© 2012 Fourtoes MarsdenNegCrop

Did I mention it was cold…

Steph took the day off today and suggested we go shoot some plates. When I say we I mean me, she sits in the warm van reading the newspaper whilst drinking coffee. Me, I freeze my butt off making plates. We headed over to Marsden as theres a couple of old cotton mills Ive been meaning to shoot for a while. If you’ve been reading recent posts we’ve been having quality control problems in the studio more than likely to do with temperature, resulting in some weird streaking on the plates. On warming the silver bath and collodion it does seem to lessen.

Thats all well and good in the studio but how do I do that in the darkbox in the back of my van? The answer…a hot water bottle and a cool? bag. It seemed to do the trick until it lost its heat. It didn’t get much over 1C and at one point couldn’t really feel my fingers it was that cold. Trying to pour collodion onto the plates got a little tricky and messy by this stage, let alone trying to get an even dev pour.

Trying to get the correct exposure was a tad tricky also, highlights in the sky, bright sunshine on parts of the building with deep shadows in others…worth a try though. Heres the results.

Exposure were all over the place. f8 from 12 to 30 seconds and F16 for 60 seconds. Some of the CGA’s are over exposed and scan better as negs.

5×7 tins and clear glass ambros. You can make out the streaking problem on all of the plates but nothing as bad as when in the studio. Roll on springtime.



Over exposed ambrotype…

…scanned as a neg.

I’m really interested in shooting some 12×15 plates of these mills but maybe when its a little warmer.

Also its maybe not a good idea to park my van opposite the local primary school as I was getting some weird looks off passers-by and the teachers. One even asked me what exactly I was shooting……I quickly explained it was the mill and I wasn’t some weirdo. They still looked at me as if I was odd.



  1. Posted January 17, 2012 at 10:00 PM | #

    I really like this tintype :)

  2. Tricia woodhouse
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 10:36 PM | #

    I can vouch that you are a weirdo,if you like. Love the images, and hope the I can come to you part of the world and do some photography with you in Feb??? Do you have a window in your diary????

  3. Tricia woodhouse
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 10:39 PM | #

    Try ‘your part of the world’ ….let me know!

  4. Posted January 17, 2012 at 11:14 PM | #

    Hi Trish, 20 -24th is good for me if your around.

  5. Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:53 AM | #

    Thanks Damian.

  6. Posted January 20, 2012 at 8:03 AM | #

    I also did a test how does it work to photograph at around 4C and I was OK. It’s also true that I was a polar bear in past life so I definitely prefer cold then hot weather. My process was OK. I didn’t even heat it up. I can’t see the “streaking” effect you’re mentioning. Anyway great picture! I love the difference between ambrotype and scanned negative. I’m off to downtown to try out my “new” lens Rodenstock Bistigmat 18×24. Another weirdo :-) It’s 6C, that’s damn hot for a January!

  7. Posted January 20, 2012 at 11:44 AM | #

    Hi Borut, The streaks on these plates are there but you’d have to know what to look for as they blend in a little with the natural streaks on the linking walkways, the streaks are more evident in previous plates posted.

    And remember an ambrotype is basically an under exposed collodion negative, so if you over expose an ambrotype your closer to a neg than your originally intended positive ambrotype. Thats why I scanned that particular plate as a neg rather than reflective.

    I’ve read a couple of theories for the streaking although from books written at the time of the processes origins. I’ll try these first to see if it makes a difference and then I’ll do some major maintenance on my silver bath.

    As usual good to hear from you and keep up the good work on your blog.


  8. Posted January 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM | #

    Of course, you are right! And I was wondering how is it possible that I overexpose a negative for 3 times and I still get a decent negative. Ambrotype sucks, but negative is alright. Sorry I get excited, I’m new in this and when I notice something by myself and then somebody else explain it to me, I feel like I’m on a right track :-)
    This week I had to give a borrowed camera back and bought a “new” one from ebay. I’ll need to refurbish it and then I’ll post some new images.
    Thx for the info!

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