The Collodion Wet-Plate Journey ed. 1

I thought I would share what I have been up to lately, other than shooting weddings for some incredible couples. This summer I had the opportunity to purchase a ultra large format 11×14 camera from 1889-1901. This particular camera has sentimental value to me. It was being used in the old west portrait studio located in Ouray Colorado that my family has been going there for over 25 years taking family photos to put up in our cabin. The film that the owner was using is no longer being produced and they have since gone all digital. It’s a Scovill & Adams from NY. It was produced sometime between 1889-1901. After 1901 the company merged with E.&H.T. Anthony & Co. to form a new company – Anthony & Scovill. It’s rather rare. The camera is on a semi-centennial stand and came with a 343mm f/3.5 Kodak Aero-Ektar lens that honestly weights about 15 lbs.

I knew of a process called collodion wet plate and thought that I might be able to use this camera to make these unique photographs. Collodion wet plate is the 2nd photography process that came after daguerreotypes in 1850. Most people know it as tintypes; taking pictures on blackened metal. Ambrotypes, photos on black glass, are also used. It’s an amazing process that really feels like magic when you get it working. I love the aesthetic and the fact that you are doing a 163 year old process that is made by hand.


After some research I found Quinn Jacobson. He is known around the world and actually lives in Denver. He teaches workshops once or twice a year and I jumped at the chance to take one. It was so incredible and completely changed my view of photography, people’s relationship with photographs, and the profession of “photographer” in this modern era. Quinn showed me how to create the chemicals that you need for the process, how I can use my camera, and how to think “collodion.”


As I usually do, when I get into something I REALLY GET INTO IT. In the next following weeks I will share my journey of awesome lenses and camera’s I have found, their history, and of course; my first plates produced in my studio.


Be sure to visit Aventura Photo/Video to view more work and send us an Email.
I would love to hear from you.

Aventura, August 22, 2013
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