Wet Plate class with Mark.

Collaborator: Mark Owen Sawyer

Cut 6x 8 pieces of metal, this is the size we have decided to use for my natural light, out door portrait. We then choose a Cooke 126 portrait lens from Marks every expanding antique collection.

  • The first thing to do is take the plastic of the metal in the dark room. There is a small bottle of collodion, which I poured on to the metal sheet. You should pour a decent amount of collodion to ensure the whole sheet is evenly covered.
  • Place the metal in a silver bath for 3 mins approx.
  • While in the silver bath, pour out a small amount of developer, so you are ready after the exposure has been made.
  • Pull the plate out gently to reduce drips and place in the holder and close.
  • Plce the holder into the large format cameras and when ready expose for required time.

For this portrait we exposed for 30 seconds in natural daylight, late afternoon. I had to sit still and hold my pose.

  • Cover and bring back to the dark room
  • Take out the plate and use the developer. Ensure plate is evenly covered as quickly as possible until the eye can see it is ready.
  • Place in water, drop it downwards 2/3 times and then pour water over the plate until the oil look has gone.
  • Place the plate in the fixer and agitate until the image appears.
  • Lastly soak in 2/3/4 trays of water.

We had some success so had a second attempt at doing a close up portrait, I happen to the like the second, closer one more. Which might be something to do with its distortion and colours, but also the big streaky white mark on the right hand side, which none of us had any idea what could have caused it. For me it is a reminder that these processes are so unpredictable. Making them one off pieces that can’t be created more than once.

I also made a few wet plate prints using a still life set up and controlled lighting in Marks studio. We had to make a few attempts at this as the first one was very under exposed.

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