Dry Plate Collodion Process


Quarter Plate glass negative. Taken at Encanto Park. Sunny Conditions, 6 minute exposure @f11 (overexposed).


Quarter Plate glass negative. Mostly cloudy conditions, 20 minute exposure @f8.


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The Dry Plate Collodion process is a slightly modified version of the wet plate collodion process. The plate is poured with collodion and sensitised in a 9% silver bath just like you would with wet plate. Then, here's where things change. The plate is washed in water to get rid of the excess silver nitrate and is placed in a bath of 3.3% preservative solution of Tannic Acid for a few minutes. The plate is not washed after soaking in Tannic Acid and is allowed to fully dry. Once dry, the plate is said to have a very long shelf life (over a year). One of the downsides is that the exposure is about 4-6x as long as a wet plate! After exposure, the plate is soaked in water for a few minutes and then is developed by inspection with a solution of Pyrogallic Acid and Silver Nitrate. Then is fixed, dried and varnished like a wet plate.


Tannic Acid Preservative Solution:

Tannic Acid - 3.3g

95% Grain Alcohol - 1mL

Distilled Water - 100mL

Filter before using. The shelf life should be indefinite.





Stock Solution #1 Pyogallic Acid:

Pyrogallic Acid - 4.7g

95% Grain Alcohol - 30mL

Place solution in dropper bottle for convenience for when making working developer solution. The shelf life should be indefinite.


Stock Solution #2 Silver Nitrate:

Silver Nitrate - 1.3g

Citric Acid - 1.3g

Distilled Water - 30mL

Place solution in dropper bottle for convenience for when making working developer solution. The shelf life should be indefinite.



Working Developer Solution:


The official formula is:

Solution #1 - 3.7mL

Water - 177mL

Then take 15mL of that diluted Pyro solution and add 20 drops of solution #2 to it. Only add #2 just before developing. This is your working solution. Before developing, soak plate in water for a minute or two. Pour onto plate and develop to inspection. If the sky quickly becomes dark but the other details are slow to develop, the exposure was too short, add 10-15 drops of solution #1 to the plate. If all parts of the plate develop simultaneously, the exposure was too long, add a few drops of #2 so that the sky will not be too dense.


This is the working developer solution I use:

Solution #1 - 10 drops

Solution #2 - 22 drops or ~1mL

Water - 20mL

Only mix just before use. Develop the same as described above. This formula should be about the same as above but I found it redundant to make 177mL of diluted solution #1 when I only use 15mL of it for a quarter plate.



Another Formula/Process:

(Courtesy of Nanadadzie)

Instead of using Tannic Acid as the preservitive, coffee could be used.

"Ground coffee. For an 8x10 plate, 50 gm coffee, 25 gm white sugar, 500 cc boiling water.
I I got the recipe from Edward Kleindorf and altered it to suit me. Works!
(I later found it in Carey Lea's manual from the 1800's on dry plate).
I leave it till it is cool and then filter it. I soak the plate in the coffee for 4 min."

"I develop with your (developer) formula but i use about 50% more pyro and 75% less silver nitrate."

"About 10 min (developing time).
I develop with the pyro and silver nitrate. The stock solutions are just like you make them.
For an 8x10 plate, I add 30- 40 drops of the undiluted pyro to 30 cc of distilled water..
I to that, I add the silver nitrate just before I flow the plate.
I have been using 10 drops of silver nitrate."

These formulas have been untested by me but his plates appear to have good contrast. His exposure times were 3-5min @ f16 in sunny conditions.

Thanks for your input!




The formulas that I used here were from the Silver Sunbeam .

Another reference for Dry Plate

Bostick and Sullivan - Source for wet and dry plate supplies in the US.





Contact: Tai Oliphant

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