Tag Archives: tintypes

recent events

found some coated plates in a box!
5x7s ready to expose, can’t wait ¬†ūüôā

my only problem is, should i make cameraless images, or glass negatives, or ambrotypes ?

i hate having to make such fun decisions ūüôā

i’ll get things prepared, and maybe do all of these things. ¬†my hand made old fashioned tintype developer seems to still be active
so who knows, maybe it’ll do the trick !

i’ll post the results if they happen.

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limited success with home brew tintype developer

for a few weeks now i have been experimenting with various reversal developers to make

silver gelatin tintypes.  i abandoned my old stock of liquid emulsion for an unopened bottle

of liquid light i had bought maybe six years ago and never used. ¬†i did a test coat on white paper exposed it in a camera as a paper negative and it looked great, so i figured i wouldn’t have much trouble coating metal and paper as tests as tintypes. ¬†i followed the instructions on the rockland colloid site and coated thin, but my imges were barely visible. ¬†im thining i’ll coat thick again. ¬†i seemed to have the best of luck with thick coated plates since the emulsion wasn’t ag+ ,,,

i don’t have plates to post becausr, they are’t post worthy. …

i don’t plan on giving up my quest to make thest tintypes with less than wet plate danger

i have had my fun wi collodion over the years. ¬†first as a college student, then afterwards, and while i don’t mind using it, i would rather use a less sensitive, material, and not have to cart my darkroom around with me,

i do know of collodion dry plates and could probably make them but id rather keep things simple and not deal with collodion …


more to follow ¬†…..



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More tintypes

i loaded up a graflex series d plate holder yesterday
and filled it with 6 coated plates.  i exposed them heavily
hoping my dead emulsion would like extra light
and it did.  f3.8 @ an average of 3-4 minutes each exposure
noon-time-light ( heavy blue ) snow reflecting the light as well …

they were developed in my home brew reversal .. part coffee, part ansco130, part sodium carbonate, part magic
and i processed them this morning.  unfortunately i forgot the hardener in my old fashioned hypo, so some of the emulsion frilled and lifted
but i’ll re-use the plates. ¬†the images were light, and some were coppery, and they are drying as i type this ¬† …

i’ll warm up and pour some fresh emulsion in the next few days and see what happens next. ¬†my developer works well ( tested it with regular paper )
it might just be my emulsion is old and not worth the bottle it is solidified in.

more to follow ¬†…

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new dry plate tintypes

for a little under a year i have been playing with dry plate tintypes+ambrotypes.

my glass plate history began back when i was in a directed study photography class at tufts university.

the photography department ran out of numbered courses ( photo 1, photo2 &c ¬†) so after photo “5” i designed my own¬†classes ( 2 directed studies ¬†) ¬†where i made and used old school silver emulsions. ¬†i had bought a photography annual at a bookstore and thumbed through the pages¬†and came up with what seemed like a simple recipe. ¬†i bought silver nitrate from the photographers formulary ( i think it was them, it was a long time ago in 1987- )
and some gelatin and mixed up a batch in the middle of the night in our kitchen using pots + tools purchased at goodwill, so i wouldn’t contaminate any of our actual cooking¬†tools … ¬†it worked OK, i guess, it turned black in room light at least, but it wasn’t the best of emulsions. ¬†rather than spend all my money on emulsion making stuff¬†that sort of worked, i opted to buy rockland colloid’s liquid light. ¬†it was already made and was a emulsion that worked … ¬†so i started teaching myself the art of¬†making dry plates ¬†// ¬†there was no internet or workshops or peer to peer groups back then that could help me learn. ¬†it was all by trial and error and i eventually made
some great plates. ¬†the next semester ( spring 1988 ) i continued with making giant glass images and printing them on photo paper. ¬†it was a lot of fun, and some of my best images were made that year. ¬†unfortunately, i have lost some of the giant plates ( i moved around a lot between 1988 and 2014 ) or they were damaged ( fell and broke into a thousand pieces ) but i never stopped making glass images. ¬†between 1988+93 i made maybe 20 ¬†small images, and eventually i slowed down and stopped. until last year …¬†now i have started to make bigger ones again using the rockland emulsion and their tintype/ambrotype kits.

thanks to the internet i have found a handful of people making their own dry plates ( glass negatives ) but there aren’t many who use this old process to make positive images. ¬†most people who make tintypes or ambrotypes do the WET plate method. ¬†they use collodion that has been treated with salts and then a silver nitrate bath, to sensitize the plate, and then a developer and cyanide based fixer ( or speed fixer if they want a colder toned image ) ¬†there are some great photographers who do this process seemingly effortlessly. ¬†while i have played with collodion back in the day .. ¬†not to make wet plates but as a potential material that the silver gelatin emulsion could stick to when i was teaching myself the whole dry plate process, not knowing then that if i waited for the collodion to DRY it probably would have worked, but i was using it WET still .. ¬†hindsight is 20/20 it seems ! ¬†… ¬†anyways … ¬†instead of collodion and cyanide fixer, i opt to use the more finicky less popular dry plate tintype process. and enjoy it a lot …

after the 1870s when silver gelatin emulsion and dry plates became the new mode of photography, people devised a way to turn the images into a direct positive, much like photographers were doing with wet plate images … ¬†singular images, no negative, and what appeared to be a positive. ¬†street photographers started to use pre coated metal, glass and paper plates in cameras and process them in a special developer that both developed the image as a negative slowly and bleached it and fixed it and as a result, the processed plate ( glass, metal or paper ) was a direct positive. ¬†sometimes these cameras ¬†( like the mandellette post card camera ) appear on ebay. ¬†they have chemistry tanks under the camera. ¬†the photographer stuck his arm in a long sleeve and took the exposed plate and dipped it into the chemistry and at the end into a bucket of water …
ive found recipes online in old journals ( much like the annual i got my emulsion recipe out of ), but i haven’t gotten great results from them. ¬†the rockland kits come with a special tintype developer so i have used that until recently. ¬†my developer went bad after the summer ( it doesn’t last as long as other paper or film developers ) so i had to try to concoct my own recipe.

first my developer was too strong and the reversal part was too weak and i got a NEGATIVE image on my metal plate.  at least i knew my emulsion was good, it was coated onto the plate in april !

then i did a very long exposure ( 4 mins ) on an dull overcast day and changed my developer a little bit and it worked pretty well.

i’ve got to tweak it a little bit more and hopefully it will work great. ¬†it is pretty simple, based on a vintage formula but i add in my own little bit coffee developer
because, if metol or hydroquinone can do it, caffenol can do it just as well ¬†…

strong developer no reversal

test image metal plate



successful reversed ferrotype

emulsion too dense, didn’t clear

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more glass and metal coated

last night with the radio keeping me company
i heated emulsion and scrubbed glass and
coated 6- 5×7, 4- 4×5 glass plates ¬†1 – 4×5 metal sheet, and 2 trimmed small ones for 35mm and MF.
they chilled and now are drying out in the dark ..

i hate waiting and wish SGE would dry out quicker, but it doesn’t …


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they say you dream in black and white

and when you awake your brain puts color to it all.

see previous upload for information


i awoke and saw it all in color …

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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.

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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.

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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 !

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