Wet plate process

    In 1851, a British sculptor called Archer used collodion to be adhesives, and invented "collodion photography", and called "Wet plate". The carrier of the sensitive plate was glass.

Between the year from 1851-1871, 20 years, collodion photography has taken the place of Silver edition way and Carlos way, and became the main photography of British, America and the whole Europe.

The advantage of wet plate was that it mostly increased the sensitivity, the disadvantage was that it was available only before the sensitive plate was dried, that was to say, the sensitive plate need on-site production.

When on-site, photographers need to make the sensitive plate in the makeshift tent, and took them out to shoot when it was in wet condition. Photographer need to make sensitive plate, photo, develop and fix in the on-site, and would be finished in 10-20 minutes. Aditionally, artistry and ornamentation were needed according to the photography.


At that time, the equipment of scenery photographer was very heavy. For he needed to make sensitive plate on-site in dark room and developed and fixed, the photographer need to take not only camera, but also darkroom tent, bottles full with various solution, and heavy glass plates.

In 1858, British, 16*20 inch, collodion wet plate.
Imagine that the photographer need to carry 16*20 inch glasses, and take many pieces for outdoor shooting, that is really a physical work.

If photographer wanted to make a big ceation, he needed a carriage to carry the equipment. In 1855,British Fenton needed to photography for the battle front soldiers, here was his photographic equipment.

To use wet plate, it needed to find the photographic object, then setuped tent on-site and made sensitive plate with solution, and put them into the camera before it was dry. After shooting, it needed to take the sensitive plate back to the tent to develop. So so.

Photos of Wet plate shooting: