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New dry plates

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PFMcFarland
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Re: New dry plates

Postby PFMcFarland » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:19 pm

Revisiting this as I have a few questions, Robert. I've been thinking about trying glass plate photography ever since I heard about this outfit https://www.pictoriographica.com/

My main query is do you need special holders for the dry plates, or will they fit in a standard film holder?

PF
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Brazile
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Re: New dry plates

Postby Brazile » Tue May 01, 2018 6:35 am

PF, you should definitely give it a try -- it's not at all difficult. I had a very nice chat with Jason at the recent Photographica show here and picked up a set of his whole plate-sized plates while I was here. Haven't shot them yet because I need to check the bellows on the Seneca WP camera I have, but hope to do so soon.

You do need to get plate-specific holders, though. I've been gathering them up for a while, either buying them at the show or on eBay (mostly on eBay) but you only need one to get started. They are almost just like wooden film holders, just slightly fatter. Rather than a flap at the bottom, they have a fixed bottom with a spring-loaded bar: you push the plate in against the bar which allows the other end to slip under the lip at the top. Have a look on eBay; there are generally a few around at any given time.

For development, I just use trays, although the Stearman Press guys just added 3D-printed plate holders for their small 4x5 developing tank if you've got one of those. But trays are easy enough. Some folks use Dektol to develop; I did at first, but these days have standardized on D76 1:1, which is what I use for film as well. I develop for about 10 minutes with the usual slight agitation for the first minute, and 10 secs of every minute thereafter. Then the usual stop-fix-wash routine, nothing special. Just be careful handling the plates, as the emulsion is fairly soft and can be scratched with a stray fingertip. Been a long time since I scratched one, though, so it's not that risky.

Two warnings on the holders: 1) they're wooden and old and not always well-treated. I have a bunch that need to be repaired, and its somewhat small, finicky work, which I've been putting off; try to find one in good repair, and 2) there are a few out there whose lock rib doesn't mate with "modern" cameras. Sometimes you can rig something, but it's generally easier to keep going until you find one that works, most of them do. I've had good luck with the Rochester Optical "Premo" holders. They're a bit small (can be hard to grab the handle for the dark slide; put a loop of tape on it to help) but work fine. If you get stuck finding a holder, let me know; I can lend you one.

Good luck!

Robert

P.S. FWIW, the plate holders often come with an insert that turns them into film holders. I generally just use film holders for that, but it's a possibility if you really don't want to carry much.
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PFMcFarland
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Re: New dry plates

Postby PFMcFarland » Tue May 01, 2018 11:16 pm

As I looked up from my desk just now, I realized I have a dry plate holder. But it's for making contact prints. There may be at least one of those plate holders in my piles of 4x5 stuff, but it's all boxed up at the moment, waiting for me to go through it all. I have to spend the rest of the week sorting and separating so I'll have more stuff to take to the auction house, so I might come across them. Then I have to make room to bring my stuff in off the balcony because they are going to rebuild it.

I ordered a wooden 4x5 pinhole camera the other day. It has an exposure calculator built in so no messing around trying to come up with times. The way it's designed though it will only take the film holders made for it. Of course, it was ordered too late to have it for WWPD (World Wide Pinhole Day).

PF
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LarryD
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Re: New dry plates

Postby LarryD » Wed May 02, 2018 3:04 am

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If we all saw the world the same no one would need a camera.

Brazile
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Re: New dry plates

Postby Brazile » Wed May 02, 2018 6:03 am

No, that's Jason Lane. Good guy. He started around the same time I did, but decided that he could sell part of his output to fund the work.

Robert
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Brazile
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Re: New dry plates

Postby Brazile » Wed May 02, 2018 6:06 am

PF, whichever holder you use, remember to check the T-distance on it and compare it to your camera. Sometimes they're a bit different, as will probably recall me mentioning on Flickr.

I did manage to shoot a pinhole shot on WPPD, but it was raining cats and dogs so I did it using the pinhole that came with my first Intrepid. Inside. On a plate. An hour and a half wasn't enough... :-)

Robert
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PFMcFarland
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Re: New dry plates

Postby PFMcFarland » Wed May 02, 2018 9:59 pm

My problem with the pinholes I have is I don't know what size they are. That, and my roll film holder for the 4x5 is a leaky son of a gun. I hope that after this summer I'll be able to get more serious about photography.

PF
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Brazile
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Re: New dry plates

Postby Brazile » Thu May 03, 2018 6:01 am

Perhaps take a shot of the pinhole(s) you have with a metric ruler using a macro lens? Or a scanner if you have one. Always sounded like the easiest way to measure to me.

I hear you about the leaky holder. I have yet to go through and test all of mine.

Robert
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