Steve Cushing Impresionist Fine Art Photography

Embracing imperfection, recording emotions, one impression at a time…

Early Photography

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Towards the birth of photography, photographers used glass and metal to capture images before paper was introduced. Wet plate photography was very famous since its invention in the late 1830s.

Nowadays, photographers are stepping back in time and trying this process again. My image here is taken using wet plate photography.
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Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes were the first three early photographic processes to gain widespread popularity. They were used all over the States from its inception during the 19th century.

Daguerreotypes were invented first, then came the Ambrotype and lastly the Tintype. These are all called wet plate or wet plate collodion processes. You expose an image onto glass or metal where the chemicals are still wet.

Between 1951 and 1880, the wet collodion process was the predominant method in creating photographs throughout Europe.


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My photography here was taken using wet collodion which is is a photographic process attributed to the Englishman Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. This wet collodion process was never patented, and so made photography more widely available.

The collodion process replaced, therefore, the daguerreotype as the predominant photographic process by the end of the 1850’s. It was eventually replaced in the 1880’s with the introduction of the gelatin silver process.

Collodion is cellulose nitrate dissolved in a mixture of alcohol and ether that is spread on a glass plate. When this syrupy mixture begins to set on the glass, the plate is immersed in a bath of silver nitrate to sensitise it, the salts contained in the film are thus transformed into light-sensitive silver halide.

The plate is then drained, it is transferred to a light-tight frame. All these operations are carried out in a dark room.

We can then take a picture with the camera. The plate should then be immediately developed in a chamber illuminated with bright red light (silver nitrate being insensitive to red light) with gallic acid or iron sulphate and then fixed with sodium thiosulfate or potassium cyanide.

This process was very popular until around 1870-1880 because it made it possible to obtain images of great finesse and to render a particularly wide range of grays.

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