Large Format Photography – Day 4 & 5 in the Netherlands

Unfortunately, the weather was actually not good enough on the Thursday to be able to make photographs. The skies had been grey for a while, but towards the afternoon it started pouring! I decided to wait until Friday to continue the wet plate photography and focus instead on cutting additional pieces of glass and do other preparatory work, such as further light-proofing the dark box and adjusting the dark box stand to make it more sturdy. I adjusted the developer by diluting it 1:1


On the Friday, I set up and started work. The first plate I took was another light test and it was looking a lot better this time. The second plate, a candle, came up, be it a bit vague. The third plate, a self-portrait was the same. Then, I tried a white subject on a dark background (a coffee pot) and then the same subject on a lighter background. I had a few mistakes in between – double collodion coating, not closing the dark slide when taking the plate holder off the camera, the plate holder dropping and the holder opening, exposing the plate…..All images had been taken on f5.6 at 2-3 minutes shutter.


The last plate I tried on a wasp ball that I found in Dusseldorf a few weeks ago. Considering the subject is brown and will therefore show up darker on the plate, I extended exposure by doubling it to 4 minutes on f5.6. Also, I changed the collodion by using another bottle (one that was full, instead of the half-full one that contained the last strained off remains from the batch I mixed up. This last image showed up very well indeed!


Some of the problems I encountered today were: very slow emulsion speeds, lack of definition in the image, peeling of the emulsion layer off the glass plate (maybe due to tray developing?), runny images/ uneven developing when not tray developing, collodion too sticky and not running across the plate well and spots on the developed plate (the silver needed filtering).


Hopefully, I can find the answers to most of these issues in the next week as I’m off to Dusseldorf again!


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