Wet Plate Gallery
Today, I make my photographs exactly as the Victorians used to between the 1850s and 1880s using a process known as Wet Plate Collodion.
View a potted history of the process here.
The photographs are made directly onto glass. The whole procedure — from sensitising the glass plate through to developing and fixing it — is carried out in the field using a mobile darkroom, my decommissioned NHS ambulance.
The finished plates carry entrancing three-dimensional qualities — almost holographic — leaving me with a sense that I’ve recroded a slice of time, that some kind of time capsule has been created.
Really, I'm not just making photographs, I'm making beautiful photographic objects, one-off sculptures. The JPEGs below can only give you an idea of how the plates appear in the flesh.
In short, unlike many contemporary photographic processes, the plates are unique, unreproducible and irreplaceable.
On this very special journey, here are my first efforts made in 2014 whilst learning the craft on 4.5 x 6.75 inch plates.
This was all part of the build up to my huge undertaking, The Lifeboat Station Project.
When you reach the bottom of this gallery, you'll see one of the photographs made at Minehead on 1st July 2015 — on 12x10 inch glass...
Julian Calverley working at Elgol, Isle of Skye (Half Plate Ambrotype)
Read the full story here: Skye Glass
Paul, the man who sold me my 1905 half plate camera (Half Plate Ambrotype)
Read more here: New Course Charted
A Corner of Our Yard (Half Plate Ambrotype)
Kath by the Front Door (Half Plate Ambrotype)
Sometimes the mistakes can be beautiful too...
Kath in the Garden (Half Plate Ambrotype)
Read more here: New Course Charted
Foot of the Castle Keep, Newcastle upon Tyne (Half Plate Ambrotype)
The first successful plate I made under my own steam. Read more here: New Course Charted
Five Helmsmen, Minehead RNLI Lifeboat Station, 1st July 2015, 12x10 inch Ambrotype.
Photography by Jack Lowe
Wet Plate Gallery