Hi All,
As I mentioned in a past post I am going to learn to make ambrotypes, ferrotypes and albumin prints. For those who don’t know, these are some of the oldest photo processes there are. You can’t get much farther from digital. While I do enjoy digital and it’s capabilities I sometimes miss the craftsmanship that the darkroom has to offer. The image coming up in the developer is a moment all photographers who know their way around a darkroom remember well. It is hard to imagine that there are so many photographers these days that have never developed film or prints on there own. That is why I have come to Dundee, NY to learn from John Coffer. John is considered to be one of the foremost masters of the wet plate process. He has taught many of the better practitioners of the art today. One thing that sets his teaching apart is that it occurs out of doors. Most classes that I researched were short demonstrations in modern darkrooms. That is fine if everything you photograph is located near your darkroom. What do you do if you want to photograph something outside? Edward S. Curtis traveled the west documenting the indian tribes using this process. The photographs you have seen from the American Civil War were photographed this way. It has a look that is so beautiful and unique that it can’t be duplicated any other way. I have seen attempts and they fall far short. I hope this peaks your interest enough to check the process out and to look up some of the work of the old masters of the art. I will post more soon. It is going to be a fun three days. I hope you’ll check back.






Hi, here from baidu, i enjoyng this, i will come back again.

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John is a great guy. I spent four days one-on-one at Camp Tintype back in November….what a great time. I look forward to going to the Jamboree in a few weeks! I see you got “Toes” the cat in your second pic. Enjoy the collodion.

Hello Jay,
Thanks for pointing out my error. I made the mistake of not thinking he kept up with the evolution of the photographic process. His early work was obviously done with wet plates but like the rest of us he used the best new tools that were available and useful for the situation (which faster plates certainly would have been). I will look for the dvd you mentioned. Thanks again.



The evolution of the photographic process has been remarkable. You mentioned ES Curtis, and I believe he surfed the wave of the dry plate.
Viewing ES Curtis images is a journey to where the brush and canvas met the age of photography.

Curtis used the lens, and new faster “dry plate negatives” to make fast shutter speed (up to 1/100 sec) portraits that were free of blurred eyes, and gaunt expressions.

Did he make/change history with his vision of the “vanishing race”? Was he just an artist trying to make his mark? Bring yourself closer to an answer.

Search out “THE INDIAN PICTURE OPERA”, Amazon.com (dvd). It’s a 1911 Curtis lecture and slide show that indicates what he was thinking at the time. Decide for yourself what impact he thought he would have.


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