I got a good night’s sleep last night and as a result feel human today. Although Monday, today is a holiday. My wife is away on business (she texted me this morning that she was still alive, a few minutes after a 5.4 earthquake in Tokyo), the kids are resting and/or studying, the cats are sleeping. So, after vacuuming the downstairs and mopping a few floors I saw no reason not to set up my photographic gear and make a couple alutypes in the backyard.
Initially I wanted to take a picture of the rosebush in the flower bed in front of the house, but it was too windy – the roses would have blurred too much with a 2 or 3 second exposure.
So I picked some roses, put them in a vase and took pictures of them on a table against the wall of the neighbor’s shed, which is white-ish stucco.
I tried a couple different collodions. The first picture uses a newer collodion, which is quite a bit faster than that used for the second picture, it being both a different formula and about a year old – normally, I believe, one uses collodion up after a few months because it gets slower over time and also maybe unstable, but I’m not sure.
I’m just trying different things out. It went well today, I was happy with the first picture, which was only a test really. Less happy with the second, which came out a little dark. They will both get darker again when I varnish them tonight.
From what I have been able to find out after looking for a few minutes, older collodion gets slower and more contrasty, which some people prefer. Some people like to mix old and new collodion.
(I have also heard that mixing new and old (and/or used) developer can increase contrast, as can adding a few drops of silver nitrate solution (for example, letting a few drops drip from the plate into the developer when plate is first removed from the silver bath) – I have been trying this but am not sure yet what causes what. I like some of the results I have been getting – more contrast, but also messier looking, with a lot of texture, which can be good or bad depending on what you want and how it turns out. I generally like it.)
I varnished the two plates above. The first one went okay – I still have to get the hang of pouring the varnish smoothly. Also, when I held the varnished plate over the alcohol lamp, it went FLOOF!!! and burst into flame and I blew it out and it had an irregular matte finish from that and I revarnished it and it looked better, although imperfect. Unfortunately, things went worse with the second plate – I heated it, poured the varnish and the collodion dissolved and the entire image ran off the plate.
This happens sometimes. It has happened to me a couple times. I suspect it has something to do with the collodion – the collodion I used for the second plate was older, which might have something to do with it – the alcohol in the varnish apparently dissolved the collodion base.
Or something. This, I guess, is why we scan the plate before varnishing…