Chemical and Digital Photographer

Wet Plate

The Wet-plate collodion process was invented by Freckrick Scott Archer in 1851 and was widely introduced by 1860 and replaced the Daguerrotype – which was the widely usedf process during the 1840’s and 1850’s.

The process requires a plate of glass to be coated with a gelatine like substance called collodion and then made light sensitive by bathing the plate in silver salts. Once the plate has been sensitised, the photographer then has about ten to fifteen minutes to expose and develop the plate before it dries out. The development takes place under a red-light and takes about fifteen seconds to produce something unique and full of charachter.

As the world expanded and photographers wanted to capture the world around us, one of their biggest issues was portability. The equipment was big and they used Glass for their photographic plates, which was easily broken, so in 1853 a frenchman called Adolphe-Alexandre Martin adjusted the chemical process so that the photographer could use a sheet of black enamelled tin to make a positive image instead of a glass negative – and the tin-type (or ambrotype) was born – which made photography portable.

The process was used throughout the American civil war,¬† but by the 1880’s photography had moved on – first with the intruduction of albumen coated papoer and then photographic film.

I thought this process was forgotten in history but a few years ago I saw that some¬†photographers were using this process again – which sparked my interest. The whole process intrigues me – from making my own plates, to coating the plates with chemicals and making an exposure for which there isn’t any guide or any meter. You have to just work it out in your head.

And this is what I love about the whole process. Not having to rely on technology in any shape or form, and just having to rely on light and my own dexterity in being able to coat the plate with collodion, expose it and then develop it. To me, this is pure photography and as I se it, it can’t get any more pure than this.

This is an ongoing project for me, so over time, this gallery will evolve and expand.