Giovanni – A wet plate tutorial workshop.

Giovanni had no previous background in photography, his interest in wet plate came about as a distraction from his PhD studies in Rural Development. His enthusiasm soon outweighed any lack of photographic experience. Quickly understanding the fundamentals of photography and the theory of wet plate.

Okay so off we go with the first pour.

First off with my 5×7 camera and 1/4 plate inserts. Ambrotypes (clear and black), tintypes and “Traffolytes”? (a laminated plastic used by engravers).
Darlot cone lens. First batch window light, not good in Manchester on a wet winters day. The rest with artificial lighting. F4 four seconds.




As with most students of wet plate, the challenge of pouring collodion (and dev) in hand proved a bit tricky but by the end of the day he soon got the hang of it.

Some 5×4 ambrotypes/tinypes. Giovanni was keen to shoot on the MPP camera as he was thinking of purchasing one. F4.7 6 seconds.



Then onto some whole plates with the Watson studio camera. Giovanni seems at ease with this size much more than the smaller plates. Whether it was from practice and confidence each pour was great. Well done. Not too sure about his subject matter. I think I’ll get a model for the next client.



All was going well till this happened…


… I couldn’t believe it. I’d only seen this happen once before with a quarter plate in NY. This Trophy Aluminium cut with a not too sharp blade, leaving a slight raised lip along the edge of the plate. This must have been a rogue one in my box of plates as now I trim them all with a guillotine.

It didn’t seem to phase Giovanni, we removed the worse of it and varnished it, he was delighted with what he’d produced from the day. And rightly so.
So, a long day not without problems, ie silver bath needing 6-8 minutes to sensitize a plate and extremely cold. I don’t think he even took off his coat, till right at the end with the varnishing!

All pours, lighting, direction, exposures etc by Giovanni. Where he’s in the portrait all I did was take the lens cap off!