Transportable darkroom for Wet Plate Collodion Process
I’m a beginner in Wet Plate Collodion process and I was blogging about a workshop that I took in Serbia (link). When I came home I was trying to make a good picture, but without success. I mean I’ve made this portrait, but you see the picture only because I scanned it and corrected the contrast and curves. Mišo Keskenović was telling me that my collodion is young and therefore lacking contrast. I knew it’s not only young collodion, but I didn’t had a constant working conditions, results were everywhere from bad ones to un-recognizible ones. But now I made myself a darkroom I can use on the field. I bought second hand Fujifilm darkroom and cut two holes in it and made a hood for it. It’s tight, but it works perfectly. Well I’ll try it out tomorrow outside, but it will work for sure.
Today I’ve made a tests trying to establish a correct exposure. I reckoned that I was overexposing my shots and then cutting the developing time and I had correct density of silver, but it was so uncontrasty the motif was barely recognizable. Now I decided to establish the correct exposure with studio flash, so I will have constant light during the test. First I tried on an old and dirty tinplate and I cut down exposure. Immediately I noticed it’s underexposed but with nice contrast. On the next tintype plate I spread collodion perfectly and illuminated it with four flash bursts of 1500Ws each. The result above is as you see it. No postproduction with curves and stuff. Actually if you see it live, it’s amazing, because you’re looking at pure silver and the image is incredibly sharp. Really! You can not get the sharpness like that with any Hasselblad, because the lens is projecting directly on the tintype without any interference of film negative. Of course just dead center is razor sharp.
My estimation is that if I set f/11 on my Kodak Folding Brownie the exposure time should be somewhere like a light meter would be set at aperture f/32, ISO 25. I will try my theory tomorrow and I’ll post the result. My collodion is now three weeks old. If it’s 1-3 months old it gives best results, but the exposure time is prolonged with aging of collodion. And apparently wet plate collodion is most sensitive on UV light, so reading with conventional lightmeter is only an estimate. FUN!
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