Vintage Wet Plate Collodion Process Photography (Tin-Type)
by Fine Art Photographer - Davin Lavikka
And now for something different! If you know me or are reviewing my site then you know that I switch back and forth between film and digital. More importantly I mix the two quite often and I have done it again. I am a huge fan of historical, vintage process photography and rarely have time to play with it but wet plate collodion is a different story. I wanted to make sure I fully understood it after all it's earliest processes and really the beginning of studio photography.
First a quick definition: Wet plate collodion photography is a historical process that dates back to the 1850's in either glass negative or metal tin-type form. Collodion is poured over a glass or metal plate then soaked in silver nitrate. The plate is loaded "wet" into the film holder, exposed then immediately developed.... Traditionally in cyanide. The beauty of wet plate is the patina because the entire process is wet from start to finish. Uncontrollable lines and patterns form on the film plane making each plate unique and a piece of art in it's own right.
So what the hell am I doing with it? Photographers who shoot wet plate have a tendency to shoot in the truest form. This is where I have issues with it. Because the plate is soaked in silver nitrate means there is almost no iso speed making exposure times extremely long. My goal was to make any image a wet plate image for the love of the patina. Instead of just using it as a capturing tool I also decided to use it as a printing process allowing me to take digital images and convert them to wetpates. This mixed process gives me the ability to do more with the composition and lighting. The final product is a 4x5 inch alumi-type (similar to a tin-type but on an aluminum plate). Prints up to 16x20 can also be produced from the plate.
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From digital to wet plate collodion print with a vintage historical feel.