Here’s an Ultra Macro Look at How the Wet Plate Collodion Process Works

Markus Hofstaetter has some new, mesmerizing videos showing the wet plate collodion process like you have never seen it before.

Austria-based portrait and wedding photographer Markus Hofstaetter has been sharing with us his crazy cool experiments with the wet plate collodion process, and he has yet another unique take on it for all of us to watch. It’s one thing to watch the plates develop in normal view, but these new videos in an ultra-macro perspective show us what happens in the process in a totally different — and extra magical — light.

Some of us are already familiar with what happens in the wet plate collodion process: a glass or tin plate is coated, sensitized, exposed, and developed. But what exactly goes in the nitty gritty, chemical level? This is most likely what prompted Hofstaetter to create an ultra macro video to find out:

According to his blog post about the video, he started it because he gets asked a lot about how the process worked, like what happens during the fixing or what changes when the tintype gets dry. “As you can imagine, I tried to explain every aspect of this process, but a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s the reason of this video,” he added. “What I did not know was, that the outcome will be these amazing, mesmerizing pictures from another world.”

For this challenging goal, Hofstaetter used a glass tank to film the chemicals through. He mounted his Canon EOS 5D MK IV with the Laowa 25mm 5x Ultra Macro Lens, which produced a depth of field of about 1/10th of a millimeter. Since his camera’s screen was too small for the focusing, he did this by hooking it to a bigger screen it via HDMI. He also used three self-modified macro focusing rails that were partly made of laboratory equipment.

Aside from the video above, he also uploaded an extended video of just the ultra macro view of the chemical process. Watch it below and be mesmerized:

Don’t forget to check out Markus Hofstaetter’s blog and YouTube channel for more of his wet plate photography projects.


All images used with permission and pitched to the Phoblographer.