|My photo-partner in this escapade, Susan McLaughlin, and her '65 Triumph Bonneville|
|Jeff Scott, Pd'O, and the little Velo GTP two-stroke...|
|...seen better in this image. This 1939 model is a 250cc, the last of the Velo two-strokes, which were their mainstay from 1905 until they started making OHC 'K' models in 1925|
|Gil Loe and his Velocette Venom|
|Hanging out with the Bonnie at the end of a good day's ride...(this photo has been digitally 'reversed')|
|Dai Gibbison from Wales, owner of the Velocette Technical Forum|
|Frank Recoder from Mexico rides a Thruxton|
|The Velocetting Hassel family|
|Pete Young of Occhiolungo|
|The Young family and their '39 Velo MSS with sidecar|
After exposure, the plate must be developed before the collodion/silver dries, which is why the technique is called 'wet plate'. We pour developer over the exposed plate in a darkroom (in this case my Sprinter, with blackout fabric taped over the windows), then it can be soaked in fixer (same kind as with paper images - sodium thiosulfate), and washed for 10 minutes in a hotel bathtub. It's possible to tell if the image is properly exposed within 2 minutes of taking the photo, so your subjects don't have time to flee if you need to re-shoot...although I find people generally love having their photo taken, and are fascinated by the process. Except for women, who usually hate how they look in the UV light spectrum the 'wet plate' is sensitive to; it adds 'character'.
Scratches on the plate usually occur when moving plates from my van to the hotel bathtub, when the collodion is really vulnerable...we're working on a better 'in the field' carrier. Variations in exposure, chemical residue, incomplete coverage with the collodion, 'mistakes' with developer, all add to the unpredictable character of the process, which is its fundamental charm.