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!
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 🙂
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.
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.
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:
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?
A couple of days ago my dad-in-law gave us a rabbit meat he bought in Belgium. It came together with a head. I thought it to be a shame to throw that away so I boiled it clean in water along with some sodium bicarbonate a.k.a. baking soda. That went pretty well. Since I had to test my freshly made collodion for a demo I’ll be giving next week at Galerie Weert I needed a subject anyway so the timing was rather well.
I set up the upper part of the head (upper because it was being kept together by the flesh which by now had been boiled off, have to attach all the parts again but no time) on a candle holder and photographed in studio.
The freshly collodion formula I made is the standard Collodion formula by Scully & Osterman which I’ll be using from now on. It goes as following:
155ml ether (56ml)
236ml plain USP Collodion (305ml)
3g cadmium bromide
8ml distilled water
Add ether to a 500ml bottle with plain collodion. Cap it and shake until cotton-like swirls will disappear.
Place cadmium bromide in a glass beaker, add distilled water and break the bromide (it tends to cake up) with a glass rod until completely dissolved.
Slowly add the bromide solution to collodion mixture.
4g potassium iodide
155ml Ethanol (186ml)
I made this one before but the problem was that only had a little USP collodion and 1 liter of UHB collodion (which I bought in Poland as it’s a lot cheaper). Only the ratio ether / alcohol is substantially different than the USP version and when I first made I had no conversion formula. I thought, oh what the heck, I’ll just make it as I do the USP and use the two different collodions to make up a liter. Stupid me! Of course that wouldn’t work. So, I had to make a new batch. Jeroen de Wijs was so kind as to provide me with the conversions so this batch worked like a charm! The converted amount is behind the regular quantity needed when using USP between the (..).
I’m all set for the demo next week!
Really happy to have made a plate after a long time. My schedule is sooooo busy I hardly had time to do something “alternative” with my time. Next year that’ll definitely change (otherwise I’ll go frikkin NUTS!)