How to make dry collodion negatives on glass plates

January 11, 2016  •  1 Comment

This is the first version of recipes, that can be used for preparation on developing of dry collodion plates.

The impulse for going in this way was the Bratislava project. In the centre of this project is the confrontation of the modern world with an archaic photographic process. It is nearly impossible to work with wet plates in the city. With dry plates, I can work without location restrictions. 

The basic source of information was this link on Albumen Conservation page. And here is a modern description on Derived Logic web page


Jam Traffic before Christmas. Low sensitivity of dry collodion plates results in long exposure times.
A dark day, EV11 and exposure 28 minutes with F5.6. 


If you are working with wet plate negatives, it is not difficult to prepare and develop dry plates. You have to buy just one new chemical, tannin acid.  It is used in preservation solution you apply on the plates before drying.

Tannic preservation solution
Tannic Acid 3.3 g
Grain alcohol 1 ml
Still water 100 ml

You can use your usual collodion and silver bath. Just be careful with old collodion. Pyro developer shrinks the collodion layer during developing. Old collodion is more fragile and there is a bigger risk of peeling of the collodion from the glass. (Edges of the clean glass plates should be always painted with albumen.)

After sensitising, you have to wash the plate in the sill water bath. After few minutes let water flow from the plate. You have to apply the tannic solution on a still wet plate. I'm floating plate in the same way as with developer, four times, changing pouring side every time.

Now you can let the plate dry in a dark room. Dried plates have very light milk colour. Thy can be stored before exposure for weeks.


Slovak National Gallery. With a shallow depth of field you are always
fighting for sharpness. Cloudy day with very rare Sun glimpses.
Printed on a contras
t paper. 

The exposure time is 3 minutes for EV 14 and F5.6. When inspecting exposing plates in the safe light, you should see a very soft image, when just parts of the image with stronger lights (sky) are just a slightly darkened.

As with all analogue photography, there is not a big risk if you overexposure, but you can lose a lot when you underexpose the plates. 

I develop plates in the evening of the day when they were exposed

Before developing let plate soak in a still water bath for a few minutes.


Stock solution #1
Pyrogallic acid 4.7 g
Alcohol 30 ml

Stock solution #2
Silver Nitrate 1.3 g
Citric Acid 1.3 g
Wate 30 ml

For developing you should prepare Diluted Pyro
Stock solution #1      3.7 ml
Water                      177 ml

Working developer should be mixed just before developing
Diluted Pyro             15 ml
Stock solution #2  20 drops

I'm using one or two caps of this developer for 18x24 cm plate. Developing time is 5 - 10 minutes.

After washing fix the plate in Hypo.

If you have any question, comment or suggestion, please, write them on this page, not on social networks, so they would be accessible for other readers. Thank you. 


P.S. If you like my works, you would like my newsletter


This is great, I was looking forward to get an idea of how work with dry plate, for al do very often landscapes and architecture it is very difficult to carry all the development stuff with me..thank you very much...
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