Ever wanted to try old world collodion photography but found it difficult to get your hands on materials and chemicals for wet plate photography? You can still give this age-old photographic process a go with the more convenient dry plate photography. New Hampshire-based Jason Lane has been making his own dry plates for years, and he’s now made them available for collodion enthusiasts as well.
When it comes to early photographic processes, most of us are more familiar with wet plate photography or the wet collodion process of the Civil War Era. It involves coating a glass (ambrotype) or black-lacquered iron plate (tintype) with a photo-sensitive chemical before loading and exposing it in a camera. The entire process required photographers to do everything on-site until a breakthrough in the 1870s resulted in the improvement called dry plate or gelatin process. With this improvement, silver halide emulsion could be hand-poured onto glass plates and allowed to dry prior to being used as a negative, and a portable darkroom was no longer a necessity.
We can say that the dry plate is the precursor to “modern” celluloid film of the late 1800s. It fell out of common use by the late 1920s, but the curious can still give it a try today. Jason Lane, who has been making his own dry plate negatives, has been offering it through his Pictoriographica Shop on Etsy and other online distributors like Freestyle Photographic Supplies.
The J. Lane Pre-Coated Black and White Glass Dry Plates are hand-coated onto hand-cut glass, and are stocked in 4 x 5, 5 x 7, and 8 x 10 sizes. Each box comes with 10 plates. The glass edges are ground for safety and notched similar to sheet film. This way, you can properly orient the plates by feel in complete darkness if you have no safe light. They can be treated with a sensitivity of ASA 2 and developed for 5 minutes, or ASA 3 and developed for 10 minutes. This “normal” emulsion only responds to blue and UV light.
If you’re new to the craft and want to give it a go, Freestyle also carries some modern collodion supplies to use alongside the J. Lane Pre-Coated Dry Plates.
All images via Freestyle Photographic Supplies