Ambrotype

Archived Posts from this Category

TTW Measuring

Posted by on 12 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: Ambrotype

Found another nice looking lens from a dump – it’s in a good condition, could be from an OHP or such…

So, I cleaned it and made a simple cardboard lens board to be able to use it on a view camera…

Tried to figure out the focal length and aperture… I put the lens on Tachihara 8×10 camera and made some viewing tests. The focal length seems to be 300 mm and the aperture about f:5. So, a nice and fast lens — and will easily cover 8×10, allowing quite a lot of camera movements too! I’m hoping to use it for wetplates some day.

By the way, the lens measurements were done with a view camera TTW (“Thru The Window”) 😉 , because it is so damn cold outside: -25 C / -13 F.

Bonding Acrylic

Posted by on 02 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: Ambrotype

Finally got my acrylic sheets — 5 mm thick and cut to sizes. All I had to do was glue the pieces together (with Acrifix 106 adhesive) to build my silver bath tank. The glue has now fully dried, and after the first tests the tank seems to hold water, with no leaks! 🙂

The sheets of red transparent acrylic and a bottle of adhesive for building the silverbath tank.

The first peaces of acrylic bonded.

Testing the tank with water — no leaks so far…

Silver Bath Tank

Posted by on 26 Nov 2009 | Tagged as: Ambrotype

Conceptual images of a silver bath tank for collodion wet plates. After iodized collodion is poured on a plate it is sensitized by dipping into a silver bath. The plate will then get light sensitive. The silver bath tank will need to be light-tight, OR made of transparent red material (if one wishes to work with lights on while the plate is being sensitized).

Our plan is to purchase pieces of red Plexiglass (8 mm thick) from a local supplier, then glue them together. This will be a simple tank (with a lid) for plates up to 8×10″ size.

Looks like we little by little are getting the stuff needed for our first collodion pour!

Shooting Paper Negative

Posted by on 13 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Ambrotype

Two quick tests with the home-made F:6,7/400mm singlet lens. After sending the previous post I quickly realized that the other lens that I made of two elements was not correctly contstructed – it could not cover the 8 by 10 inches image area. So, I will need to build it again… I think what I’m going to do is make another tube to put the lens elements in, and bring them closer to each other. The fine thing about a cardboard tube is that I can easily try different lens combinations…

An 8×10″ photo paper was rated ISO 6 and exposed in camera for one second. The paper was Ilford MGIV RC, developed in Dektol. The resulting negative was then scanned and inverted to positive in Photoshop.

Another shot with a four second exposure (ISO 6).

I’m quite pleased with this primitive lens, at least the price-quality ratio is nice 😉 . In the test pictures the geometric distortions are surprisingly low, and there’s not too much light fall or blurriness to the corners.

Other tests that I made showed that my wooden plate holder (see the previous post) should work ok, it won’t leak light! Now I can’t wait for the real wet plate tests…

Wet Plate Dreams

Posted by on 10 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Ambrotype

Maybe I would like to try collodion wet plate photography, IF I only had a camera and a lens for that purpose, and IF I had a wet plate holder for the camera, and IF I could acquire all the chemicals and stuff here in Finland, and IF I could construct some kind of portable darkroom for processing the plates, and so on…

Quite many “if”s there, when dreaming of wet plate photography! Yet, there are some very special qualities in a collodion wet plate photograph (particularly in a glass ambrotype) that you can’t find in any other photographic image. I guess the success in the process is very much dependent on the photographer’s chemistry and darkroom skills. You expose the final plates in camera, so you need to use a large format camera to get large format images. Plus, if you want to create something noteworthy with the process, you will have to be an artist as well… 😉

Anyway, I added the “Ambrotype” tag on the sidebar, with intent on giving the wet plate process a try. I’ll be doing this now and then, and between other tasks. I have already ordered some chemicals from a Finnish supplier and Artcraft Chemicals from USA.

But first things first – I have to make sure that my camera suits wet plate working. I have an older Tachihara 8×10″ wooden view camera, no lens. The camera should be just fine for starting wet plate work, and maybe I could build a lens myself for the first tests.

I also need a special plate holder; can’t use the standard 8 by 10″ film holder. But a conventional two-sided film holder can be modified by cutting an opening for a glass plate. This is just what I did to an old wooden sheet film holder.

Here’s my old wooden sheet film holder with the dark slides removed. On the left I have cut a hole out of the septum, and (on the right) inserted silver wires to each corner to hold the glass plate. I also had to make other minor modifications, because the holder’s dimensions are a bit different from modern 8×10 holders.

A few years ago, inspired by Alan Greene‘s excellent book Primitive Photography – A Guide to Making Cameras, Lenses, and Calotypes – I ordered three inexpensive positive meniscus lenses from Surplus Shed. I haven’t used the lenses since, but now, by loosely following Greene’s instructions I built two lens systems for my Tachihara; one is a single element “landscape” lens with focal length of 400 mm and aperture of F:6.7. The other one is made of two identical positive lenses, so it is a kind of symmetrical 200 mm duplet lens. These are very much prototypes, built into cardboard tubes (actually Pringles potato snack cans) painted with matte black spray. Greene recommends PVC tube for lens building, which is a good idea, but I thought I’d make some quick tests first with very simple construction.

Basic materials for building simple lens objectives for a view camera: Pringles cans with caps, cheap lenses, black foam-core, some glue, a cutting knife, and matte black spray paint.
On the left I have some building material, and on the right the finished 200mm duplet and 400mm landscape type lenses, separate interchangeable stops (made of Pringles caps) and a lens cap (which is just a coffee jar cover painted black).

Tachihara 8×10″, equipped with the 400mm lens.

Very soon I’m going to shoot some paper negative tests to see if my plate holder is light tight… and to find out how my new lenses perform!

« Previous Page