Tag Archives: dry plates

hand colored work, from dry plates

i am kind of stuck in hybrid mode these days

part of me is stuck in about 1890 and the other part in 2013 ..

recently i have been hand coating metal and glass plates with liquid emulsion
some were exposed and developed in a special developer to convert the negative image to a positive
( tintypes and ambrotypes ) with wet plate images this is done with collodion spiked with certain salts
which then bind with silver nitrate and are developed …this sort of thing was invented in the late 1850s early 1860s …

what i am doing was invented 20 years later.  instead of the silver nitrate ( and salts ) being suspended in a slowly drying
celluloid ( collodion ) that needs to be processed into a photographic image right away when still “wet”, i am using the silver-stuff
that has been suspended in clear gelatin.  they are called DRY plates …  it is the same silver gelatin liquid that i coat on paper ..
the same emulsion you can make yourself if you want  ( it really is easy enough for a college student to do ..  i did as a 20 years old at least )
and it is really easy to purchase from a store in a bottle  ( liquid light, black cat, se-1 &c ) …
in around 1900 someone discovered a way to invert the image to make a positive …  street photographers capitalized on this making instant portraits and post cards  ( developing tank under + attached to the camera ) …  and you can still do this today with the rockland colloid tintype kit

that is what i am using at least because the recipe for the developer is an unknown …

some plates are tintypes i made, some ambrotypes

and some are hand colored ( using photoshop )



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success !

i made a handful of nice tintypes today, and ambrotypes using the dry plate method.
and  i am looking forward to making  photographs like this …  it took a lot of testing and tweaking on my end.

first i skimped on the amount of emulsion needed to make this work.  i have coated plates for years and i used to be able
to get a great image enlarging onto a skimpy skim-coated sheet of glass.  tiny bit of emulsion goes a LONG way …
…  not with this process !
i coated my plates with a THICK layer of emulsion.  i actually DOUBLE coated my plates.  once coat with AG PLUS  the emulsion that
is recommended to use for this process because of its silver content and probably because of its viscosity …  the second coat was with Liquid Light VC.
when the VC is heated it STAYS LIQUID for a long time, and it is easy to work with.  AG PLUS is thick but it also cools down fast and gets clumpy
it was all good though.

I am in the midst of making a cold bench / cold table that is flat  / level and very cold to chill-set my plates and make them even better.

when i can get the kinks out of this website i will post a few of my plates, but right now all i have are words to show for my efforts.


if you have any thoughts about doing this sort of dry plate tintype, it is worth the effort and time  …  and believe what rockland colloid says when they
suggest you use a lot of emulsion and rate it at about asa 1.

Posted in alternative process photography, film development technique, images on glass and metal, liquid emulsion, photographs, technique and style Also tagged , , , , , |

almost there …

im getting better at covering the plates now that the water i use to melt the emulsion is BURNING HOT.
using old spent emulsion is great for learning plating technique but lame at getting images on the plate that
look  like tintype images.  these images are on the plates, i even have one on glass but it didn’t scan well.
the problem is they are faint.  i’ll be coating new plates tonight or tomorrow and will get shorter exposures
and better results.

these aren’t bad for what they are …  but leave a lot to be desired.

wonky site won’t let me upload images …

hopefully i will be able to soon  …


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silver gelatin tin types, another day ..

i got the kinks out of coating plates and metal the other night.
it seems my water wasn’t hot enough to melt the gelatin completely ..  so i turned up the hot water heater
and within a half hour my bottled emulsion was as runny as water.  i poured 4 small plates 3 4×5 tins and a 4×5 glass plate.
it was easier than it has ever been … and today i had a lot of things to play with to try to get the kinks out of my
shooting and developing.

until today, my images have been hit or miss.  no real rhyme or reason why they came out or didn’t come out.  i guess
you might call it luck.  today i made 6 exposures using black paper negatives, and most of the metal plates i coated yesterday.

