My Backyard

Two Fridays ago I had a day off as I had to prep the collodion demo for the TedX event. It was gorgeous weather and for the first time in our new place I had the time and opportunity to shoot some collodion wet plates! Our garden is really pretty (to me at least) and thought it would make for a great start of this season. Spring has arrived and all kinds of lovely flowers and leaves are exploding from out of nowhere. Quite different from our previous garden where most of it consisted of stone haha!

shoot

This was also the first session after the dry plate collodion workshop and I cleaned the plates much thorougher than I did before. It certainly paid off! No need to use rotten stone with black glass, or sub the plates either when you take your time to clean them properly without taking short cuts. I first cleaned them with much more calcium carbonate solution than I used to do. After that I made sure the ridges where absolutely free of excess cleaning substance and I polished them with a clean cloth, like really long. Worked like magic 🙂 First time proper real usage of my darkroom! Happy as a goose 🙂

darkroom

The images are on 8×10″ black glass, photographed using my good-ole Steinheil lens, aperture at around 16. Exposure times were around 4 seconds.

flower1_LR flower2_LR flower3_LR flower4_LR garden_LR

 

The contrast in light on the last plate (which I actually did first) is a little too high. But I like it anyway 🙂 Of course, what comes after shooting and drying is varnishing the plates. Instead of heating each plate using the alcohol burner I decided to place them on a tray warmer. I have one that can hold 5 8×10″ plates at the same time. This works really well! Saved quite a bit of time.

varnish

 

I know my varnish gave a bit of issues the last time I used it so kind of expected it to really act up now. It did. Always make sure you varnish a test plate first before doing the real ones! It dissolved the image and looks like the following image:

wasted_LR

 

It was a plate of the garden but an overexposed one so no loss there, just a funny example of what varnish can do 🙂 I added a bit of distilled water to my varnish and the problem was solved. The rest of the plates looked just fine. As far as the specific why goes…don’t know. The alcohol in the varnish perhaps collides with an older collodion used to make the plates (same alcohol in both solutions though)? As long as I know how to solve it I don’t see a problem. I love this varnish too much to use the other horrible smelling alternatives. And the traditional Sandarac varnish is a proved recipe; why change a winning team?

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4 responses

  1. Gam

    Great work!

    Could you please share the tray warmer make and model? Clever way to heat up the plates.

    April 9, 2014 at 10:14

    • Thanks! It’s a Photax Dish Warmer 4. It works really well and very nice you can heat more than one plate at a time.

      April 9, 2014 at 20:36

  2. Mike

    I’m having a serious varnish-melting-my-collodion problem at the moment. Could you share any suggestions on how much water to add to my varnish?

    Thanks!

    September 24, 2015 at 03:16

    • Find that hard to say Mike. I normally add a couple of ml of water to a single-plate varnish amount. I’d make some tests as to how much water would work for you.
      Do you have any idea on why you’re having issues with the varnish? It’s a nasty problem. I always varnish a test plate before doing the proper ones to keep from losing precious plates..Good luck!

      October 13, 2015 at 23:13

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