Another year, another wet plate

Even though I wasn’t officially a part of the class this year, I asked at the beginning of the semester to be included when they covered the wet plate process, because it’s a favorite of mine, also because we’d be working with the old (now retired) head of the photography program who is a wonderful lady and a lot of fun.

This was the first roll of film I shot through my new (2nd) Canon 7 with the Summarit.  I’ve wondered what an older low-contrast lens like my 1953 Summarit would handle a high-saturation film like Kodak Ektar 100, and now I know.  I’m working on another post about this so once I shoot that second roll of Ektar I have I will post more thoughts…


Our timings were off a bit, and with me being outside the entire time minding the camera, I couldn’t help troubleshoot, the result being that most of our plates were overexposed to one degree or another.  Thankfully, mine coming at the very end of the day, we were a bit more dialed in than when we started.  I scanned this plate and printed it at 4x5ft for my Advanced Photography project.  I’ve been holding these photos back for weeks now, meant to post them on World Wet Plate Day, but I forgot, too much going on.

Wet Plate Day picture – Alternative Processes

It’s been submitted, it’s up there, I’m happy to be among those who participated.  Check out the full gallery here.


The exposure was around 23 seconds, my instructor Carol pulled the trigger for me, but I was the one who came up with the idea, pose, the 2-tone background, and called the shots for exposure, so I’d say this counts as a true self-portrait, and I like it quite a bit!  If I ever wrote a book, this is the image I’d stick on the back cover.

I paid a bit closer attention to the lens this time, just to have the information.  It says: J.H. Dallmeyer, London.  U.S. Patent 1868.  I suppose going off the serial number would tell me exactly when it was made, but I’d guess sometime before 1890.

Happy World Wet Plate Day!

It follows quite close on the heels of Pinhole Day, doesn’t it?  Wet Plate Day has its own website, too.  Our Alt.Process class was working on wet plate/collodion all last week and the week before, so I thought I’d put some of the fruits of that labor up here:

Irvin1  Ian

This is a tintype portrait of me taken by my classmate Ian, and then one of him taken by me (obviously he did a much better job pouring his collodion).  We used my instructor’s reproduction Civil War-era 8×10 camera, but the plates were cut down, less than 4×5 actually.  The lens is a vintage brass one made in England in the 1880s and I’d say it still takes a damn fine picture.  I documented the process on Tri-X as well, so you guys get a nice behind-the-scenes look:

We’re back out there today doing more of it and I can’t wait to see what we get.