Introduction to Wet Plate 

Collodion Photography



About Wet Plate Collodion Photography



Wet Plate Collodion Photography is a process that utilizes chemistry to create an image from scratch on metal or glass.  The photographer is in charge of creating their image by hand from start to finish.  Positives on metal, or tintype photographs, as they are more commonly known, are familiar – much of your civil war era imagery, up until the early 1900s, utilized this process in its creation.  This process is responsible for many historic negatives on glass, as well – photographers like William Henry Jackson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Gustave LeGrey, and Lady Clementina Hawarden all utilized wet plate collodion for their glass negative work.  



About the workshop

This class will teach students how to create tintypes (positives on tin), ambrotypes (positives on glass), and glass negatives using chemistry and a basic outdoor darkroom.  The “darkroom” in this case is a makeshift dark space utilized for chemical sensitizing and processing.  Each student will work one-on-one with the teacher in the “darkroom” – and images will be made using large format cameras outside.  There is no prior photography experience required – all are welcome!  


All materials and cameras will be provided, but if you would like to bring your own 4”x5” camera or any other materials to work with, you are welcome to do so.  

This class is limited to 4 students.  



Lodging


Camping is free on my property, but note that there is no running water, and there is a primitive outhouse.  There is a running creek that flows beside the house, and you are welcome to use that to wash up.  


If you are not into camping, there are some local motels and Airbnbs.  (Click here for more information.)


This is a 3-day workshop.

Day 1 
The workshop will begin with an orientation of the history and contemporary uses of the wet plate process, followed by a break for lunch, followed by an orientation to the process itself.  Each student will make at least one (but usually more) tintype plate by the end of the day.


Day 2 
A review of the photographic plates from day 1, followed by a chemical mixing demo, followed by an introduction to using glass – students will be welcome to make tintypes or glass plates for the entirety of the day.


Day 3 
A full day of making 4x5" photographs with an additional option to purchase 8x10 plates for larger format photo making at a rate of $25 per plate.  At the end of the day, plates will be varnished to take home.  There will be a culminating critique at the end of class, where we will marvel in all of the work we have done together.  




Lisa Elmaleh Photography

Lisa Elmaleh, 1984, USA, lives in West Virginia, and is a photographer who uses an 8x10 large format camera, the wet plate collodion process, and travels the country in a red pickup truck working in the Everglades and Appalachia.
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