Creating glass plate negatives
Captured on glass Part 3
While dry plates are no longer available for sale, they can be handmade, exposed and processed similarly to photographers of the past.
Recently I had the opportunity to hand-make silver gelatin dry plate negatives with Ellie Young, an Australian expert in alternative photographic processes. Ellie shares her expertise at Gold Street Studios in Trentham, Victoria, where she operates darkrooms, workshops and an exhibition space dedicated to specialist photographic processes. I spent a day learning how to create, expose and process dry plate negatives.
We started with a piece of glass, which we prepared, coated, exposed and processed resulting in negatives ready for printing. The experience demonstrated both the camera craft required to obtain a well-focused, correctly exposed negative as well as the practical and technical knowledge needed for darkroom processing and mixing chemicals.
This image gallery illustrates the main steps in turning a piece of glass into an exposed and processed dry plate negative.
Processing trays set up in the darkroom under red safe light conditions. The steps for processing the plate are developer, stop bath, fixer, clearing agent and final wash.