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Oxford: glass dry plate portrait

Friday, March 1st, 2024

Here is my first portrait on dry glass plate. I found a box of old Ilford FP4 glass dry plates at home and have no idea when I bought them. The box doesn’t have an expiry date on it. As luck would have it they’re the correct size  (2.5 x 3.5 inches) to fit the Mamiya Press plate holders I’ve got but so far have been unable to make use of. This portrait of another fellow photographer during his visit to Oxford was made last weekend in Radcliffe Square. I don’t know him but I enjoyed chatting about photography with him as I set up the shot. I’m very pleased with this result (it has a vintage feel to it) and look forward to making more portraits with the remaining glass plates. The emulsion is very fragile when wet and you can see it lifted along the right hand side.

[Tech info:] Mamiya Press Super 23, 100/2.8 lens (at f4), FP4 glass dry plate exposed at ISO 10, developed in Rodinal 1+25. (Thanks to Nicholas Middleton for his inspiration and blog posts full of info about using old glass plates).


Vintage: glass plate photography

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

This is the first blog post I’ve made that doesn’t feature any of my own photography and to be honest I don’t know who the original photographer is. All I can tell you is that a box full of these glass plate negatives was on sale at a local charity shop here in Oxford and last week they were purchased by a gentleman visiting from the U.S. – he has been very generous to allow me to borrow them so that I can make some contact prints. I only borrowed them earlier today so I was keen to make some scans to see exactly what was on them.

All of the images in the box are of window displays for a tobacconist called Lewis. The name Lewis is handwritten in pencil on the outside of the box lid and some of the plates have reference numbers written along the edge as well as location information. One of them has Luton written on it. The measure approximately 6.5 inches x 8.5 inches and I can only assume that the original photographer was photographing these shops as a commercial job, commissioned by Lewis to do so or it was a personal project. It makes me a little sad to think of all of the work that went into making these images however many decades ago and they end up being donated to a charity shop.

Many thanks to Ken for the loan of these glass plates. I really enjoyed scanning these and I look forward to making some contact prints from them in the coming weeks.

The lid of the box the glass plates were in

Shot 1

Shot 2. The exposure time for this shot must have been quite slow because there is motion blur from the men inside the shop

Shot 3

Shot 4

Shot 5

To show how detailed these images are, here's a crop of a small part of this image that's less than half the full resolution of my scanner