Yesterday I had a pretty shitty day. And I went to bed and decided that today I was going to go out and make a plate. I figured the 12×20 camera doesn’t work yet but the 11×14 still does so I might as well get out and use it.
Woke up a bit late this morning but the weather was nice, no wind, and I headed out to Bushy Park to try and see if I could find some old Oast Houses (hops drying sheds). I got out there but unfortunately they were all fenced off. Not wanting to drive my van onto private property I just headed back out to the Southern Midlands. I drove down Hollow Tree Road (an old favourite) and saw this nice weeping willow sitting in the middle of a paddock.
Went up to Tunbridge again today with a girl I met a couple of months ago. She’s the niece of a really talented and well known artist around here. I like her edgy look and thought she’d look nice in wet plate. We drove for like an hour to this location, which I had originally set aside for my first 12×20 plate (I’ll still do it, there’s more to this composition for a panorama)
Here is the 20×24 silver tank I had made with a terrible dodgy brace/leg systen. Originally I needed about 14 litres of silver nitrate to fill… way too much.. that’s more than $1200! But I have it chocked out with styrofoam nearly halving the volume to only 7.5 litres to immerse a 12×20 plate. Not bad. Bonus of this tank is it can do 16×20 plates if i ever go that big, although unlikely. 11×14 and 12×20 is good enough for a long time.
So last night it was driving me nuts while I was in bed. Lying there thinking about the varnish and the evenness of developing on the big plates and just lay there brainstorming. Then I picked up my copy of the Silver Sunbeam (the original wet plate manual) and started reading the section about the varnish…
My 12×20 camera arrived last week. I was watching the Australia Post app like a hawk. I was literally waiting at the door when the postman arrived at 7pm. Cost me a fortune in duty but as mercy would have it, the seller was kind enough to pay the duties for me, without even asking. Faith in humanity restored.
It really is a wonderful camera, and in pretty good condition for it’s age. I knew cosmetics weren’t important but I was surprised anyway. The plate holder, thankfully, is good to go and no major modification is necessary. The plates look as though they sit right in the registration zone, same measurement as the film. Unfortunately I damaged one side of the plate holder when I varnished it (to seal it against silver nitrate) and the light trap got damaged. Luckily, the other side is still ok but I will need to use my dark cloth to cover the plate holder to stop any potential light leaks as the light trap on that side is a little worn as well.
12×20 plate holder, painted and varnished to protect against fogging and silver corrosion