Wet Plate Collodion

The wet plate collodion process is a very intens way of making a photograph. There are no ISO-settings (fixed around 0.5), nearly no aperture possibilities and speed is measured by removing the lenscap. The sensitized plate only reacts to bleu and ultraviolet light. The chemicals need to be prepared by the photographer himself because the products needed are no longer available in shops.

Every step could result in a failure. Every step is equally important and has to be done with utmost concentration.

During the whole procedure, from pouring collodion untill wash, the plate has to remain wet (hence the name “wet plate collodion”). If by any circumstance the plate starts to dry, the image cannot be developed and so the image is lost. Cleaning a plate demands the same amount of concentration as taking the photo in the camera. Every mistake might result in a failure, every fault in the composition of the chemicals, can result in various unwanted results.

But the unwanted, unforseen “failures” are the most interesting. It is the reason why I prefer this above digital photography.