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T I N   T Y P E   8  X  10  P H O T O G R  A P H Y
  w e t   p l a t e   c o l l o d i o n   p h o t o g r a p h y . Discovered by Frederick Archer in 1851, it became the most popular technique for capturing an image well into the 20th century. These images are ‘tintypes’ which is a variation of the wet plate process, where a thin negative is created on a glossy black surface. The image ‘reverses’ itself on viewing under direct light, the deposited silver reflecting the light and appearing as ‘white’ in the image. Also known as ‘ambrotype’, this process brings back the magic of surface to an image and has attracted many photographers dissatisfied by the ubiquitous inkjet imagery that floods exhibition spaces. As well as the rich and unusual tonality, there is a sense of random unpredictability (at least to the practitioner) who must transport his or her portable darkroom to the subject. From the coating of the plate, exposure and development, there is a maximum interval of around 10 minutes. Each plate has it’s own signature of how the collodion was poured and sensitised. An historian could discern whether a photographer was right or left handed. There is a different way of looking at collodion (tintype) photographs. The familiar tonalities of a black and white image are upturned, reds are seen as black, blues disappear, and one is forced to engage in an all-over way with the image. That is to say, that familiar foreground, middle ground and distance tonal values are subverted somewhat, creating an uncanny sense of timelessness.
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