Create a wet-plate effect
A digital quick fix for one of the world’s oldest photographic processes
The wet-plate collodion process was invented by English sculptor Frederick Scott Archer in 1851, and due to its ability to record fine detail using relatively short exposures (for the day) it went on to revolutionise photography for decades. The traditional process is still popular today among a dedicated group of analogue photographers, primarily in the USA, but it’s incredibly complicated; it requires the coating of glass plates with homemade emulsion on location, so they can be exposed while still wet (hence the name) and processed immediately after exposure. You basically have to take a chemical lab and darkroom everywhere you go, as well as a large-format camera!
If that all sounds just a little too involved, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a digital alternative. The purpose of this tutorial is to take you through it step by step, from shooting the initial portrait to finalising the edited image. You do need a basic understanding of Photoshop to master this technique, but after a few attempts you’ll know the steps off by heart and be producing fantastic wet-plate images every time.
RightREVEALING CHARACTER THE WET-PLATE EFFECT LOOKS AMAZING, BUT DONE TRADITIONALLY, IT’S VERY COMPLICATED AND TIME-CONSUMING. THE DIGITAL EQUIVALENT IS SO MUCH QUICKER AND EASIER AND AS EVERY IMAGE IS DIFFERENT, YOU CAN ADD YOUR OWN PERSONAL TOUCHALL IMAGES © LEE FROST