How to make wet plate landscapes without a donkey.

September 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

With a large format camera and other wet plate equipment, you need to travel with a donkey. Or with a car. 

As a wet plate landscapist, you learn to live with limits. Some of them are more annoying than others. It is, in some way, inspiring, when you have to make photographs without a nice cloudy sky. But is difficult to accept, how much of the beauty of the world is simply out of your reach. 

And this is not only about limited access, it is about mood. When you are driving a car, the mode of your mind is different. Don't know how you, but when I'm driving, I can’t see, can’t feel, can’t discover country.

Now I can carry everything I need for wet plates on my back. The first impulse for solution was Helga panoramic, a very light camera working with 6x12 plates. The second important inspiration was Gerald Figal’s The BastardBox™. From this point it was clear. 



Dark box is build from a folding Ikea box 38x31x31 cm (70x31 cm folded). Two holes with sleeves for hand access. Holga Panoramic and a notebook for size comparison. Dog is here for purely aesthetic reason. 



Top of the box is from thin hard paper. The viewer is covered with a double layer of rubylith. I've had a lot of problems with light leaking. It helped when I made the viewer smaller. Still, the direct sunlight can destroy the plate easily.



Setup for sensitising of the plate. Silver nitrate is in a small plastic box. Just a small amount, so it has to be changed with a fresh silver after three or four plates. Safelight is a battery bike light. 



Developing setup, a bottle with water is missing. Developing in a small box is not easy. I'm using a bigger that a minimal amount of developer just to be sure that whole plate is covered. A lot of irregularities, which can destroy or amplify the plate. 



Fixing desk. Developed plates are fixed for a few minutes, rinsed and stabilised with glycerol. Back at home, they are washed and fixed again.



The box for transport of the finished plates. In reality it is a rectangle. A primitive, but very low weight solution. Transported in the top part of the backpack



Plates from the last walk in the final wash. You can find (some of) them in Holgalities gallery


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