The wet collodion process was announced by Frederic Scott Archer in 1851. The term wetplate includes Ambrotypes, which are collodion on glass, images and the more commonly known tintypes. The tintype is a bit misnamed since it doesn’t involve tin at all. Originally called a Ferrotype because of the thin iron based plates the image was produced on, tintypes became a faster, cheaper way to produce portraits for the masses, as opposed to the Daguerreotype which was popular with the well-to-do of the time. Being that the image was quite durable and lightweight, it was also widely used during the civil war to take portraits of soldiers. Tintypes started losing their popularity later in the century when dry plates became more commercially available.

Wetplate images are unique in that they can not be reproduced. The image on the glass or metal plate is actually the negative which appears as a positive when placed in front of a black background. Tintypes are horizontally reversed while Ambrotypes can be either reversed or right reading depending on how they were finished and cased.

Kathy has been doing wetplate since 2008 when she took a workshop in upstate New York at Camp Tintype with John Coffer.



Gelatin dryplates were introduced in 1871 by Dr. Richard Leach Maddox when he shared his research on using bromides in gelatin coated on glass. Much easier to make and transport, dryplates soon replaced wetplate  as the medium of choice in studios and on location.  Early photographers were also chemists and experimented with different formulas to try and increase light and spectral sensitivity. In 1880, George Eastman began manufacturing gelatin dryplates, and photographers eventually stopped making their own emulsions, preferring the consistency of manufactured plates.

The gelatin dryplate images in this gallery are from hand poured plates with home made emulsions. The characteristics and flaws in these images are part of the process. Each batch of emulsion is different and produces images with unique qualities.