As I’ve worked in the wet plate collodion process, I’ve accumulated many images that show extreme effects of chemical reactions and accidents of the process.  Sometimes colder temperatures caused the developer not to flow properly.  In other instances, the collodion was too old and formed on the plate in a mottled way as it was poured.  Then there were also cases of silver nitrate flowing across the plate and leaving traces of movement while the plate was in the camera holder.  Finally, there were some plates that had contaminants on their surfaces — specks of dust, and such.  These are among my favorites.

Isabella Sophie Gerber

Whole plate ambrotype  (6.5″ x 8.5″) of Isabella Sophie Gerber shot in my studio recently under UV light.  An ambrotype is a slightly underexposed image made on a glass plate using the wet plate collodion photographic process.  It appears as a negative until placed against a dark background, which reverses the tones, rendering the image as a positive.

This ambrotype was shot using two six-tube arrays of UV lights.  Each array contained five 48″ 6500K fluorescent tubes + one 48″ blacklight.  I used a 19th century reproduction tailboard camera with an original 1872 brass barrel Ross portrait lens (f/4) made in London.  Exposure time was 10 seconds.

 

If you want to get into medium format photography, there isn’t a more fun or inexpensive way than to buy a Holga.  There are many ways to modify the Holga for specific purposes, including shooting with 35mm film and using a pinhole lens.  You can find more about those topics at Holga Mods.