It’s been a while since I’ve done any wet plate photography, but with a potential portrait commission from the gallery on it’s way I thought I’d better dust off my plate camera and get pouring some collodion and try and get my hand back in!
Helen, Plate 1. f4,5 8secs
Helen Plate 2, f4,5 8secs.
I used Lea’s No7 Landscape formula collodion premixed by a company called Mamut based in the Czech Republic. The developer I had in stock was very old and oxidized so I made up a new batch using Scully & Osterman’s Formula;
15 gr Ferrous Sulfate
355 ml Distilled water
18 ml Alcohol
14 ml Glacial acetic acid
This brand new fresh developer would be too fast and contrasty to use as is, so I mixed it 50/50 with my old stock to get a solution that would be easier to use. Both pictures where taken with my vintage Half Plate camera fitted with Cooke Aviar 210mm lens on black anodised aluminium Tintypes. It was a bit of a dull day and even though Helen was sat right beside the window there was little direct sun light, the first plate had a lot of shadow so to help lift this on the second exposure I placed a full length mirror to reflect a bit of light back onto Helen.
I have to confess when it came to pouring the chemicals I was pretty rusty, and a bit more practice wouldn’t do me any harm but by taking my time and working methodically I didn’t cause too much of a mess! It was also the first time I had used the Mamut’s Lea’s No7 Landscape formula so there was a lot that could have gone wrong, but I was really pleased with the way the collodion and developer combination worked together.