Tintypes have always been made by hand. We are continuing that tradition, imbuing each Tintype Print with that imperfect but wonderful human touch.
Your digital photo.
It all starts with your digital photo. A quality digital photo makes a quality Tintype Print.
Make a film negative.
From your digital photo we make a black & white film negative specially tuned for our wetplate chemistry.
Set up the camera.
Depending on the size you choose we either use an enlarger or a process camera. Either way, the optics and light must be adjusted for size, focus, and exposure.
Prepare the metal plate.
We use extra thick (0.063”) aluminum that is coated black on both sides. The edges of each plate are hand sanded to remove any sharp edges and then the plate is cleaned.
Pour the plate.
Collodion, salted with iodides and bromides, forms the “emulsion” base that both adheres to the metal plate and forms part of the chemistry for the creation of light sensitive silver halides. We coat the metal plate by pouring this onto the picture side, kicking off the wet stage of wetplate photography.
Soak the plate in a bath of silver.
We place the freshly coated plate into a bath of silver nitrate dissolved in water. Interactions between the collodion and the silver nitrate create the light sensitive silver halides that are the basis for most pre-digital photography.
Make the exposure.
Now sensitive to light, the plate is placed into position in the camera or enlarger and we make an exposure of the negative carrying the image of your digital photo.
Develop the plate.
You can’t tell by looking, but there is a latent image hidden in the exposed plate. This image is revealed by the energy contained in the developer, which we carefully pour on the plate.
It may not seem like a big deal, but knowing when to stop developing is one of the most important skills in wetplate work. We stop the development process with clean water, and continue to thoroughly rinse the plate before moving on to the next step.
Fix the plate.
Tintypes are technically negative images, something we have to compensate for in advance with the negative, and so the image we see after developing the plate is a negative of your digital photo. We place the plate into a bath of fixer, which removes the unexposed silver halides and stabilizes the image.
Dry the plate.
Since we first poured the collodion the plate has been wet. Once the fixer has been thoroughly rinsed from the plate we place it in a dust free environment for drying. Once dry, we can finally see the bright metallic silver image in full.
Protect the image.
We apply a protective coating to protect the image on your new Tintype Print from the realities of life.
We just made a silver photograph on metal from your digital photo, and did it entirely by hand. Awesome!
Now we pack it carefully and send it off so you can enjoy it for years to come.