Got Cameras?

ebay is my source for cameras. There is a seller there who sells original dry plate cameras from of old. There is a closed factory in India he has access to. Sort of like Aladdin’s Cave. It is full of treasure and every now and then he posts some of the inventory for sale on his web ebay store.

His ebay id is The way to find him is to go to ebay and do an advanced search. Choose to search by seller and enter the name.

His ebay store is called maxcamera-lenses. Type:  into your toolbar.



Dry Plate photography was invented by Dr. Richard L. Maddox in 1871.

Charles Bennett invented a method of hardening the emulsion in 1873. It became more resistant to friction. He also discovered that by heating emulsion for a long time or a longer than usual time the speed of the emulsion was increased greatly.

George Eastman developed a plate coating machine in 1879.



George Eastman began to study photography in 1877 using wet plate methods. He subscribed to the British Journal of Photography and in the first issue he received read that Charles Bennett had made dry plates faster in exposure to light. George Eastman used to make his own emulsions and pour it from a teakettle onto glass plates, using a glass rod to move it around. Then he invented a machine to do it.

Dry plate photographers advertised greatly in photographic journals in the mid 1870s. Everyone used to make their own dry plates. the Wixard of Photography


Joseph Wilson Swan is said to have invented the dry plate in 1871 also. (The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopaedia)

In 1878 dry plates were produced greatly because of experiments by J Burgess and Richard Kennett that made stable emulsion and greater sensitivity. By 1880 sensitivity was so great that only a fraction of a second was required to expose a plate., Early Photographic Processes, Dry Plates


I guess I am to become an amateur dry plate manufacturer. They are so slow now that I could run and get into the picture before the cap is to be replaced over the lens. I have a home darkroom, a cottage industry, making dry plates. Starting with the very simplest materials and tools, I have made dry plate negatives. My work is documented, noted, printed into books, and shared on the internet. I too am excited to do this work as were the gentlemen of old. Photographic materials are readily available today as they were in 1880.

Try prolonged heating of emulsion during the ripening stage to increase sensitivity like Charles Bennett did in 1878.


Clean jug  Today I scored a cooler for ice in the darkroom. I was leaving the gym and went next door to the Re-Store, Habitat for Humanity recycle store, and found a .75 cent cooler! BINGO, I said. That’ll go nicely with the water heater I bought on ebay.

The Light Farm has very good photographs showing lab equipment to get or at least what was used in the article. I looked up the name on the web off the heater in the photo and found a new one. It was cheap enough for me so I bought it.

That pair of items puts me just that much closer to making my own emulsions in my darkroom.


My address on YouTube is studiocarter1. So, that would be

There are more videos on YouTube than I will put on this blog. You can go there to see more about how to make dry plates.  All you have to do to find me is type



8 Plates

Small 35mm film canisters are inconvenient to use when pouring a lot of 4×5 inch plates. More emulsion may be heated in one container and all of them poured from it. I’ve started collecting different tea pots and such to determine which are best to use.

Melt Emulsion

New Liquid Light emulsion is melted and put into 35mm film canisters. One film can will coat two 4×5 inch plates, pouring them by hand.  The small amounts are great in order to keep the bulk of the emulsion cool while determining exposure and development times and so forth.

A Resource

There used to be some very helpful pictures on the web about how to pour a plate with liquid emulsion. They were difficult to get to, you had to know where to look for them. Now they are gone. Or, at least I no longer know where to find them. There was also a 10 page article about the dry plate photographic process that is no longer available. Good thing I downloaded them. No, I cannot publish them here because they belong to someone else. They are good resources for me. But, I can photograph myself pouring plates and I can write about the process then post them here. This web site is about Dry Plate Photography and I am an art teacher.

There is another web site devoted to the Dry Plate Photography process, it is called It is the only such site that I have ever seen. Fantastic as it it, I still want my own site that is about the same subject. That one may go away, may it stay forever. I like different resources to learn from. I learn by doing and writing is a big part of how I learn. By making a web about what I am learning I will learn better. Besides, someone else may come on board and do some work here, too. Comments are open so viewers may participate. My approach is different and unique to me. There is at least one article on The Light Farm that I wrote. However, everything that I want to write about can’t be put there. So, I have this site.

How to Control the Temperature of Emulsion

The easy way is to use hot water from the tap to melt it. My hot water tank is set on the default arrow and is 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The dial may be set lower or higher. A container is filled with the hot water and a jar of emulsion is floated in it. The temperature will drop over time to 110 degrees and it must then be raised again in order to get all of the emulsion to liquify by the time it is cooled again. More water will hold temperature longer than a small quantity. A small office or bathroom sized plastic trash container is used to melt a bottle of Liquid Light. Emulsion is solid at room temperature. It takes a while to do this but at lower temperatures, say 120 degrees, it takes an hour or longer. So it is best to start higher at 130 degrees F. Close monitoring of temperatures will speed things along.

During pouring plates, emulsion flows better when it is warmer. I aim at 120 degrees F. because that worked for me. During another test, if the temperature is lower, 110 degrees F., a surfactant may be added to improve flow. 5 ml of Everclear pure grain alcohol in 25 ml Liquid Light worked for me. However, bubbles were a problem in the photograph. I hand stirred the mixture in a film canister, using the thermometer, 100 times. A 35mm film canister holds 30 ml of emulsion. Leaving 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch at the top provides room for 5 ml of surfactant.

A new piece of equipment in my darkroom is a mug warmer. I thought it only went up to 110 degrees F. That is why the temperature of the last emulsion melting experiment was at 110. I wanted to see if Everclear did indeed work at increasing flow and it did. Further testing of the mug warmer showed a high temperature of 120 and perhaps a little bit more.

A stainless steel mug fits perfectly on the hot plate. If that cup is filled with warm water to begin with, the mug warmer will reach 120 degrees in under an hour and stay at that level. A full 35mm can of cold emulsion put into the mug will lower the temperature of the water, however. There isn’t enough volume of water to compensate. The canister should be preheated. Don’t use the mug to melt the emulsion first, use a large Pyrex measuring cup. The mug warmer may be used to keep the can warm during pouring two 4×5 glass plates.