Riley JB - Photographer & Alchemist

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Hand-made portraits using light, time & silver. Take a seat and have your portrait created with the Victorian-era wet plate collodion technique. A black metal plate is coated with collodion salted with iodides and bromides, sensitized in a bath of silver nitrate to become a custom piece of film. The plate is loaded into a large format camera, circa 1925, and an exposure is made using powerful strobe and continuous lights. Before it can dry, the plate is developed in the darkroom before your eyes. Then the magic moment of the image going from a negative to the final positive in the fixer bath.

The plate is then varnished using gum sandarac (sap from a cypress tree), lavender oil and alcohol. Once varnished, the plate will last for 150 years and likely more. A true heirloom photograph.

If you’re interested in having a tintype session outside of the studio, or host me at a pop-up, please contact me details.


Tintype Session Details

Tintype sessions can take from 45 minutes to an hour. During the session you will be able to witness the entire process from pouring the collodion onto the plate all the way to it being varnished over the flame of an alcohol lamp.

Included in each session is either one 4”x5” or one 5”x7” tintype, a JPG scan of the plate and a small wooden stand for your newly created heirloom.

During a session we can shoot additional tintype plates for $35/ea (4x5) and $50/ea (5x7).

Important Notes:

  • Images are for personal use only. If you wanted to use your tintype portrait for commercial use please contact me before scheduling to discuss licensing.

  • Wet plate collodion is a 168-year-old chemical process. Minor flaws, dust and chemical anomalies are inherent. If a plate results in a major flaw, I can reshoot the plate.

  • The depth of field is very narrow due to the wide apertures used. In order for everyone in the photograph to be in sharp focus they need to be on the same focal plane, which can be difficult.

  • The exposure time is about 4 seconds, ending with a very bright flash. The bulk of the photograph is made during that flash so you will not have to be a statue but being as s till as possible is most desirable.

  • As there is only one original tintype plate. You can order additional plates of the same setup/pose but there will be slight differences.

Wet Plate Process | Questions & Answers

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