the way i mixed the developer was to dole out what i needed and not have it all mixed up at once.  i had 1L of stock dektol, and the other ingredients  – 2 tbs of the white powder and 15cc of the liquid and 2oz of dektol to mix and get  8oz at a time as needed THAT was my problem…

the first two …  nothing worked  …  30+ seconds exposed in the back of an agfa sure shot ( it seems f13 )

i poured out a little straight dektol into a tray and put an exposed paper in there, then in the magic developer, and it worked.

i did this with a few plates, and they worked, and eventually i mixed the dektol with the magic developer …

the reversal additives ( powder and liquid ) were not strong enough to counteract the dektol, and i got negatives not positives when
i exposed my last sheets of paper..

later on, i mixed the rest of the dektol and powder and liquid and made 330cc of stock developer so i wouldn’t have to deal with mixing small amounts.  i later exposed 2 plates.  i used a cyclone 3 …  but its small aperture proved to be too much and they didn’t come out as i had hoped.

i’ll use a faster lens the next time around, so my exposures are short and easier to deal with.

Posted in alternative process photography, film development technique, images on glass and metal, liquid emulsion, photographs, technique and style Also tagged , , , , , |

metal liquid light coffee

continuing my experiments with emulsion and coffee

i coated a metal plate, and left it in my retina camera for 4 hours
and processed it in sumatranol 130

instead of a negative image that usually happens with the retina / in camera POP prints
it came out GREEN like the last reversed image …

i boosted the levels with PS and removed the green cast

retina print


more to come !

Posted in alternative process photography, film development technique, images on glass and metal, liquid emulsion, photographs, technique and style Also tagged , , , |

reversed ( positive ) silver gelatin images

im working on a project again ( i started a long while ago but life got in the way )
of making silver gelatin tintypes.  i have the rockland colloid kit and i am excited to use it again.
the first times i tried it, it really didn’t work well, but this time it seems to be doing what it is supposed to do.  my first
images were on a piece of metal and a sheet of RC paper.  unfortunately the emulsion isn’t dry yet, and it seems to take longer
than i had hoped!       the metal one is tiny, and i think i am going to strip it down again, recoat it, and make another image
the RC print worked great, BUT it’s tacky and not ready to scan.  the trick is a thin coat  …  which isn’t as easy as it seems
metal plates ( and paper ) are cold, so the emulsion cools down fast and begins to set as soon as the heated emulsion touches it
so heating pads are important …  i’m not good yet, but someday  …

there are some great silver gelatin tintypests on FLICKR …  and they give me hope !

Posted in alternative process photography, film development technique, images on glass and metal, images on hand coated paper, liquid emulsion, photographs, technique and style Also tagged , , , , |

tiles and lumen prints

i have been making lumen prints for a while now they are created by putting things onto a piece of photo paper and leaving it in the sun.  the sun makes a photogram or prints a negative or both.
i have made these lumen prints with cameras as well, leaving the camera open for an extended period of time, sometimes 3/4 an hour, sometimes 6 or 7 hours.   sometimes i even use cameras i made by hand, the largest camera i have made was 12×16″, i have sold a few too.

recently i started to coat plates with photo emulsion again.  i did this years ago as a student, but i made darkroom or in camera exposures to be
developed out using developer, and traditional darkroom chemistry.

two of them looked like this:


from glass plate

lumen plate








lumen plate

exposed in a cyclone #5









a few days ago i decided to use some water color paper/ velum i have coated with a few layers of photo emulsion.  like with the plates
the emulsion was old, expired and given to me by a friend  ( thanks winger ! )   i put a clipping from the

flowering forsythia bush on the paper
and left it in the sun for an hour, or hour and a half.  i scanned what i could of the image and inverted it in photoshop and the image looked like this:




1-1.5 hour exposure








i replicated it a few times and made some tiles:



photoshop duplicated








most of the images you find here are available on imagekind printed on paper, or canvas.


