The Ambrotype: A Practical Guide

by Radosław Brzozowski

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The Ambrotype: A Practical Guide by Radosław Brzozowski
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A step-by-step practical guide to ambrotypes.

8 of 10   Rated 8,0 – based on 6 votes

The book

The Ambrotype – A Practical Guide is one of the few comprehensive guides to the magical process of wetplate ambrotype. Over some 120 plus pages it takes the reader through all the issues connecting with shooting ambrotypes, from issues such as the equipment and studio, through the chemistry and procedure described step by step.

Individual chapters deal with issues such as selecting the photographic equipment for ambrotype work, furnishing and equipping the wetplate studio as well as the choice of necessary chemicals. The process of making wetplate photographs is discussed in detail, taking the reader step by step through issues such as salting the collodion, coating a plate, sensitizing it as well as the exposure, development and fixing of the image itself. Each stage is accompanied by all the necessary recipes along with detailed description how each recipe should be prepared. Each stage of the process is further made easy by dozens of drawings and photographs. For most stages a range of recipes and solutions are given so as to enable the reader to choose the ones they find most suitable. The same is true of the collodion recipes themselves.

There are also numerous recipes for wetplate varnishes as well as detailed directions pertaining to the varnishing and presenting ambrotypes along with ways to blacken the glass plates and alternative ways to protect the delicate image from oxidation. Separate chapters have been devoted to working away from the studio and, for the first time, to hand colouring ambtrotypes. Typical problems occuring while making wetplates have also been discussed.

Needless to say there is also a brief historical introduction and detailed information about all necessary materials.

Table of content

  • Rather than an introduction 6
  • Ambrotype in the past and today 12
  • I Equipment and darkroom 16
    1 Field and studio cameras 20
    2 Lenses 23
    3 Collodion darkroom 25
    4 Wetplate studio 30
  • II Preparing materials for coating 36
    1 Preparing plates for coating 37
    2 Cleaning a glass plate 39
    3 Subbing the plate with albumen glue 41
    4 Preparing salted collodion 42
    5 To use cadmium or not to use cadmium 42
    6 Old collodion vs fresh collodion 47
  • III Preparing the plate for taking a photograph 54
    1 Pouring collodion 55
    2 Large plate sizes 58
    3 Sensitizing solution 59
    4 Sensitizing a plate 65
  • IV Taking the picture 70
    1 The speed of collodion and the time of day and year 71
    2 Making an ambrotype portrait 73
  • V Developing an ambrotype 76
    1 Ambrotype developers 77
    2 Correct development of an ambrotype 79
  • VI Fixing the amrotype 84
    1 Ambrotype fixers 85
  • VII Varnishing an ambrotype 90
    1 Ambrotype varnishes 91
    2 Using the sandarac varnish 93
    3 Alternatives to traditional varnish 94
  • VIII Wetplate on the go 98
    1 Mobile darkroom 99
    2 Necessary materials 102
  • IX The hand-coloured ambrotype 106
  • X Presentation 110
    1 Blacking the subtrate 111
    2 Scanning the ambrotype 114
  • XI If things don’t work out
    (or the typical problems and their causes) 116

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