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Processing Glass Plate Negatives

Two types of glass negative processes, dry- and wet-plate collodion, were utilized in the photographs featured. The wet-plate, or wet collodion, process was used from 1851 through the 1880s and required the plates be processed within minutes of exposure before the coating dried. The dry-plate process gained popularity in the 1870s after Richard Leach Maddox suggested silver bromide held in a layer of gelatin for coating dry plates and simplified the process and were produced in large numbers within the decade(1).


Dry Plate Process(2)

•Place the dry plate into a plate holder then into a camera
•Slide the cover from the plate holder to uncover the plate
•Uncover then recover lens (sometimes a fraction of a second of exposure was enough)
•Slide plate cover hold back over the dark slide
•Remove plate holder from camera and take home to process

Below is a video of HCSCC Archivist Mark Peihl taking viewers through the Wet Plate proccess.


1. EdinPhoto, "Early Photographraphic Processes, Dry Plates," <>, (accessed 4 November 2017).

2. EdinPhoto, "Early Photographraphic Processes, Dry Plates," <>, (accessed 4 November 2017).

3. EdinPhoto, "Early Phographic Processes, Wet Collodion Process, 1851-1880s," <>, (accessed 4 November 2017).