Wet Plate Collodion at -9C, plus carbon print process!
So I’ve received a request if I’m selling also ambrotypes. I don’t because ambrotypes are unique, there is only one and once it’s sold I will never see it again. But I’ve replied that I do sell pre-ordered ambrotype. So when I will go outside next time, I can make an additional ambrotype for a client. If the client likes it, he or she buys it, if not, no problem at all, no questions asked. And pre-ordered ambrotype is also sold for much less I would usually charge.
So here is the result. The client asked if he can buy it in wooden box and so I’ve done some research, I’ve made a boxe from pine-wood and even blast-sanded it. It’s massive wood (not glued wood boards) and pine wood is known for it’s tensions, so it bended. For the next box I’ve chosen cherry wood and this was much better. The final touch is the trophy plate with engraved information about the plate and my signature. How do you like it?
In this video I’m making carbon prints. I love carbon prints. I think it’s the best that photography as a medium can offer. Of course this is a subjective opinion, but please object only if you have seen a good carbon print on glass – in person. It’s translucent silkiness of carbon prints can not be compared with any dot-on-paper principle printing process. It’s unique.
To fund my work I have to sell these babies. The carbon print on paper is listed HERE and the carbon print of glass is listed HERE.
I have a stupid anecdote to share. We had an attempt of burglary in our house. The attempt failed, since I had my German Shepherd – Mike in the house and that convinced the thief to retreat. After that I thought, shit I’m keeping all my savings in a drawer! I must hide it somewhere. And I did. And the very next day I didn’t remembered where I’ve hide it, now I’m totally without any cash whatsoever. Luckily I have some money on my paypal, so I can fill up the gap and pay the bills, but
imagine how stupid do I feel! Plus I searched the whole house again and again, but without success. Anyway I’m telling you this because I do feel stupid and I want to “enjoy” the suffering so much that I will never repeat it again!
ON THE WET PLATE COLLODION AT -9C
OK, I’ve done three videos on the subject how to do wet plate collodion at cold temperatures and none of them covers the all aspects. It’s impossible to cover all the aspects because everything needs to be reevaluated. Ditch the timer, you don’t need it. For instance in collodion manuals it is usually written that sensibilization time is 3 minutes for ambrotype. The truth is that the sensibilization time varies on the working conditions, the acidity of the silver bath, the strength of silver bath, the freshness of the silver bath, the level of iodine in silver bath and so on. What I learned from Mark Osterman is to evaluate the sensibilization visually. Do this tests and you will appreciate his wisdom.
- pour the plate and dip it in silver nitrate bath as you usually do.
- after 40 seconds, in safelight conditions, take the silver-plate out and look at it, then immediately dip it back in siverbath.
- repeat after 90 seconds, 120 seconds, 180 seconds
- observe how the surface of the plate is changing. You will notice the following pattern. At the beginning silver will be on the plate in drops, very oily kind of pattern. Then longer it will stay in the silver-bath, collodion will accept more of the silver-nitrate, more smoother the silver will flow on the surface of the plate.
- when there is no more silver drops on the collodion plate, when silver nitrate flows smoothly, the plate is ready to be taken out.
- In some cases, when I had 9% solution, that was freshly boiled and working in temperature of 25C and I was agitating a bit, the sensibilization times were less then a minute! In times when it’s cold, times might be 6 minutes. Of course judging visually!
So this is the most important advice I want to give you. Of course take special attention to poured on plate, if collodion has set. Touch the pouring corner and if finger-print is overflown by collodion again, then wait few more seconds and repeat the test and when you can see that the collodion does not flow anymore, then dip it in silver nitrate. You might make a collodion that has solvents in ratio 65% of ether, 35% of alcohol. It will dry faster, but I work with my usual 50:50 ratio. During summer I do change the ratio to 30 ether : 70 alcohol. Plus more ether makes better ambrotypes, more alcohol makes better negatives. (More in the Collodion Manual)
I can not tell you the time of development, nobody can, you have to judge it visually. Of course if you’re an avid collodion photographer you do this routinely. If you are not, let me say few words. When you pour developer, observe the plate, count seconds loudly. So when the highlight will start to appear, multiply the time with three. So if the highlights are there already at 4 seconds it will be around 12 seconds. If the highlight will start to appear at 10 seconds, the developing time might be more like 30 seconds. OK, when I say highlight, it can be highlight of a face or a sky. Of course sky will appear much faster then a highlight patch on a nose, so take my advice on seconds approximately.
At freezing point I usually have 10 gr of ferrosulfate in 100 ml of developer. If it’s hot I reduce it down to 3,5 gr.
Heating plates and chemistry
I don’t recommend it. If you do not have a camper with permanent heating, then I don’t recommended. Because the heating will cool down, so you will not have a steady temperature and your results might be all over the place. My advice is that you do not heat up anything, so you will have steady temperature, which might be -5C, but at least when you will figure it out, you will have steady working conditions! The worst is that you get a good result, but then the temperature of your chemistry has dropped and you will have different results and there are so many variables, that it’s very likely you will get many problems. The only heating I recommend is long underwear and double socks.
In the video I forgot to put table salt in my water. One teaspoon of table salt will prevent water from freezing even at -6C. I’m adding salt even during hot temperatures, because salt will react with silver-nitrate and stop developing process immediately, thus clear blacks.
That’s about it! Enjoy making ambrotypes or better ambroice, a term coined by Scott Anton.
Last but not least, I thank you for supporting my videos, blog posts and my work on general. You can do that by becoming my Patreon, bidding on my ebay auctions, buying work from me directly, taking my workshops or even sending me a tip on paypal directly. My paypal address is borutpeterlin and every cup of tea is welcome. As I confessed I developed a habit – being an artist…
Again I’m making an Ebay auction and again I’m listing prints that are by my opinion perfect! I hope you like the making-of-video and if you think it’s worthy don’t forget to subscribe, like and share.
And as always: TOPSHIT HAPPENS!!!