Wet Plate Collodian - History

Wet-collodion process, also called collodion process, early photographic technique invented by Englishman Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. The process involved adding a soluble iodide to a solution of collodion (cellulose nitrate) and coating a glass plate with the mixture.

In the darkroom the plate was immersed in a solution of silver nitrate to form silver iodide. The plate, still wet, was then exposed in the camera.

The image is then developed by pouring a solution of pyrogallic acid over it and was fixed with a strong solution of sodium thiosulfate, for which potassium cyanide was later substituted.

Immediate developing and fixing is necessary because, after the collodion film had dried, it became waterproof and the reagent solutions could not penetrate it.

This process was prized for the level of detail and clarity it allowed. A modification of the process, in which an underexposed negative was backed with black paper or velvet to form what was called an ambrotype, became very popular from the mid- to late 19th century, as did a version on black lacquered metal known as a tintype, or ferrotype.

Wet Plate Colodian - Today

As with vinyl records and the music industry, older methods of photography are also making a resurgence.

In 2018 I plan to offer Wet Plate Colodian Workshops in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Held over 2 days, the workshop will teach you the wet-plate collodion photographic process from start to finish.

During this workshop you will learn processes of flowing and sensitising a tin plate in a darkroom and then you will frame and focus your picture on one of three vintage plate cameras and then insert the plate to make the image.

If you would like to register your interest please email me and I will contact you when the workshops become availble

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.