Saturday, February 28, 2015

First Stab at Tintype Photography

Took the plunge and bought a Rockland Tintype Parlor Kit for my 4x5 large format camera. There is something magical about old time photography and I have been looking at the wet plate process for awhile but decided to try this dry plate method first since it seemed a bit easier to try out and did not involve owning a bunch of darkroom equipment to start with. I have minimal film processing equipment for daylight development but with this tintype kit I was going to need a minimum of a safelight and some kind of darkroom. I did the usual and put a towel around the bathroom door and setup everything  there, it worked fine for the most part.

The process is pretty straight forward

1. Trim the included 4x5 metal plates to fit your camera. In my case it was the 4x5 film holders. I trimmed about 10mm off of one edge and clipped a corner to simulate an actual piece of cut sheet film. This helped me remember to use a single side for the emulsion coating.

2. Warm the emulsion gel in hot water until it become fluid enough to pour and spread onto the metal plates.

*** Start steps that need to be in darkroom with safelight ***

3. Pour and spread the emulsion onto your metal plates.

4. Dry the plates in a completely dark place for about 24 hours. I used a military ammo can since it was the only light tight box I could find.

5. Put the plates in the film holder

*** End steps that need to be in darkroom with safelight ***

When the emulsion was dry and the film holders where ready to go it was just a matter of finding a suitable subject and exposing as normal except for using a blue filter in front of the light meter. Seems the emulsion is only sensitive to blue light. Once exposed you go back into the darkroom with a safelight and process according to the directions. This step is pretty simple, even I was able to do it without too much trouble.

My first try resulted in images that I think are over exposed. I rated the emulsion at ISO 1.6 and probably should have been ISO 3. I have some more plates drying that I will test out this weekend.

Here are two scans of my best photos from the first batch.

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Any comments or suggestions about this process would be much appreciated!

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