Wetplates: Exhibition in progress

Following my work of last semester, I have been refining my process. To expose in the darkroom I needed a positive I could project or contact print onto the wet plate. Previously, I have had issues with half tones creating dots on the image; this needed to be resolved. I experimented with contact printing with larger half tones. The issue here was that the Collodion is very sticky. When applying the positive, it tended to stick to the plate. To get around this I found dampening the contact film prevented most of the sticking. I was happy with the results but found the quality of the image suffered: the film often leaving marks on the plate (this is improved by making sure the water used to dampen is distilled); these plates also had and over-exposed, washed-out look to them.

I experimented with shooting in camera, and this has been a great success this semester. There are issues with the length of exposure as the Collodion’s ISO rating is about 1/2. This is  fine for still life; using two LEDs and a tungsten box light gives exposures of about 10 seconds. However, for portraits this caused a problem. The solution I found was to give my subjects a chair with a back, or something to lean on, using two LED studio lights, the tungsten box light and another studio light to get sufficient light and using powerful flash with a diffuser. This resulted in exposure of between 2 and 3 seconds.

A further solution I came up with for the darkroom was using digital transfer film. I scanned my 120 negatives, made them into a grid in Photoshop and printed them using an inkjet printer; then projected these onto the wet plates. This does work well, although there is a grainy texture to the image, which can be less noticeable than enlarging with the half tones.


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