Glass Plates - Old

Fine art photography on vintage and antique glass plates of images made with antique cameras.

I mostly use photographic paper instead of the glass plates that would have been used originally in the cameras from c1900.

In a small secondhand camera shop in Dorset, I found for sale a box of photographic glass plates from the early 1930s and had to try these in my cameras. I later sourced more old plates through online auction sites

Using the ISO as very slow 2 I got some success, once I hasd worked out which face of the plate was light sensitive. The plates have a dark backing so have to be used the correct way round. They were packed with the outer plates of the pile of 12 with the light sensitive side facing inwards. The rest of the plates were in pairs facing each other. The plates show various aged effects from mottling to spots and some fern-like impressions. Each effect adding atmosphere to the image. 

Knowing the kind of artefacts the plates produce, I now choose subjects that will benefit from this medium. The plates that don’t work out are cleaned and used for wet plate collodion work.


Some plates are orthochromatic and processed under red light, some are panchromatic and can be processed under a special green light in the darkroom. 


I make digital and paper prints from these negatives. Digital, because the images are often too low in contrast to readily make contact prints.