Wet Plate Collodion
with Bill Schwab
August 31 – September 3, 2022
Photostock Workshop –
Cross Village, Michigan
Come up to the north woods of Michigan at one of the most beautiful times of year and learn the wet plate collodion process!
One of the oldest and seemingly difficult of the photographic processes, Wet Plate can be very simple and satisfying once you’ve collected all the necessary gear and learned to handle the chemistry.
In this workshop, you can forgo all of that and get right down to the business of making plates. All equipment and chemistry will be provided, so all you need do is show up with the will to learn an exciting photographic process.
Perhaps a reaction to the push button, digital world or maybe simply a desire to get back to basics, the collodion or wet plate process has been undergoing an increasing wave of interest over the past several mmmm years. And while it can be an extremely expressive and addictive process, it can be a bit complicated at first. Due to some of the chemistry involved, it also needs to be handled with a degree of care that is a touch above the average darkroom. Speaking from experience it helps a great deal to be able to watch and work with someone experienced with the process as the method and materials can be somewhat intimidating. This is why I offer this beginner’s course. It helps you familiarize yourself with the process, handling of chemistry and is designed to give a good base of experience to build upon.
This course will first cover chemistry, formulas and safe handling. We will first meet on the morning of Wednesday, August 31st where we will mix collodion*, silver nitrate solution as well as developer and fixing baths that we will need over the next 4 days of making plates. All chemistry and materials used during the course will be provided. We will then get down to the business of pouring your first plates in the afternoon with the goal of having you more confident in doing so by the end of your first day.
You will then begin Thursday morning by pouring your first solo plates and becoming familiar with sensitization, exposure and processing. By noon of this day, you will have made your first solo collodion photographs and should be completely hooked on the process. We will work throughout the day practicing your technique and creating plates.
Friday, weather providing, will again be spent creating plates. However this day we will go out on the road with the darkroom trailer to a couple of interesting places for some location work. By now you will be fairly proficient in making your plates and will be more capable of dialing in exposures and development times making your time in the field more satisfying and productive.
On Saturday, you final day, you will provided black glass and learn to prepare it for making your first “Ambrotype” or collodion on glass plate. This is a little more involved, but by now you will have the skill to make a beautiful glass plate before moving on to the finishing of the plates you have made throughout the week by varnishing them for their trip home. You’ll learn preparation of the varnish as well as explore alternative means of varnishing your plates.
Throughout the workshop you will be able to pour many plates which is the goal in your learning process. The best way to learn is through practice and repetition and you’ll be ready to go it alone once you return to your own darkroom.
Workshop includes use of all equipment, chemistry, supplies and final plates. Once registered, you will receive more information on location, times and suggestions for lodging in the area.
$1200.00 (includes all material and lab fees)
Class limited to 6 students with a minimum requirement of 2.