Introduction to Wet Plate Photography

Learn to create tintypes in this hands-on, two-day workshop.
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In the beginning, before digital and before film, there was wet plate. It was a challenging process that merged optics and chemistry into the new art form of photography. The wet plate process is being re-discovered by visual artists at all levels of accomplishment as a way to reconnect with photography at the elemental level, while creating one of a kind images that enchant both subject and photographer. There is a level of depth, detail and clarity in a well executed wet plate image that is unsurpassed by modern photographic techniques.

Photo credit: Montana Hobbs

This intensive course will dive into wet plate collodion, which was the leading process of photography in the 1850s and ’60s. It was used to document the Civil War and to create the portraits of Abraham Lincoln. The process is most commonly known in its three forms—tintypes (positives on tin), ambrotypes (positives on glass), and glass negatives (negatives on glass).

The basics of the collodion process will be covered and topics will include:

  • Hand coating collodion plates: preparing the plate, cleaning glass, pouring collodion
  • Creating wet collodion images: exposing, developing, fixing and varnishing
  • Safely mixing the chemistry
  • Building a darkroom and modifying cameras for the process
  • Printing pre-existing imagery using an enlarger onto wet collodion plates
  • Experimentation will be strongly encouraged.

Each student will leave with 3-6 wet plate collodion images at the end of this unique workshop.

Photo credit: Melissa Stillwell

Workshop participants do not need previous photography or darkroom experience. We’ll be using DCP’s Graflex Crown Graphic 4×5 cameras. All equipment and supplies including cameras, lighting, metal plates, holders and chemistry will be supplied. We’ll also have aprons, goggles, gloves and other safety equipment on hand.

Photo credit: Lisa Elmaleh

  • This two-day workshop is held at DCP on Saturday, November 13 and Sunday, November 14.
  • Cost per person is $525 early registration (ends October 23 at 11:59pm), $595 late registration.
  • Workshop price includes a $50 lab and materials fee which covers everything you need: camera use, 4×5 plates, chemistry and safety equipment.
  • Please note meals are not included in the cost of registration.
  • Doors open each day at 8:45am.
  • Workshop starts promptly at 9am and ends at 5pm.
  • Advance registration and payment is required.
  • Maximum number of students is 10, minimum number to make a class is 6.

Photo credit: Melissa Stillwell

This workshop has special terms and conditions that supplement and/or replace the general terms found elsewhere on the DCP website.

The early registration discount is in effect up to 21 days before the workshop date and ends October 23 at 11:59pm. We must have a minimum of 6 participants by the early registration deadline for the workshop to make.

If you cancel more than 31 days before the workshop begins we’ll refund any payments made less a $100 processing fee. If you cancel from 22 to 31 days before the start date of the workshop, we will refund all money received to date minus a $200 cancellation penalty. If you cancel less than 21 days before the start date of the workshop, you will forfeit 100% of the total workshop fee. If you can’t attend, you are welcome to send someone in your place. In some cases, we may be able to find a replacement for your empty seat if the workshop is already sold out, in which case you will receive a partial refund minus the $200 cancellation fee.

Dallas Center for Photography reserves the right to cancel a workshop at any time for low enrollment or for other reasons and will promptly refund all payments made to date. In the event of a workshop cancellation, DCP is not responsible for reimbursement of non-refundable airline tickets, hotel reservations and other travel arrangements. If you’re coming from out of town we recommend that you purchase travel insurance.

Lisa Elmaleh

Lisa Elmaleh’s work is a photographic exploration of rural America. Elmaleh is an analog photographer living in Paw Paw, West Virginia.  She is a traveling educator, often teaching wet plate collodion workshops out of the back of her truck for various workshops across America. Elmaleh’s Everglades work was published as a monograph (Everglades) in 2016.

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