Portrait of Manuel - Tintype

Tintype portrait of artist Manuel Schmettau that I made on his visit to my studio with Ann Stoddard (a colleague from the Wofford College fine arts faculty). Whole plate (6.5″ x 8.5″), 19th century wet plate collodion.


1/4 Plate Alumitype (3.25" x 4.25).

1/4 Plate Alumitype (3.25" x 4.25").


I made this 1/4 plate image of a metronome in motion @ adagio under 5500K compact fluorescent bulbs in a cardboard box.  Process used was wet plate collodion.  Lens:  f8 Dallmeyer Rapid Rectilinear (c. 1891).  Exposure time was 1 min. 45 sec.

1/4 Plate Alumitype (3.25" x 4.25")

1/4 Plate Alumitype (3.25" x 4.25")


This 1/4 plate alumitype of flowers on a Shaker chair was shot in the late afternoon with an f8 Dallmeyer rapid rectilinear lens.  The process I used was wet plate collodion.  Exposure time was five seconds.


Metronome:  1/4 Plate Alumitype by Bryan Hiott (2009)

Metronome: 1/4 Plate Alumitype by Bryan Hiott


This 1/4 plate alumitype was my first attempt at using UV lighting indoors with the wet plate collodion process.  Thanks to Quinn Jacobson and Jason Miguel of the Collodion.com Forum for their advice on a basic set up:  three 100 watt compact fluroescent bulbs (5500 K for approximating daylight).  I used a reproduction 19th century E. & H.T. Anthony tailboard camera with bellows and shot with a brass barrel Dallmeyer rapid rectilinear lens (c. 1891).

 Exposure time on the plate was long (3 min. 20 sec.).  Two factors contributed:  1) the f 7 Dallmeyer lens was not ideal for shooting indoors and 2) the dated collodion was not as  light sensitive as it once was.  I need to mix a new batch.  Overall, the results of the plate are encouraging and have given me ideas about future set up and how to improve lighting.  As you can see, the top of the plate goes darker because the light is falling off.  What I needed was perhaps another compact fluorescent overhead.  I was using only one bulb overhead plus one on each side.  Using reflectors would have helped.   

For this shot, I had the camera positioned about 3 1/2 feet from the metronome, which was the close as I could get and still focus the image; and that distance may have added to the light fall off.  Quinn Jacoson also suggested that the dark areas at top of the plate might be from the collodion beginning to dry during the exposure.  Cutting the exposure time is key, which I could half by using 6 bulbs (1 min. 40 sec.).  I have also heard of some people using a bank of twelve 6500K  UV bulbs and getting the exposure down to seconds.  Of course, having a little faster lens is another way to go at it.

Alumitype by Bryan Hiott (2007).  Pool filtration system, East Hampton, NY.

Alumitype by Bryan Hiott. Pool filtration system, East Hampton, NY.


An alumitype is a sheet of trophy aluminum used in the wet plate collodion process to make a positive image.  It is distinct from a true tintype (also called ferrotype) which is made from a sheet of enameled or japanned iron.  Coloring was done in Photoshop CS3 using the lasso tool to select specific areas and the hue/saturation tool to adjust color.  The original size of the alumitype was 3.5 in. x 4.5 in. (quarter plate).

For your viewing pleasure, I have presented an image of a pool filtration system in posh East Hampton, NY.  Why have I lavished such attention on such banal subject matter?  Good question.  This was shot during Eric Taubman’s workshop through the Center for Alternative Photography.  While the other participants were busy trying to recreate the look of a Mathew Brady or Julia Margaret Cameron portrait, I went off and photographed what William Eggleston might have if he were using the wet plate process.  I suppose I was just being contrary or, as Eggleston would say, “democratic” in my image selection.