Large Format Photography – Day 9 & 10 in the Netherlands

After day 7 & 8 – I had another day and a half left to work on my wet plate photography. On day 9 I managed to shoot a few plate, a little larger than what I had done before, using the 2000W video light and the camera set-up in the shed. The weather was ok, but as the sun was coming and going all the time, the circumstances were less than ideal for practice. I managed to get plate 2 & 3 of my Dutchy series on this day: “Apples of Orange” (a choice between two) and “Black Gold”. The last image of the apple is overdeveloped and unfortunately, it shows! (I’ll run some tests on over-development, over-fixing, over-sensitizing next time)


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Later on the afternoon the weather stabilized and I tried taking a portrait image of my mum. And boy did that fail! It took me two tries with only her shirt and some highlights of her hair showing up (not the face, no outlines, no nothing!) AND and test strip from 10 – 80 seconds to realize that my developer may have some issues. The plates were all coated the same as in the morning, and turning into a milky white from the silver bath. They were definitely exposed, I double checked the plate holder and the lens on all three tries. So I changed the bath and things turned back to normal, judging by the last plate I shot this day – of dried out old coral (which has sat in our basement for decades). Excuse the overexposure – I had the 2000W lights a little closer by as I did on the other shots whilst not adjusting the exposure time.


By this time, It was getting too late to shoot any more plates. Twilight was setting in and I found it impossible to maneuver around in the dark box.


Coral test












On this day I had also been cutting and deburring glass, and varnishing the plates I had done so far and was willing to keep. I have cleaned off the other plates that I considered failures. Collodion cleans off easily with a little soapy warm water – or even just plain cold water. I had countless mis-pours of collodion this day (due to the collodion being too thick and/ or the plate not clean enough and/ or me not working fast enough) and it was a good thing I kept a plastic sheet covering the garden table at all times because at the end of this, it was quite a mess.


On day 10 of my wet-plate project I took things a little easier. I only had half a day before I needed to catch my train and I wanted to make sure I had cleaned up after myself before leaving for Germany. I went into town with my Mum to get a clock to go into the darkbox, buy some more rubber gloves, cotton pads – you know, the glamorous side to this project. Later, I finally finished my plate holder that had been in the making since January/ February this year. I have yet to test it – but it fits the back of the camera snugly and that’s a great start.


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Obviously I would have done a few things differently looking back on this little project. I would not have use a grounding layer of paint as the dark stuff will hold well enough on it own. I would have cut the frame from the inside of the plate adapter differently, so the finger hole would be in a corner. I would have tried cutting the inside of the plate adapter away more cleanly so I could have used it as another adapter for even smaller plates. I would have been more careful with my measurements and accounted for any details living on the outside of the plate holder – I know I got lucky this time!




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