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Introduction to Wet Plate Photography

Dallas Center for Photography

In the beginning, before digital and before film, there was wet plate. It was a challenging process that merged optics and chemistry into the new art form of photography. The wet plate process is being re-discovered by visual artists at all levels of accomplishment as a way to reconnect with photography at the elemental level, while creating one of a kind images that enchant both subject and photographer. There is a level of depth, detail and clarity in a well executed wet plate image that is unsurpassed by modern photographic techniques.

This intensive course will dive into wet plate collodion, which was the leading process of photography in the 1850s and ’60s. It was used to document the Civil War and to create the portraits of Abraham Lincoln. The process is most commonly known in its three forms—tintypes (positives on tin), ambrotypes (positives on glass), and glass negatives (negatives on glass).

The basics of the collodion process will be covered and topics will include:

  • Hand coating collodion plates: preparing the plate, cleaning glass, pouring collodion
  • Creating wet collodion images: exposing, developing, fixing and varnishing
  • Safely mixing the chemistry
  • Building a darkroom and modifying cameras for the process
  • Printing pre-existing imagery using an enlarger onto wet collodion plates
  • Experimentation will be strongly encouraged.

Each student will leave with 3-6 wet plate collodion images at the end of this unique workshop.

Workshop participants do not need previous photography or darkroom experience. We’ll be using DCP’s Graflex Crown Graphic 4×5 cameras. All equipment and supplies including cameras, lighting, glass and metal plates, holders and chemistry will be supplied. We’ll also have aprons, goggles, gloves and other safety equipment on hand.

Official Site  

  • $525-$595
Box Office
  • 214-630-4909

4756 Algiers Street · Dallas, TX 75207