So...let's just say that it doesn't always work out the way you want it to. Kind of a life-ism, possibly, but many times true in Wet Plate Photography. I was on vacation in upstate New York and had the chemistry on hand...had the camera in the car, but no dark box and no red light. Without the darkbox and light, there would be no wet plate shooting...but I HAD everything else...so....I thought I'd give it a shot and create a quickie, cheap Dark Box with light. I headed to the dollar store and the hardware store. For about $60, I build my darkbox and had a flashlight with an untested red tupperware filter...see below. Collodion is not sensitive to red light, thus you can have a red light on in your darkroom and not expose the film. Usually you need a red glass filter over your light.
So this is my DIY Dark Box Project that Almost worked and a few very interesting plates that came from it...
Ok, so at the dollar store, I found some red tupperware lids that had an opening as wide as the flashlight that I bought. I thought it was perfect!. I had no idea if this was good enough, but I thought it was a shot.
Here's the quickie dark box that I created out of some simple cardboard and packing tape.
add in a large tarp for the light proofing and there you have it! Darkroom in a box. :)
Ok, so all was well. I had the chemistry, the dark box, the camera, materials...let's find a destination.
I was in upstate New York, near Naples and I remembered a really old cemetary there that I drove by that was near our bed and breakfast. I thought it would make an interesting backdrop. My wife and I took off and found it. I found a tombstone that I thought was interesting. The name on the tombstone was LYON. This person was alive from 1815-1902. There happened to be a LYON Street in the town of Naples as well, so I'm sure this individual's family had something to do with the town's origins. It was also one of the more beautiful tombstones in the cemetary, half of which contained graves of people born in the 1800's. Since I was shooting an art form that was also born in the 1800's, I thought it would be an appropriate place to document.
So here's the moment of truth...was my red tupperware filtered light good enough, or not the right red(it was only tupperware...)
Let's just say that it didn't go as planned...
Both of these images have been flipped in photoshop so that you can read it. In the original plates, the words would be backwards.
The red tupperware over my flashlight ended up not being good enough. It was exposing my plates from the beginning. Interestingly enough, they're still beautiful. The cross, in both photos shows up and the tombstone's LYON also shows up.
So, a miss for a nice wet plate, but it was a learning experience. They are quite interesting plates even with them being as flawed as they are. Since this time, I've built a proper dark box and I'm SUV Ready for travel. :)