Wet plate

I once sat in an airplane on my way to the US watching a documentary on guitarists. One of the guitarist featured was Jack White of The White Stripes fame. In one scene he's building a primitive guitar out of a wooden board, some strings and a coke bottle. The finer detailes are lost to me (it's been a few years), but there was a quote from Jack White that stuck with me, probably because it relates to the way I look at photography; 

 "Convenience is the enemy of creativity"

And so I've spent the last years making photography harder and harder on myself. It's been a gradual thing that's been quite natural. A progression, you might say. From medium format, over 4x5 large format and now 8x10 wet plate collodion photography.  

First described by Frederic Scott Archer in 1851 it's a photographic process where a piece of glass or aluminium is coated with collodion by hand, dipped in silver nitrate and exposed within a matter of minutes. The plate is then developed and - after the plate has dried - a coating of varnish is applied. The first part of the process has to be done quickly, because the plate cannot dry out. Hence the name 'wet plate'.

My fascination with this process is very simple. I truely enjoy have photography back in my hands. That's litteraly speaking. You're leaving your finger print on every image and your way of working with the plates leaves a certain signature on it. And the pictures tend to leave an impact on you, too. The stains from the silver nitrate take a week or two to wear off.


Jørgen, 4x5 wet plate alumitype

Jørgen, 4x5 wet plate alumitype

Here's a video I've made about the process.