A couple of weeks ago, Art Intersection hosted a Wet Plate Collodion Tintype Workshop and Open Studio! Students were led by David Emitt Adams and assisted by Claire A. Warden, both experts in this captivating 19th century process. Wet plate collodion was among the first widely-used photographic processes, used predominantly during the Civil War era. The nature of the process requires that collodion be hand-poured on a blackened metal plate, sensitized with silver nitrate, and exposed, then back into developing and fixing baths before the coating dries – hence the process’s name. During the workshop, students got individualized help with their coating, exposure, and processing. The following day, artists attended the open studio for a chance to try the process on their own; David and Claire were on hand to help as needed.
For a proper exposure, wet plate collodion requires either very bright light or a long exposure. David has rigged a special chair designed to help portrait sitters keep very still during the exposure time of 6-8 seconds, much like the chairs and props 19th century photographers used.
The following weekend, David and Claire returned to take wet plate collodion studio portraits! Couples, families, and individuals made appointments to have their picture taken, 19th-century-style.