Wet Plate/ Silver/ Collodion?

Discussion in 'Alternative Techniques & Photo Gallery' started by bultican, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. bultican

    bultican TPF Noob!

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    Well, I posted this in the beginner forum and got no responses, so maybe it's a little more advanced than I thought?

    I am trying to figure out what type of photography gives the silver (reflective) twinge to photographs like old historic photos. I have started looking in to wet plate photography (I would assume it is some kind of wet plate) and quickly figured out there is a ton of info out there for it. This is a good thing if you know what to look for, but I'm not sure where to begin looking. I specifically want to create some of the silver (reflective) photos. Does anyone know what this specific type is called or maybe have a good reference (book, website, etc.) I should look at?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Those silver images are either daguerreotypes or tintypes. The two often get confused with eachother.

    Daguerrotypes aren't really that easy to do, they're a copper plate that's been coated in silver, than you have to somehow get silver iodide is applied to the plate to it's light sensitive.

    The thing about daguerreotypes is that in order to fix it, you have to expose it to mercury vapors immediatly after the picture is taken, which i'm sure you know are very harmful to your health.

    You're not really going to have any light meter, i doubt many people know how sensitive wet plates are, and the sensitivity will range based on your chemistry skills.

    Nobody just "goes out and shoots wet plates"

    It's a very long, tricky, and dangerous process.

    Look up Sally Mann, she shoots wetplates. i don't like her portraits, but her landscapes are awesome.
     
  3. bultican

    bultican TPF Noob!

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    I really like the daguerreotypes, but from the reading I have done on them, you're right, it is very complicated and definitely an acquired skill. I read that wet plate photography came a little after daguerreotypes and is quite a bit easier, but wasn't sure if I can still get the silver toning I am looking for. I found something called silver gelatin process which is supposedly an upgrade from wet plate photography, but again, not sure if it is what I am looking for. I guess I need to hit some galleries and ask some questions there. Sounds like I am heading down the right path though. Thanks for your help.
     
  4. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    np


    One of my teachers from Seattle used to do daguerreotypes, and there's a couple of people doing them today.


    Silver Gelatin is just the fancy term for what Black and White photography is today.
     
  5. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  6. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    You're not thinking clearly here. You're saying "photographs" when you mean "photographic prints" and then getting mixed up with various processes for producing the "photographic negative" rather than the print. In processes where there is a negative and a print (e.g. virtually all "wet plate" process variants along with modern gelatin based processes) the process used for the negative has nothing to do with the color, surface sheen, texture, or metallic reflectivity of the print.

    There are two groups of antique prints that exhibit a metallic sheen. The first are those where the sheen was intentional or a basic characteristic of the process. The most pronounced of these is the Dageurreotype, which is a weak image on a polished silver plate. The polished plate must be held properly so that its reflections create a positive image. When tilted at different angles to the light it will show as a negative. Daguerreotypes are extremely fragile and must be kept sealed in a case to protect them.

    Two other processes, the Ambrotype and the Tintype, are basically the same collodion binder (like the later "wet plate") process that yields a positive image when the otherwise "clear" portion of the image is made black. In the Ambrotype the image is on a glass plate and a piece of black velvet or paper is mounted behind the glass. These are generally bound in cases like the Daguerreotypes to keep the pieces assembled properly and to give an appearance similar to the presentation of a Daguerreotype, which was the popular process in the day. The Tintype replaces the glass plate with a sheet of tin plated steel that has been Japanned (early 19th century term for a smooth polished black lacquer finish). The rugged image combined with the very rugged support contribute to the larger percentage of these images that have survived. They were also inexpensive to make and survived as the quick photo process well after otherwise better processes were introduced.

    The other type of metallic sheen is the result of aging and it is, in actuality, a fault in a less than well processed or stored image. The image, either print or negative, would not have had that sheen originally. The common type is silver sulfide staining, also called "silvering" or "tarnish". This can happen to either prints or negatives. It shows most in the darker areas of a print and when weak and uniform it will lend a metallic sheen to the shadow areas that seems intentional.

    There have been a number of toning methods that produce beautiful deep blacks. These can, when combined with a very glossy surface, can give somewhat of a metallic impression, but don't really produce a metallic surface reflection. There have also been some special toning methods designed to leave a shiny metal look, but these are not what you would see in real antique prints.
     
  7. bultican

    bultican TPF Noob!

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    Thank you for your help Dwig.

    I went to the local Kansas City art gallery, and looked at the photography section. I figured out that what I am looking for is dagguereotypes. I saw some silver gelatin prints and Sw1tchFX was right, they are just black and white prints (the "silver" misled me there).

    From what I have read, the wet collodion process is easier than dagguereotypes, and silver gelatin is easiest because the plates can be allowed to dry and transport. I will be making large format prints (up to 18" wide if possible) in a studio. Now I need to figure out if there is a way of processing either of these types onto polished silver plate (like dagguereotypes) instead of glass. If nothing else, it sounds like I could develop it onto the glass, then put it on a polished plate background, though I would rather have it developed on the polished plate.

    Basically, I want to have the look of a finished dagguereotype (where you can hold it to see the negative in one way, positive in the other direction), but if I could do so with an easier process than dagguereotypes (and larger, up to 18" wide if possible), that would be ideal.

    Does anyone know if there is any reason why you couldn't process a silver gelatin or wet plate using a silver plate like dagguereotypes?

    Thanks again for your help.
     
  8. bultican

    bultican TPF Noob!

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    Also I read that wet plates can be printed on any type of material. Would this include polished sheets?

    I would much rather have a positive image as the final image as opposed to a negative, which the daggueretypes final image would be.

    Thanks
     

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