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Cyclone #3 Camera

many years ago i bought a cyclone #3 camera on ebay.  at the time, i was buying old falling plate cameras, removing the shutters, cleaning them, and reselling them.  i worked on and sold many of them, mostly long format box cameras, some with variable speed shutters, some with just and instantaneous speed ( 1/30thS sometimes faster ).  the design was simple and worked very well.  in the days before roll film, glass plates were loaded up inside the camera in metal septums after the exposure, a button was depressed and the glass plate would fall to the front of the camera on a rail, and the next plate was ready to expose.  after i stopped fixing and selling them, i bought one last one, one that took 4×5 plates, the cyclone #3.

a few years ago, i stripped the dried, mottled broken leather off the wood box.  i took a paper towel and made it wet, and scrapped it right off.  i cleaned the cobwebs out of the inside of the camera, removed front plate where the shutter was, and put a drop of oil on the shutter.  the camera was ready to use.

i put sheets of 4×5 paper in each of the 8 septums and went out and made some exposures.  i processed the paper negatives in old print developer to control the contrast, i’d scan or contact print the results, it was a lot of fun  …  i hadn’t used the camera in over a year and picked it up again the other day.   i loaded it up with 4×5 film and made some exposures.  soon after i cut 5×7 paper in half and used a enlarger filter ( #2 ) to cut the contrast a little bit.    i went to the cove near my house and photographed the marsh and the beach weeds.


paper negative grass

the point

marsh near the point

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paper, coffee glass and the sun

it is a long story but i will try to make it short  …

we returned from the mountains a few days ago, and i went into the darkroom soon after we got home.  i coated some paper with photo emulsion,
nothing i made myself, i haven’t done that since i was a university student,  it was emulsion from a bottle.  i coated 6 sheets of drawing paper some with emulsion that a scientist gave me, and some with some emulsion i had been saving, half used stored on a shelf for about 15 years.  i rummaged through my paper safe for a piece of glass and i coated it with some of the 15 year old emulsion as well.

i filled a 5 quart container with hot water from the tap, and got a plastic beaker and filled that too.  into the beaker the bottle went, and into the hot water the beaker went.  i got the paper ready and looked at the glass.  the glass was coated about 15 years ago, but i never did anything with it, so it just aged in the darkness of the paper safe waiting to be used.  the scientist’s emulsion was liquid by now, or part liquid, so i poured some out on the paper, and dragged a glass rod over it, one way and then back again.   the paper dried on the line.  i did this 2 more times and then did the same thing with the 15year old bottle.  while the papers hung to dry, i poured some of the emulsion into a wide jar that used to have cheese.  it was runny cheese so i thought it would be perfect to put runny emulsion in, so i did.
i got the hake brush and coated the plate with the emulsion.  two or three times until there was nothing left in the jar, and then i used the blow dryer and heated the glass.  it was dark outside so i could leave without worry the light outside would fog my paper or glass.

a few days before i made some photograms.  i used some outdated ( it really never is outdated ) azo paper, and materials i fashioned into small things and put it on the paper, and then a light.  i put the papers in coffee developer, and watched the paper go from white to dark in about 4 minutes.  they washed and dried overnight.

a day or two later i looked for something to print one of the photograms on, and i rummaged through the paper safe and found a piece of paper i had coated with emulsion maybe 15 years before, i had forgotten about it.  the emulsion gets better with age so i printed the image onto it and it looked great.  i took the newly made and dried paper and put it into the paper safe, i figured i wouldn’t forget it was there.  and i took the glass and put it into an envelope and a box.  i looked for a camera it would work with, but since the glass was about 4×6 it wasn’t going to be easy, i don’t have 4×6 cameras, only 4×5 …  so i used a camera i made last fall.  it is a 4×5 camera with a glass lens and hand made paper holders.  i set the camera up, and focused.  i took the glass out in the daylight and loaded it into the paper holder and left the camera open for 4 hours.

i took the glass out and  brought it to the scanner to see what the camera had recorded.  these sorts of images are singular.  they can’t be fixed or developed, or they will vanish or turn black, and they can’t be printed because the intense light will turn them grey and dark, so

i scan them.


















Posted in alternative process photography, film development technique, images on hand coated paper, liquid emulsion, Misc., photographs, technique and style Also tagged , , , , |