There’s a first time for everything
A new milestone, trying to work completely outdoors. I’ve bought a Quickfish 2 Ice Fishing tent recently, to use as portable darkroom. Although it was extremely windy today, I finally wanted to take the plunge after not having shot for over a month.
Made fresh collodion, developer, fix & varnish, all from scratch. Did some maintenance on my silverbath as well… Added a new lens to the mix for extra uncertainty and I was good to go !
I replaced one of the windows with ruby lith film. I used self adhesive velcro on both sides, which worked great. It’s quite bright inside, definitely bright enough to work comfortably.
Then I poured my first plate… I’m not sure there’s any way to fix it, but pouring in strong wind seems to offer quite a challenge. The ether and alcohol evaporate so quickly, it’s almost impossible to get a nice even pour. Easy fix would be to pour inside of the tent, which I’ll do next time.
My first testplate came out looking rather, erm…, crappy. No blacks at all. ( two portraits below) First I thought it was overexposed, but reducing the exposure did not fix it… Slight panic…
Developer problem perhaps ? Bad collodion ? What did I change ? Everything except for the camera… Bummer. It’s not that hot today, and I’ve put my developer in the fridge, so overdevelopment is unlikely. The collodion was mixed about a week ago, but with the same recipe as usual…
Time to start troubleshooting, one variable at a time. Nr 1 : rule out camera issue. A light leak perhaps. It’s the first time I use this camera and plate holder in a situation with bright light allaround. I decided to pour a plate, sensitize it, and develop immediately. No exposure, so the result should be an all black plate. Nope. A dull gray plate, no blacks, just like the exposed plate (upper right)
So the camera is not the issue.
So let’s check the tent… I might have been too optimistic in terms of what is an exceptable amount of daylight that is allowed to enter the tent through the zipper, and the windows that I did not put ruby lith on. I put some blankets over the tent as a quick fix, except for the wall with the ruby lith window, and tadaa.. an almost black plate… (upper left)
a) I need to fix the tent setup… There’s small flaps of blackout material on the windows, but clearly, it’s not effective enough. I plan to add ruby lith or blackout material into all of the windows, using the same velcro method I used for the one ruby lith window I have now.
b) Don’t panic. Think, change one thing at a time, and hunt down the issue… There’s no magic, and an explanation for everything.