I have marvelled at victorian photography, and that of the American Civil War. The quality, the way the lenses react with the light, and of course the content. The formal poses and this small glimpse into history. I’ve always wanted to try this method of photography, and recently I managed to learn the basics.

When photography became popular, the photographers used glass for the picture. It was coated with a gelatine-like substance then placed into a sensitising bath (silver salts) to make a light sensitive medium. After exposure it had to be developed within ten to fifteen minutes to produce a glass negative.

The tin-type was invented by Fredrick Scott Archer in 1851, an American, and instead of using glass to make a negative, a sheet of black enamelled tin is used instead of glass and with a change in the chemicals used for this process, a positive image is made on the tin instead of a negative onto glass. Its a one-off process and as soon as photographers became aware, it allowed them to travel the world and to take pictures without risk of braking their glass pictures.

I just love the whole process, so I’ve adapted a film holder which will let me shoot 5×4 inch wet-plates on my MPP camera. I like doing this so much I’ve just bought a new camera to make even bigger plates. My new camera is a 1912 Ansco, made in New York, it exposes onto 10×8 inch plates.


This is my first plate taken with the Ainsco, exposed onto a 10×8 sheet of aluminium which was cut down to 10×5 inches to make the picture more interesting.


The picture of the Ainsco camera at the top was taken using my MPP onto 5×4 inch black aluminium.