This is a 1/2 plate ambrotype I made last fall in the Center For Alternative Photography Workshop, which was led by Eric Taubman and assisted by Keliy Anderston-Staley. After shooting a few portraits, during the first day of the workshop, I moved outside and worked for a while.
Visible on this ambrotype are what is known as “lines of pouring,” ridges that form as the collodion is flowed onto the plate and begins to dry. As this was one of my first ambrotypes, I wasn’t in the habit of rocking the plate or tapping it gently as I poured off the excess collodion. In later plates, I had the technique down and was able to avoid these lines forming. Quinn Jacobson demonstrates proper pouring of collodion in the YouTube video below.
The Center for Alternative Photography has examples of images from their previous workshops on the alumnae gallery. One of my images from Eric’s workshop is included on that page.
Historical Comparison of Glass Plate Lines of Flow
Above: 1865 view of Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Georgia (half of a glass-plate stereograph by Samuel Cooley). Below: detailed section of Cooley’s image with lines of flow from his plate plainly visible – similar to those on my CAP Workshop ambrotype. The technical challenges of wet plate photography have not changed in the intervening 143 years.
Quinn Jacobson Demonstrates How To Flow A Plate