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Wet-Plate Photography

Step 1: Coat with Collodion

The first step in making a collodion negative begins with a solution called, not surprisingly, collodion.

Photographic collodion is a mixture of raw cotton (which has been treated with nitric and sulfuric acids) dissolved in ether and alcohol, with a little iodide and bromide mixed in. What exactly it's made out of doesn't really matter that much, though -- in 1880 you can buy it pre-mixed. What matters is that this solution is transparent and sticks to nearly everything.

Pour the collodion onto a glass plate, then the tilt the plate until its entire surface is coated with the solution.

Then pour the excess collodion back into its bottle.

Step 1: Coat with Collodion
next step >> Step 2: Dip in Silver Nitrate
Step 3: Plate to Camera
Step 4: Expose
Step 5: Pour on Developer
Step 6: Fix the Plate
Step 7: Wash and Varnish
Step 8: Make a Print

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