All posts in Alternative Processes

SILVER & LIGHT Wet Plate Project by IAN RUHTER

This is a “must see video” and you won’t be disappointed!

Be sure to check out Ian’s Tumblr site too:

The Impossible Project, New York City

I hope to make time during my next trip to New York to visit the Impossible Project Gallery and Store in New York. I’ll be attending the Phase One Conference with Digital Transitions March 19-20. I’ll be sure and inquire about the availability of 8X10 and 4X5 instant film while I’m there.



The brand new Impossible Project Space in New York City is the first Impossible shop in the USA. It is Impossible’s American heart, center and starting point for all passionate lovers of analog Instant Photography.

Located in a spacious 5th floor loft in a SoHo landmark building, this unique space features a retail and exhibition space. Visit us here to purchase all kinds of Polaroid cameras, films, accessories and books.


Monday – Friday 11:00am to 7:00pm
Saturday and Sunday 12:00pm to 5:00pm


425 Broadway, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-3254 / (888) 250-6020

Center for Alternative Photography Workshops

My friend and Daguerrotype trading partner, Jeremy Rowe, has asked if I’ll post and update the workshop schedule for the Center for Alternative Photography (CAP) in New York.

Workshop schedule Spring 2011

CAP: The Collotype: Ed Fausty, June 4-5, 11-12 (Two Weekends)
Instructor’s work:

CAP: Wet Plate Printing: Keliy Anderson-Staley, June 18-19
Instructor’s work:

Workshop schedule Summer 2011

CAP: Intro to Wet Plate Collodion: Lisa Elmaleh, July 2-3
Instructor’s work:

CAP: Platinum Printing: Carl Weese, August 13-14
Instructor’s work:

The Wet Plate Process

I’ve recently noticed many photographers investigating vintage collodion or wet plate processes. The 19th century invention of Frederick Scott Archer, wet plate glass negatives, have a look all their own. Many contemporary artists are working within the wet plate process to make some extraordinary “vintage” images in our modern time.

Collodion is a process which involves dissolving nitro cellulose, also known as ‘guncotton’, in ether.  This solution is then poured onto a well cleaned glass plate and spread around the glass by tilting back and forth until the glass plate is evenly coated.  It’s then dipped into silver nitrate and loaded into a film/plate holder while still wet.

With the camera having been already focused and readied to shoot, the holder is inserted into the camera and exposed.  This process had to be accomplished quickly, as drying out ruins the coated plate. It is then processed as a normal negative would be for an excellent result.

Because of the volatility of ether, many photographers died – in fact on average, 1 photographer died per week in the 19th century due to some facet of the wet plate process.  Another cause of death was the use of liquid silver nitrate, which left your hands blackened.  The ‘quick’ remedy to remove the black stain was to rub your hands with a cyanide crystal, potentially fatal if you had a scratch on a finger or hang nail.

The wet collodion process held sway from the late 1850’s until the 1880’s when dry plates became readily available.

Watch this excellent video filming Luther Gerlach working on location with wet plates.

Amelie and Alchemy from Konstantin Brazhnik on Vimeo.

An antiquarian man. A contemporary daughter. For 15 seconds two worlds collide and from the black arts emerges poetry.

Another video worth watching – Rob Kendrick Tintypes
Robb Kendrick – The Tintype Process

More good stuff here – Sally Mann discussing a wet plate project. Video from the NPR website:
Sally Mann, From Lens to Photo

For more information about the collodion process and other alternative processes, visit these sites: