If new dry plates were available, would you try them?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by opticman, Dec 23, 2017.


Interest in trying dry plates?

  1. No, even if I had plate holders

    3 vote(s)
  2. Yes, 4"x5"

    3 vote(s)
  3. Yes, 5"x7"

    2 vote(s)
  4. Yes, 8"x10"

    0 vote(s)
  5. Yes, half-plate

    0 vote(s)
  6. Yes, other size (specify)

    1 vote(s)
  1. Hi,

    I've been making and perfecting dry plates coated with my own emulsion for a couple years now, using them to create photographs and prints that have been popular locally. You can see some in my gallery here. The emulsion is ~ISO 2, and has a normal sensitivity (sees UV and blue) with a very old-style look.

    The plates can be tray developed under a safelight similar to developing prints (except I use HC-110 Dil B), so no special equipment is needed.

    I posted classifieds (not here) to sell some boxes of spare plates to others to use, and they sold surprisingly quickly with inquiries about whether I had more to sell.

    In light of that, I figured it might be fun to see how interested people are in trying out plates or have tried them with a "normal" slow, virtually grainless emulsion such as you'd use in the late 1880s.

    So I set up a poll. I shoot 4"x5", but I'm sure other folks shoot other sizes.

    If newly made dry plates were available , would you be tempted to try them out?
  2. It would be interesting to try, but in the grand scheme of things I'd like to do, it's low on the list. Nor do I have plate holders. Something more interesting would be a multi-coated emulsion like the old Ektapan- got some nice shots on that stuff.
  3. If I shoot LF it's for the lens movements and image quality, not for nostalgic reasons. I've no interest in progressing backwards.
    john grunke and eugen_mezei like this.
  4. I have two 4x5 holders that I dug out of a deep, dark corner at my favorite local shop. I bought them with the intention of learning wet plate, but have yet to find the time/energy to do it.

    If I could play with plates in a "normal" darkroom for a halfway reasonable price, I'd be all over it.

    Please let me know if you do sell some more, and I'd buy them(4x5 please, although I wouldn't rule out 8x10 in the future).
  5. I'd like to try them, but I don't have plate holders. Well, I think I have one for an old Graphic (camera doesn't work and I don't think the holder will fit the newer ones). I'd be more likely to try 5x7 because a contact print in that size would be nice.
  6. OT reply first: The plate size I'm missing most would be 5x5cm for projection positives.
    I seem to own some plate holders with film sheaths in 6.5x9 & 13x18cm. Being somehow on a budged I might feel urged to stick to film.
  7. Yes, but in 5x7 and/or 8x10 as I mostly just do contact printing. (thanks for the post)...
  8. There was a Kickstarter for dry plates but the creators went dark and disappeared on the backers. In my opinion Kickstarter needs to refuse to deal with any project creators without a physical and confirmed address. This address is published and available to all backers. The backers have a right to know where these jokers sleep and project creators need to be at least a little afraid of being confronted face to face with irate backers whose money they have taken on promise of a reward and then when things go wrong, refuse to own the problem and instead just slink off like cowards.
  9. I have two boxes of plates from the OP sitting on my coffee table, so I can assure you that he both has them and has the ability to deliver.
  10. I'm set to start playing once I get the holders loaded. I'll probably load one holder this evening and shoot it tomorrow.

  11. Well, unfortunately, my plate holders don't fit either of my 4x5 cameras...

    They're too wide.

    Back to the drawing board.
  12. Update: So after posting here, I spent most of Holiday vacation making plates to keep up with the subsequent demand. I estimate 40+ boxes of plates have been sold in the past 10 days, mostly in 4x5 but other sizes as well including custom orders as large as 12"x20". I've been making emulsion like crazy and scrambling for glass and boxes for packaging (I've never stressed out about boxes before). I am in the process of setting up listings on my Etsy storefront to make it easier for people to place orders, and I can also be contacted for specific requests. So it's been pretty awesome that there's so much interest in dry plates... that type of process has been the red-headed step-child of alternative process photography for a long time.


    While searching, I stumbled across information about that Kickstarter last year that the poster above mentions. I didn't even know they existed. It's too bad because they met their threshold and there were a lot of folks interested in plates that they disappointed.

    In any case, I'm an optical engineer (lens designer) who was making plates for my own use up until two weeks ago, and instead of a nice relaxing holiday was busy meeting the surprising demand. My wife is happy that I can cover cost of my photography hobby, at the very least. A win-win all around!

  13. Good on ya'!

    If I still had a large format camera that worked, I would try your plates. Success to you.

    A few years back there was a fellow in my town actually doing and teaching wet-plate photography.

    I was very tempted.
  14. I got hung up on the collodion. I tried to make it myself, but there's a fine line between nitrating it too little(explosive), getting it just right, and nitrating it too much(will polymerize to the point of being unusable). Right now, I have a beaker from my last attempt that has some syrupy stuff and some cotton balls in the bottom of it. Since I've let it go dry, it's probably fairly inert unuseable stuff, but I haven't been in TOO big of a hurry to find out.

    If I ever actually do it, I'll just buy the stuff. My first attempt was dipping cotton balls in a mixture of conc. nitric and sulfuric(the traditional "nitrating acid" mixture) and then dropping them in alcohol/either but it went way too far. This batch was potassium nitrate mixed with sulfuric acid and then the cotton balls just very lightly "swiped" with them before dropping in alcohol/ether but I think I ended up with a part of the ball that was way too nitrated and the rest with no nitration.

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