May 2010

Monthly Archive

Ambrotypes

Posted by on 28 May 2010 | Tagged as: Ambrotype

Plates drying on a rack.

Today I made a few new clear glass ambrotype plates. I used two separate collodion formulae, one called “New Guy” and the other  “Old Guy” recipe by Quinn Jacobson. The difference between them is in using different salts to iodize the plate before it gets sensitized by solution of silver nitrate. Both have some cadmium bromide in them, and The New Guy uses ammonium iodide vs. Old Guy’s potassium iodide.

It appears from different sources that collodion containing ammonium iodide is sometimes prone to peeling off the plate, if the glass is not cleaned extremely well. That’s what happend with a couple of plates when I used the New Guy formula. At its worst, the collodion layer would totally float away in the fixer or wash.

New Guy collodion, lens: 380mm, F:13 (a rear element of a process camera lens), exposure: 8 sec. This picture was taken through a window – it was a rainy and windy, low contrast  day outside.


Old Guy collodion, lens: 300mm F:5, exposure: 12 sec.


Jalo Porkkala: Jukka, clear glass ambrotype.
Old Guy collodion, lens: 300mm F:5, exposure: 18 sec.


Varnish Vanish

Posted by on 23 May 2010 | Tagged as: Ambrotype

I had my first try with modern varnishes instead of the traditional sandarac varnish that they used in the 19th century. I tried to varnish two plates, one with Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish and the other one with Louvre Medium – Glossy Varnish. But, I’m a beginner with this… and messed badly – no results to show here, the plates went to bin!

Liquitex was so thick it would not flow on the plate, just sat there as a pool. I had to pour more and more to get it flowing, and finally I had poured away almost half of the small bottle. The varnish formed a thick, milky semi-transparent layer on the plate, and I had to leave the plate dripping on a rack for a long time. When it slowly dried (during the weekend) the varnish became clear and glossy, but the layer remained thick, uneven and ugly. Liquitex can be diluted with water, and that’s what I’m going to do if I ever try it again.

Louvre varnish had much better viscosity, easier to pour, and flowed better. But I poured too much again, and had a hard time dripping the plate… but the resulting varnish layer was a bit thinner and smoother this time. I will need to shoot more plates to try these varnishes more.