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Wet Collodion Course

in San Sebastian


(Given the success of the course we give you the opportunity to enjoy it again)



-Depending on the completion of the group, Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m./7:00 p.m.

-Maximum 7 people

-100 € (each participant will keep their photos)





   1-Presentation of wet collodion: the technique, the historical context and its applications.

   2-A demonstration of making an ambrotype in which each step of the process will be explained.

   3-Presentation of chemicals, supports (glass and anodized aluminum) used and safety standards.

   4-Description of the material: accessories and chambers used in the process.

   5-Elaboration of ambrotypes and tintypes by the participants: clean the plate, emulsify, sensitize it in the silver nitrate bath, expose the plate in a chamber plate, develop, fix, wash and varnish.

   6-Observe and analyze the images obtained and identify the faults and their solutions.





   -Acquire the necessary knowledge for the  making of wet collodion

   -Reflect on the concept of unique work

   -Experience plate camera portraiture





What is wet collodion?


   The wet collodion photographic technique was described by Gustave Le Gray and finally synthesized in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer (our patron saint). It was perhaps the first great democratizing revolution in the world of photography, making it accessible to the general public as opposed to other techniques such as the daguerreotype, which were more expensive and dangerous.


   Even so, it is a technique that, unlike our mobiles and digital devices, has as much to do with craftsmanship and alchemy as with photography itself. The photographer is in charge of the entire process, from conditioning the medium to mixing the chemicals involved in the development of the plate, controlling at all times that the environmental conditions exist so that this ephemeral conjunction of chemical elements does its job.

   The process begins by pouring the collodion, which will act as photographic film, onto the aluminum or glass plate. Subsequently, we immerse the plate, already emulsified, in a bath of silver nitrate for a few minutes, which will react with the various salts suspended in the collodion and make the plate photosensitive. Once we have obtained the sensitive material, we introduce the plate in a chassis, already in dark conditions, which will be the one that we will load in the camera.

   We now concentrate on taking the picture, for which we will need an exposure of several seconds in which the person must remain completely still. We then extract the chassis from the camera to take it to the laboratory, where it will go through the three phases of classic development and will give us the final result, which must still be carefully washed, dried and varnished before acquiring its long-lasting properties.


   Both the aesthetic qualities of collodion photography, incredibly detailed, as well as the particular craftsmanship process and the imperfections that it entails, make these collodion portraits unique objects , virtually irreplicable and with an intrinsic value that goes beyond the materials and the time spent in obtaining them.

   Taking a collodion portrait is much more than an aluminum plate to take home or a reproduction to hang on the wall: it is the experience of seeing the process photography as it was conceived in its beginnings happen before your eyes and go from its essential materials (light, silver and time) to a product that is more than the sum of its parts. And it is also an opportunity for pause and reflection that in this time of vertiginous consumption does not usually occur. An opportunity worth living and giving.




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