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Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:07 am
by Don Day
The market makes us see things we would not see (or perhaps choose) for ourselves. In my case, buyers are not emptying my stall at occasional art shows. But many lookers ask if I can do "old timey portraits," imagining a quick sepia polaroid shot of themselves in quickly-chosen period costumes. My interpretation is that I can offer period-correct photo sessions for tintype pictures made at the visit and picked up later in the day (or by mail) using dry plate tintypes for now.

To try out the process, I purchased the subject Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit, which for about $36 will produce up to 8 4x5 tintypes. Yeah, the cost of goods starts at about $5 a plate for the joy of getting sticky and expecting uncertain results. But we do this for fun before profit, right?

My first plate surprised me by actually bearing an image, despite my having dropped it face-down on the floor while failing at "the waiter" holding technique for coating it. The dry gelatin process is messy and follows entropy better than any other process I know of. But I'll have fun with the 8 plates (with maybe enough to coat a glass lantern slide for my old Kodaks). I'll add other results as I get to them... this may take time.

Here's number 1, made with a homemade sliding box camera fronted by a 9" f/4 Petzval portrait lens. I don't understand the green or blue, but suspect fixing time might be a factor. But it is a happily interesting effect.
dry_plate_1.jpg

Re: Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:00 am
by alexvaras
Impressive! I hope to see more from this serie :)

Re: Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:08 am
by Brazile
A good first shot. Intrigued by the colors; I've never seen that happen. Pouring plates is a bit messy the first few times. In working with homemade emulsions, I have found the following to help me:

1) Pour them over a tray of water -- easy to clean up and I find that I fret less about the occasional slop-over.

2) While pouring, concentrate on keeping a circular pool in the middle of the plate. When it gets to covering about 2/3 the plate, stop pouring and guide the emulsion toward each corner, somewhat slowly and deliberately. Don't jerk back if you spill a bit...it's overcorrecting that generally leads to spills in my experience.

3) Don't try too hard to pour a lot of excess off. I was overdoing this in the early going and this led to more pouring mishaps and weird density issues on the plates. And the resulting plates were much more susceptible to halation, interestingly enough. Once I took to pouring only a tiny bit off before leveling the plate, many of these issues went away.

At least with my emulsions, I can reuse plates that go badly by soaking them in a solution of bleach and water, which dissolves the emulsion. Wash the plate carefully before use.

Good luck with the project!

Robert

Re: Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:43 pm
by PFMcFarland
A very interesting first result. That looks like the perfect project for my pinhole 4x5 camera, Don.

PF

Re: Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:21 pm
by Don Day
My next try was properly exposed, but it is clear that I brushed the emulsion too thin--this from the first batch of plates I coated. I will re-coat the remainder of this batch following Robert's advice above. I was aware that too thick is bad, but too thin is also too easy to achieve (using a foam brush). [twiddles thumbs, whistles, looking away wistfully] I appreciate the tips.

BTW, here is the homemade camera I have ended up with after several test bodies. The lens is a 9" f/4 Petzval that could cover whole plate if I accept the considerable bokeh (who wouldn't?).
20180612_214945-sm.jpg

Re: Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:08 am
by Don Day
These are the ortho film equivalents that I'll be comparing the tintypes with (the sensitivities being very similar).

Ortho test shot 1:
img-157-f-8x10.jpg


Ortho test shot 2:
img-156-f-8x10.jpg

Re: Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:14 am
by alexvaras
Fabulous!

Re: Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:48 am
by Brazile
Sounds great, Don. I like the camera. I've been playing around with making my own as well, but I haven't got past the sliding box stage; haven't found bellows material I'm happy with yet.

One other point about the emulsion: I assume you're heating it a bit to pour it. Try to heat only the amount you're using, rather than the whole bottle. I'm told that reheating the entire bottle will a) cause a rise in sensitivity over time (yay!), and b) cause it to break down sooner (boo!).

Good luck!

Robert

Re: Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:57 pm
by PFMcFarland
My idea is to ditch the bellows, and really make it a sliding box. Looking good so far, Don.

PF

Re: Adventures with the Rockland Colloid Tintype Parlor Kit

Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:21 am
by P C Headland
That's a pretty cool effect in the first shot. I'm fascinated to see how this experimentation develops.... ;)