Archive for June, 2012

This is a video recording demonstrating the collodion process from start to finish.

Illustrating the immediacy of the process.



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30th May. Over cast. Midday.

I now feel confident to try a larger plate, for many reasons I thought a large plate would be easier to handle flowing the collodion and varnish. However both the camera and the dark slide are very old and tricky to use.

And a large glass plate itself is heavy to twist and handle in and out of the silver bath and also during varnishing.

This is my 12×10 Vageeswari camera.

For it I have made various sized plate inserts to place inside the dark slide to get able to vary my size of final outcome.


5×4 glass plate. f5.6 at 8 seconds, a little over exposed.

Negative 5×4 glass plate. f5.6 at 9 seconds For further print possibilities I have left this image as a negative.

This is a digital inversion of the plate to demonstrate the positive view.

5×4 glass plate f 5.6 at 8 seconds, a little over developed, the developing fluid may have been left on a little too long.

10×8 glass plate. f 4.5 at 8 seconds. Blurred facial movement I need a head stand for portraiture.

10×8 glass plate. Landscape rotation to back of camera.f 4.5 at 5 seconds

This instance the slide is still quite stiff and I did not pull the slide out the full way during exposure, I will know for next time to check this.

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Landscapes and Portraits, on a slightly cloudier day.

28th May

Rory. 5 x4 glass plate. f5.6 at 4 seconds. Midday.

Steve. 5 x4 glass plate. f5.6 at 3 seconds. Midday.

5 x4 glass plate. f8 at 4 seconds. Midday.

5 x4 glass plate. f8at 3 seconds. 14:00. Slight upwards tilt.

Collodion I’ve very fragile and sometimes in the development process the ‘skin’ of the collodion can simple peel off and wash away in the process. I managed to salvage some of the image to demonstrate the remains.

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27th May: The light was very bright so I decided to make the most of it and retrial the MPP this time with portraiture


4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate F 8 4 seconds, very bright light directly on the face. 13:00

4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate. Later in day 16:00 f 5.6 at 5 seconds

4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate later in day f 5.6 6 seconds.

Trial of movement with head still.

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I decided later that day to retrial with much longer exposures, again just working in very close proximity to the fixed darkroom. This limits subject matter but at this point in my exploration it is key that I am assessing progress in process and technique.

The light was slightly less bright after midday and these were taken between 14:00 and 18:00 noting change in light as the day progressed.


4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate f 5.6 2 seconds

4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate f 5.6 3 seconds

4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate f. 5.6, 4 seconds

4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate, f5.6 tilted up 3 seconds, worked feel unfortunately this plate exploded in varnishing process.

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I have recently acquired a large format MPP mark 8 camera that have the capabilities of making 5×4 plates and 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 plates.

As I have discussed in my previous posts, Collodion is very unpredictable and exposure is calculates solely by experience.

Temperature, light, light colour, time are all crucial.

This first trial was completed on the 26th May between 10:00 and 14:00. (set up inclu. in time)

For the duration of the trial the light was very bright and the temperature was getting increasing warmer throughout.

MPP 5×4.

4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate  f 5.6 at 1 second

4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate f 8 at 2 seconds

4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate f5.6 at 2 seconds

4 1/4 x 31/4 glass plate f8 at 3 seconds.

As it was so bright and during my research I have read that beginners tend to over expose I kept the exposures short but the lens wide open only text ins f5.6 and f8.

The results were disappointing as they were very faint, I thought the temperature may have been as issue so I cut the trial short to re think my next trial.

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From the images I took from testing the Harman prototype lenses (see previous post) I have begun in the first trial of many testing Cyanotype printing methods. I used the negatives in a series of different ways on various papers.

All prints were made directly from the 5×4 negatives from both Ilford and Adox films.

The Cyanotype process involves:

Mixing 10g ferric ammonia citrate (green) in 50ml tap water.

Pour in brown stopped bottle and label.

Mixing 4g potassium ferric cyanide in 50 ml tap water.

Pour in brown stopped bottle and label.

Choose and coat paper with a wide brush, note here brush strokes will show on paper.

Dry paper, with a heater I have found is a preferred method.

Expose the coated paper to negative, paper face down on top of negative. Best results using small print down frame at around 650 light units.

Another tip is to put the UV light closer than you normally would to expose a screen.

Watch for yellow green highlights and deep grey shadows.

Wash exposed print in water for 5 to 10 minutes, here I found that over washing can cause to much of the print to wash off. And even though you are using running water do not have image directly under tap.

Dry print.

Images of workshop:

Expose negatives to UV light.

Dry coated paper in heater.

Images hanging to dry.



Conceptually for me the aesthetic of this process works well with the types of images I create and wish to create in the future. The grainy blue hue adds to the sense of melancholia I wish to portray in the imagery. This will be one of many hand crafted printing processes I intend to using in conduction with my collodion work when I explore negative wet plate work but also with my pinhole imagery.

My main overall judgement on the process is that it works best with film negatives at 700 light units on Somerset papers with torn edges. I also this that the water ‘pooling’ effects add to the underwater, under the surface aesthetic quality I want to obtain, although others may not. It is also very important to get two layers of the fluid on the paper as evenly as possible, as one thick layer as the paste is more of a fluid you will get a wavy image (see 3 below).

650 Light Units (approx. 11 minutes.) No cover on negative.

Visible and uneven brush strokes, this is a clear negative but it was very washed out in the rinse at the end.

The aesthetic of the process is very grainy and if the negative or the exposure is not correct you risk ruining the image.


650 Light Units (approx. 11 minutes.) No cover on negative.

I then tried using a more exposed negative, but the effect of the process makes the over exposure nature of the image even more unclear almost murky.

I think aesthetically the torn edge of the paper once coated with the cyanotype fluid gives a pleasing effect.


650 Light Units (approx. 11 minutes.) No cover on negative.

One very thick layer of the solution which obviously dryer in the formation. The effect is interesting but actually takes away from the image. I think on the outer blue area outside of the image the ‘pooling’ effects you see above are actually beneficial to my work, but when they are on the image itself as much as they are on the image above it detracts.

700 Light Units (approx. 15 minutes.) No cover on negative.

The use of card is demonstrated here unfortunately I don’t think the chemical solution ‘took’ as well to the card and when it was rinsed at the end stage of the process it became faint.

700 Light Units (approx. 15 minutes.) Covers on negative. To test is there is much of a difference, unfortunately the writing on the sleeves is undesirable.

Above demonstrates two different focal lengths of the same location in Epping forest, demonstrating that unpredictable abnormalities do occur in the process as the top image is faded on one half possibly from being too near the tap when washed.

800 Light Units (approx. 20 minutes.) No cover on negative.

Longer exposure, leads to darker blues?

Large background demonstrated here.

Several layers of the solution applied and dried in oven

Not applying the solution right to edge of paper works well, interesting effect gain in surrounding deep blue area from several layers drying quickly in oven. The paper bends and twists as it dries causing these effects.

800 Light Units (approx. 15 minutes.) No cover on negative.

This negative works well as it demonstrates brilliant white highlights and deep shadows causing a contrast that works well in the process.

This is Somerset paper and I think this is the paper that reflects the grainy quality of the process probably the best, the other images appear slightly flat in my opinion.

Again I think I prefer the fluid to either be right towards the edge of the paper I don’t think I like the uneven brush strokes it makes the application elements  of the process appear very obvious.




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