I recently took part in a workshop run by Monochrome Meath in the process of Wet Plate Collodion Prints. Its a process I had been wanting to try for some time not only for the development technique but also to get my hands on a large format camera for the first time.
Wet plate images are produced by coating a medium such as glass or aluminium plates with collodion which contains Cadmium Bromide (extremely dangerous chemical). This is then submerged in a Silver Nitrate (again very dangerous) bath which makes the medium photo sensitive. Once sensitive the plate is put into a film holder ready to take a photo. When the photograph is taken its back into the darkroom to develop the image. The developer is poured over the plate and an image appears in a matter of seconds. It is then thoroughly soaked with water to freeze the development and the submerged in a fixing bath. The whole process of producing an image from start to finish is pretty quick as long as everything is set up and prepared properly before hand. Once the images are fixed and dried out a varnish coat is applied which makes the images really pop.
I really enjoyed the workshop but I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit to getting my own set up just yet. The images I’m sharing with you here were not all taken by myself (because I’m in them). My fellow workshop attendees didn’t want to take home images of random strangers so we took home the photographs of ourselves instead. There are varying results of success, but if you want to google a couple of masters of the art do a quick search of Quinn Jacobson or Borut Peterlin for some outstanding portraits.