Large Format Photography – Day 1 in the Netherlands

I got up early this morning, fresh and ready to mix up those chemicals. I have been living up to this week for a while now and was well excited to get going. I gathered my things outside to start mixing as you should only work with chemicals in a well ventilated space, and which space is better ventilated than outdoors? Luckily, the weather was warm yet cloudy without too much wind.

mixing time!

I started measuring and mixing the ingredients for the wet plate collodion – I decided on trying John Coffin’s Poe Boy (Or Poor Boy) recipe as it does not require the use of ether – and managed to make some massive mistakes from the get-go.


240 ml plain collodion USP (RIGID USP 4%)

300 ml denatured alcohol

6 ml distilled water

3 grams potassium bromide

5 grams potassium iodide


I took a large (1.5 l-ish) clear glass container to mix up the batch in but measured out my collodion in a plastic measure. Doing this ruined the measure as the sides clouded over and I scratched a layer of the set collodion from the sides. Therefore: USE GLASS WHEN WORKING WITH COLLODION! I poured this into the large container anyway and added the destilled water. So far so good.

Then I started measuring out the potassion bromide and iodide to dissolve in water. First, I accidentally started with the iodide instead of the bromide. Now, I don’t know if this is a huge mistake to reverse the order, but reversing the order in my case meant I picked up the wrong container and used the wrong amount of potassium iodide. *Sigh*

I started again,  making sure to grab the correct chemical this time and put 3 ml water with it. It dissolves a little. I put the iodide with it. It does nothing. I stir. It does nothing. I take a larger glass container to heat the mixture au bain marie, nothing happens!! Then I figure out a little later than my measurements were WAY off, thanks to my antique scales without a proper container on top, and me reading the wrong numbers from the side of it. *Double sigh*

So I put this stuff away, trying again. Three times lucky, right? And whaddayaknow, both powders dissolve withut a fuss and I manage to add it to the collodion. I have covered it with a rubber gloves as it /fit perfectly and it seemed somehow wrong to just leave it open and have put it away for now to settle in our cool, dark shed, but it should be ready for use in 1-3 days.


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silver bath



Mixing up the Silver Bath was little more than measuring out the 38 grams of Silver Nitrate and adding it to 400 ml of distilled water. It took me about 4 shakes for the crystals to be completely dissolved – let’s hope I’ve not been cheated by the Ebay seller that sold me these!

Filter it through a coffee filter of similar and leave a coated plate in it overnight for it be be fully functional.





Then, I mixed up the developer. The developer does not need to be made several days in advance, I just thought I would mix everything up whilst I had the chemicals out.


100 ml distilled water

4 grams ferrous sulfate

6 m glacial acetic acid

4 ml (grain) alcohol – I substituted for denatured alcohol

Ferrous Sulfate


Measuring out the ingredients for this mixture, I also managed to make the same mistake using those old scales, taking the wrong measurements and I had to redo the mixture once.

Luckily for me, I made the faulty batch in a flawed bottle, which turned out wouldn’t close properly, so both are out the door. I took all ingredients for the developer and poured them together into the container, in the order as mentioned.




Gum Sanderac Varnish mix Gum Sanderac Varnish mix

Mixing up the ingredients for the Gum Sanderac Varnish was easy, putting 32 grams of Gum Sanderac in a Brown Glass Jar, adding 220 ml of Grain Alcohol, closing the jar and shaking it.

I’ll have to do this off and on for the next few days in order to dissolve the gum sanderac into the alcohol, before finishing off the remainder of the recipe using 22ml of Lavender Oil and 4 ml of distilled water.





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