Getting into Wet Plate - UV Photografic Any Good?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Colorado CJ, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. Colorado CJ

    Colorado CJ Member

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    I'm wanting to get into wet plate photography. I might do a little glass plate, but I think anodized aluminum is what I will mostly be using.

    I was looking through the various wet plate kits available and found a kit that UV Photographics sells: http://uvphotographics.com/wet-plate-collodion-starter-kit-large/

    Its cheaper than the Bostick and Sullivan kit and gives you various collodion options.

    I was wondering if anyone as used the UV Photographics kit, and if so, which Collodion do you prefer?

    Any other tricks and tips you'd recommend would be helpful as well.

    I can't wait to start shooting wet plate!
     
  2. paulbarden

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    CJ,
    I buy materials from both B&S and UV Photographics, and both sell excellent materials. Yes, the price is better at UV Photographics and I can assure you that there is no compromise in quality in the UVP products. I like the fact that Brian at UVP offers several unique formulas of Collodion, and you can buy 250ml quantities of several to compare their characteristics. (When you’re ready to experiment with the various formulas, be sure to sample Brian’s UVP-X, which has beautiful tonality and is much faster than any other collodion I've tried)

    My original kit for 8x10 wet plate came from B&S and it was an excellent kit, with high quality materials. I learned a lot using that starter kit, and it’s as complete a kit as you could wish for. The starter kit from UV Photographics is $100 less than the B&S kit, but it doesn’t include all of the same materials and accessories that the B&S kit does, such as pH strips, a hygrometer, nitric acid, amino silane (for better adhesion on glass), calcium carbonate (for glass cleaning) etc. This is why the B&S starter kit costs more. Given the choice between the two kits, I’d still choose the one from B&S because it is more complete. But for subsequent purchases of collodion and other materials, I choose UV Photographics, partly because prices are a bit better, and partly because I get to choose from a variety of prepared collodion formulations.
    As for a choice of collodion to start with, ask yourself this: do you think you will use up 500 ml of collodion within your first month of learning the technique? Because several of UVP’s collodion mixes are best when fresh, whereas some like UVP-X are good for up to a year. The Bostick & Sullivan (large) kit comes with 650 ml of Old Workhorse that is premixed, so it’s shelf life is limited. Expect it to remain in usable condition for 6 months at most, and you can easily get 50 plates from that amount of collodion. If you don’t think you’ll use that up in six months or less, then the B&S kit may not be right for you. (I didn't use up the whole 650ml of Old Workhorse before it became too old)

    Do you have a good manual on wet plate technique yet? You really should get a copy of Mark Osterman's book; Basic Collodion Technique.
    Also, John Towler's classic 1864 volume The Silver Sunbeam is available to study online (but perhaps best explored after you've absorbed a more basic manual). You can find The Silver Sunbeam here.

    Now, what about your plate holder? Do you have one already, or will you be shopping for one? My first plate holder was a typical Lisco 8X10 film holder that I sent to Lund Photographics for modification to convert it for wet plate use, and they did a great job for a reasonable price. But their conversion doesn't make use of the whole 8X10 inches, so you have to buy aluminum plate (or glass) cut to the specific size for their conversion, which for an 8X10 plate holder is 7.5" X 9.25". This isn't a problem, I am just mentioning it so that you realize what your options are. I also recently bought an full-sized 8X10 wet plate holder from Chamonix in China, and its an excellent plate holder, well designed and uses the full 8X10 inches. It is also a beautiful piece of hardware.

    Do you know where you will be buying aluminum plate for making your tintypes? Both B&S and Lund sell aluminum trophy plate cut down to specified sizes, and this trophy plate material is what most everyone uses these days. (Its easy, inexpensive, and less work than glass, which requires a specific cleaning protocol). B&S offers large sheets of trophy plate that you can cut down yourself, or precut sizes. The price from B&S is over $3 per 8X10 plate, whereas Lund Photographic sells them in packs of 25 for about $2 per plate. The choice is yours.

    A recent 8X10 plate I made using freshly mixed Old Workhorse from B&S:
    [​IMG]

    (Click here for a larger version)
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  3. OP
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    Colorado CJ

    Colorado CJ Member

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    Wow, thanks for the excellent post Paul! I think I'm going to go with the UV Photographic kit since I can select a two part collodion and just mix small batches as needed.

    Right now I just have a 4x5 and I'll probably just convert a film holder. I might buy a Chimonix 4x5 wet plate holder. I am on the lookout for a Kodak 8x10 though.

    I am definitely going to use the trophy plate so I'll look at b&s as well as Lund.

    What is you favorite collodion from UV Photographic? Speed might be pretty important for me as I want to do a lot of landscapes and some natural light portraits.

    Oh and I've followed you on Flickr for a couple of years now.
     
  4. paulbarden

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    Happy to be of service, CJ.
    So far I’ve used only Old Workhorse and UVP-X, and both are great, just different. For landscapes, you don’t need speed so you could choose almost any formula. But for portraiture under natural (soft) light, you want speed, in which case I’d start with UVP-X. Its a good idea to try a few formulas as you go, to see what feels right for you.

    What’s your handle on Flickr?

    Paul
     
  5. OP
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    Colorado CJ

    Colorado CJ Member

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    Thanks.

    One more question. I'm thinking on using the UV Photographics Iron Copper developer instead of the normal one. Their page says it gives brighter whites for positive plates, and that is what I'll be shooting. Does that sound like a good idea?

    My handle on Flickr is the same as here Colorado CJ, or by my name, Andrew Marjama
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
  6. paulbarden

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    Andrew,
    I’ve only ever used a standard Iron developer, so I can’t offer you an opinion on the UV copper/iron variant. The difference it’s going to make is going to be subtle, I expect. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t try it, but I urge you to work with “standard” formulas too, so you can appreciate the differences each formula offers. If you go into collodion work hoping to emulate the tonal range of other materials, you may be coming at it from the wrong perspective. Wet plate collodion images have a specific look, and the various formulations of chemistry can only affect the results to a small degree. As you gain experience with the technique, you will start to appreciate the subtleties, but for someone starting out I would suggest starting with basic materials and learn the standards first. IE: learn to walk before you run

    Have you taken a workshop with a practitioner yet? It’s reccommended. Reading the manuals and watching YouTube videos is helpful, but having someone walk you through the process in person is very helpful. The wet plate materials pose health and handling risks, and it’s important to learn how to work with the stuff without putting yourself in harms way.

    PS: I’ve experimented with alternative varnishing methods, and comparing traditional Sandarac varnish with a modern acrylic varnish (I use Liquitex Professional Gloss Varnish), I can tell you that a modern acrylic varnish is easier to apply and it doesn’t darken your plates as much as Sandarac does. (But acrylic doesn’t add that pleasant coffee colored warmth that Sandarac does either, so it’s good to try both to see what you prefer) The acrylic varnish leaves your plates with a brighter overall look.
     
  7. paulbarden

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    Andrew,
    I suggest you take a look at this article by Anton Orlov, who has gone to great effort to test various materials in his personal search for the perfect tintype.
     
  8. OP
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    Colorado CJ

    Colorado CJ Member

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    My first wet plate!

    My aluminum came in, so I shot my first plate. Pouring the collodion is going to take some time to learn. I don't have a proper silver tank yet, so I just sensitized the plate in a 5x7 tray.

    This was just a test shot, so I just took a photo of a tree outside my shop.

    Shot using Lea's Landscape collodion.

    [​IMG]Tintype Test 1 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr
     
  9. Brickbird

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    Very nice first attempt, CJ.
     
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