dipper and lower into the silver box full of silver nitrate solution to make it light sensitive . Now we turn the lights off and wait 3 minutes until it has become sensitive . The next step we lift the plate out of the silver box and carefully place it into your modified dark slide , face down with the collodion surface pointing to the front . slide the dark slide back and now it has to be put into your camera within 3 – 5 minutes .

Make your exposure by trial and error as the light it reacts to is only uv and we can’t use a light meter . thus experience will prevail in this area . When i did my first exposures on black aluminium i started off on 15 seconds and it was a dull day , but ended up needed 60 seconds and using 3 plates for a good exposure . This is all part of the fun and learning process  so enjoy it .

So when you have made your exposure take your dark slide and plate back to the darkroom and turn off all lights ( leave on safety light ) then remove your plate and pour the positive developer onto the collodion side in the same manner as you did when pouring on your collodion , make sure all of the surface is covered . leave for 7 – 15 seconds ( you can see the image start to appear as the developer covers the collodion ) and then place in  the  water and finally into the fix . If all is good then you should have obtained your first wet plate . Congratulations .

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