Wetplate photography is an early photographic technique invented by Englishman Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. The process involves adding a soluble iodide to a solution of collodion (cellulose nitrate) and coating a sheet (plate) of glass or aluminium with the mixture. In the darkroom the plate is immersed in a solution of silver nitrate to form silver iodide, this makes the plate light sensitive. The plate, still wet, is exposed in the camera and then developed in the darkroom by pouring a developer solution over it and then the image is fixed with a fixing solution. Immediate developing and fixing are necessary because, after the collodion film has dried, it becomes waterproof and the reagent solutions cannot penetrate it.
My love of traditional photography and photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the early pioneers of portrait photography in the 19th Century, initially introduced me to the 'Wet-collodion' process. One of the attractions for me is the 'hands-on' interaction with every plate created, each being completely unique and one-off. I was fortunate to be asked to assist local photographer Nicky Thompson on her 2015 portrait project 'A Portrait of Moretonhampstead', which gave me a wonderful and practical insight into the world of wet-collodion photography and large format cameras.
If you would like to have a wet-collodion portrait taken in my studio, please call me today to arrange a sitting. The whole process takes around 1 hour which at the end, gives you a 5x4 tintype portrait to take away.
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