27 September 2021 08:32

Photography video graphics web | Florence Tiber-Valley Experience
Photography video graphics web | Florence Tiber-Valley Experience

Wet Plate Collodion Photography Workshop | Città Di Castello Umbria


09 Oct 2020 - 11 Oct 2020


TheDarkroom Academy Tiber Valley
Via Biturgense 100, Città di Castello, Perugia



In Brief

Three-days weekend workshop Wet Plate Collodion Photography Umbria and Salt Paper Printing in Città di Castello, Umbria

3 days Full-Immersion

21 hours in total, between Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Lessons in English
Level: demonstrative, basic / intermediate / advanced

Closed number course: max 6 participants allowed
Registration closes 1 week before course starts


You are applying for a three-days weekend workshop, full-immersion type (hands-on) for to learn how do the wet plate collodion photography process and the salt printing process on your own.

What is wet collodion process?

Wet-collodion process, also called collodion process, early photographic technique invented by Englishman Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. The process involved adding a soluble iodide to a solution of collodion (cellulose nitrate) and coating a glass plate with the mixture. In the darkroom the plate is immersed in a solution of silver nitrate to form silver iodide. The plate, still wet, is exposed in the camera. It is then developed by pouring a solution of pyrogallic acid over it and is fixed with a strong solution of sodium thiosulfate.

The wet collodion, in its two ambrotype and ferrotype variants, is certainly the technique that allowed the spread of black and white photography on a large scale. Developed towards the end of the 1800s, it allowed the creation of the first negatives on a glass plate (ambrotypes) which were initially printed in contact on salt paper, but also suitable for enlargement. The ferrotype technique instead gives rise to direct positives on metal plates.

In both cases it is a matter of creating two objects that belong to the first ancient printing techniques used in photography, that nowadays go under the category of photographic alternative processes.

What will you do in this Wet Plate Collodion Photography Umbria?

You will part of a group of max 6 students. You will operate on a 9×12 cm to 18×24 cm camera to make some wet plates per day each, and get some salt prints to be made during the last day of workshop.

We will work mainly with aluminotypes and do some ambrotypes (glass negatives) for the salt prints of the last day. You will go back home with at least some good tintypes, some glass negatives and good salt prints.

This workshop of alternative photographic processes will also deliver a know-how to work with a portable darkroom for field wet-plate collodion photography. You will also challenge yourself with studio lighting for indoor portraiture photography.

Learning outcomes at the end of these three-days alternative processes workshop in Umbria

Our goals with this program on wet plate collodion photography and salt paper are to provide you with basic notions on use of chemicals, formulas for wet plate collodion, safety measures to handle chemicals and materials, procedures for preparing wet plates on your own and to get them developed and fully finished.

With the studio and field photography program you will understand the necessary gears for to carry out wet plate collodion indoor and how to make a portable darkroom on your own for to carry out the same technique in the field.

During the last day you will learn how to prepare good negatives suitable for the salt paper printing technique and you will make some salt prints from scratches.

What you need to bring

All materials and equipment needed are provided with the course fee. Students should be equipped with the following personal materials:

  • every student should show up with a proper protective apron against staining; these chemicals stain permanently clothes so be prepared with that and use clothings you don’t care; if you get stains on your skin they will last for at most a week and they are not dangerous for your health; also shoes are at staining risk, consider a shoe change for to work carelessly;
  • chemical stains on your eyes may be a serious issue! please wear protective clear glasses for to keep your eyes safe while working with certain chemicals in the darkroom; you can buy them at a budget in any hardware store;
  • for the above mentioned reason of skin staining, please provide a box of disposable latex gloves of your size for to handle chemicals during the three days processes; unless your fingers will turn black.

Accommodation around the facility in Città di Castello, Tiber Valley, Umbria, Italy.

This alternative photography workshop is held in Città di Castello, in the middle of the Umbrian Tiber Valley.

This package does not include accommodation, lunch and dinner. These must be arranged personally by each participant. We can help you with the possible tips and solutions to find cheap accommodation such as B&B, country houses and hotels which are available nearby the workshop location. Just inquiry us.


Program of the three-days Wet Plate Collodion Photography Workshop Umbria

1st day

Friday morning, meeting at the premise at 9:30

In brief

  • Collodion, what’s this unknown and old photographic process
  • theory and formulas for wet plate collodion
  • chemistry preparation
  • introduction to wet plate cameras, modern and vintage, and to the use of the portable darkroom
  • sample tests shooting with tintypes in the studio
  • how to use flash light for studio photography

In details

The course begins with the study of wet collodion process. We will take a journey through history of ancient photographic processes. This study is fundamental to understand how the idea of ​​wet collodion was born and why it has been so successful on other techniques that were experimented at the time, including the daguerreotype. You will see how collodion was the precursor of all modern photographic technique, the one that led to the classic film that we still use today.

Such a short historical journey will be – hopefully – inspiring to you to deepen other alternative processes in the next future and expand this way your creativity.

The program continues with the study on the process and chemistry. Collodion allows a vast choice of possibilities, each one depending on everyone’s tastes. In this workshop we will try to head everyone to their best path, with the presentation of a basic procedure that is easy to handle, even for beginners.

After the necessary solutions are ready, we will move on to the sensitization of some plates and to make some test shots, to demonstrate how the whole process takes place.

Lunch: TBA independently.

In the afternoon each participant will prepare their own plate and take their own photograph. Everyone will have the opportunity to carry out the whole process of wet collodion with their own hands, so that everyone can shoot and develop a ferrotype (the positive version) and an ambrotype (the negative version).

2nd day

Saturday morning, meeting at the premise at 9:30

In brief

  • all day long working on shooting in outdoor with wet plates and portable darkroom
  • making of tintypes and ambrotypes (glass negatives)

In details

The second day is entirely dedicated to the production of tintypes and negatives for to allow participants t experiment, to learn and to master every technique necessary to wet plate collodion photography.

Some shots will be taken in the studio, for to refresh the techniques learnt during the first day. Some other shots will be taken in outdoors with the use of the portable darkroom. Students will understand the limits in using a portable darkroom while making shots in the countryside around the workshop location.

3rd day

Sunday morning, meeting at the premise at 9:30

In brief

  • fine tuning glass negatives for salt paper printing
  • salt paper preparation
  • printing out glass negatives on salt paper

In details

On the last day of the workshop we will talk about salt paper and how this invention was made by William Henri Fox Talbot. We will see how its commercial applications was unfolded, what the advantages on collodion were as well as its limits.

We will prepare the necessary solutions for the papers and give all the detailed procedure to be able to make successfully prints on salted paper at home.

Afterwords we will shoot some pictures on negatives with the view camera and prepare some ambrotypes for the salt paper process.

Lunch: TBA independently.

Printing, washing and finishing of the salted papers, in order to allow everyone to take home at least a good and finished copy of the work that we could have done.


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