Today, I’d like to share a little secret with you. Well….little……..I had been pondering and pondering on how to keep my wet plates safe whilst being out in the field. Granted, my camera isn’t exactly the sort of size you’d happily take out to shoot some snaps at the beach, but still. I absolutely hate not being able to do something because of technical or practical limitations.
I will warn you now – this is possibly the highest-tech solution I could come up with: trays within a bucket of water! Well? Isn’t that great? I know it’s exactly what print washers do – but I have neither the funds to just go out and buy one – nor do I have the patience to build one properly.
The other difficulty would be the varying sizes of the plates that my camera takes. I decided to take the half plate (12 x 16 cm) and full-plate (16.5 x 21.5 cm) sizes as a starting point, to order and test my super-complicated idea.
What you need:
(Large) plastic storage container + lid
Plexiglass / acrylic sheet, 2-3 mm thickness, cut to size
Tools to cut / order to size online or in-store
Drill with large bit for holes
Acrifix / other acrylic glue
Take your (large) plastic storage container with a lid. A square one (or as square as you can get) without any holes, slits, gaps or damage. If it has a solid closing lid, perfect – because you’ll be needing that. Take the measurement of it’s smallest point – for me that was on the bottom as it tapers out slightly towards the top – and check what size plate it will hold. Mine would hold 2 full plates next to each other with space to spare, or 4 half-plates. Taking the measurement of the plate + a little space around it, this will be the size of the bottom. Now, you need some sides; I placed them on top of the bottom plate (easier to measure) and made them 1 cm high.
So, calculate the measurements of the pieces you need (this example is for 3mm thick acrylic). I ordered all my pieces from acrylic-online.co.uk and even though they state in their disclaimer that any tiny measurements may be slightly off, all cut pieces I received from them were perfect. They do charge £10 shipping as a minimum per order, so make sure you get all you need in one go!
I made 8 x full-plate trays: Plate=16.5 x 21.5 cm, Tray bottom plate (8 of these)=18 x 23 cm, Long sides (16 of these)=23 x 1 cm, short sides (16 of these)=18-0.6 (2x thickness) x 1 xm
And 16 x half-plate trays: Plate=12 x 16cm, Tray bottom plate (16 of these)=13.5 x 17.5 cm, long sides (32 of these)= 17.5 x 1 cm, short sides (32 of these)=13.5 – 0.6 (2x thickness) x 1 cm
Apart from that, you’ll need some 2 mm acrylic sheets, roughly the size of your tub to cover the trays between layers. With the amount of tubs I have, I can make 8 layers, I would be wise to order 9 divider sheets (1 to go on top).
The only thing I have yet to do is drill thumb-sized holes in the bottoms, to make taking the plates out a little easier.It is also not advised to use a large tub this size and fill it up completely. Not only will it be amazingly heavy, it might break and / or spill water all over you, the car, your camera etc.
I have now used this system once – I transported my glass in the trays to begin with, to make sure I could fit them all in when done. On location, I took all trays out and filled the bottom of the tub with a layer of tap water, which I brought with me in several plastic bottles. It’s easy to keep your plates wet when they are immersed! After each layer, insert a plastic divider, so the tubs don’t sink into each other, damaging the plate below. Add more water as needed. When done, close the lid securely, place the tub into your car and gently drive it home. Stick it under a slowly running shower and presto – safely transported and washed plates!