- A piece of glass is thoroughly cleaned and polished. For ferrotypes, japanned iron is needed.
- Holding the plate by the fingertips in a horizontal position, the collodion is flowed over the surface to form a smooth, even coating.
- In the darkroom, the coated plate is quickly put into a bath of silver nitrate solution and allowed to soak for several minutes. It is withdrawn from the bath (now light sensitive) and while still wet put into a light-proof plate holder.
- The plate holder is taken to the already-focused camera. The dark slide is removed and the exposure, generally about five seconds long, is made by removing the lens cap. The dark slide is replaced and the holder (containing the plate) is returned to the darkroom for processing.
- In the darkroom, the plate is removed from it’s holder and developed by pouring an acidic iron sulfate solution over its surface. When the plate is judged to be fully developed, it is rinsed in clean water.
- The plate is put into a solution of hyposulphite of soda or potassium cyanide to dissolve the remaining unaltered silver salts. It is then washed thoroughly in clean water.
- Over a gentle flame the fixed plate is dried and usually hand colored, then varnished to protect the surface.
For further demonstration see these sites:
View this NPG animated site on the making the wet plate collodion image
A step-by-step guide from PBS showing in outline how the process was performed in the 1880s.
Video showing the process completely through the making of a print on albumen paper.
You may visit the Getty Museum main page by clicking here.
Buy the newest edition of the manual,
Making the Wet Collodion Plate in 16 Steps – by Will Dunniway
Readers are guided through the process step-by-step from the mixing, pouring, exposing and development of plates poured with wet collodion. Everything you will need to know to make Tintypes, Ambrotypes and Glass Negatives. including a comprehensive list of suppliers. Cost $35. Includes shipping. Email Will Dunniway