Here’s How a “Digital Collodion” Compares to a Real Wet Plate Photo

Wondering if it’s possible reproduce the wet plate look in a digital photo? We have the answer for you in this quick comparison video.

Can you achieve the unique look of wet plate photography in a digital photo? The short answer, of course, is yes. But the real question should probably be, how close does it look to the real thing? We find out in this interesting quick comparison video.

Last year, Paris-based Mathieu Stern did a collaboration with Austrian photographer Markus Hofstaetter, who some of you may already be familiar with for his crazy awesome wet plate photography projects. The two decided to take on an experiment to compare the results of a “digital collodion” with the real thing. They share with us their findings in the quick video below:

To make sure that they can compare their results in the best way possible, Hofstaetter shot the same model in both digital and wet plate at almost the same pose. The digital version went to Stern for post-processing. While we don’t get to see how the “digital collodion” was edited, the point of the video was get Hofstaetter’s comments on how it compares to the wet plate shot.

Our wet plate photographer dove straight away to say that Stern’s result is not that far away. There’s a slight color difference due to the white balance, but we’ve also seen that some wet collodion photos can also be more sepia-toned. One key difference that both photographers noticed and pointed out is that blemishes like freckles and lines, and even the texture of the hands are more prominent in wet collodion photos. This incredible amount of detail remains exceptional considering that it’s an early photography technology. The wet collodion also has a shallower depth of field, something that isn’t easy to reproduce in digital.

The conclusion? Hofstaetter thought Stern did a great job. But of course, nothing compares to the real thing, and even Stern can attest to that as he himself had his own wet plate portraits taken prior to this video. Probably what got him the idea of collaborating with Hofstaetter in the first place!

Don’t forget to check out Mathieu Stern’s channel and Markus Hofstaetter’s channel to watch more of their videos.