How an Ambrotype Photograph is Made

Do you ever get bored at work, start doodling, and then have a magnificent creation made out of wood, plastic, and duct tape 10 hours later? Well, that’s just what happened to tintype and film photographer Giles Clement. He built a 16×20 ambrotype in less than half a day and is getting some amazing results from it. Here’s how:

The ambrotype process was invented in 1851 by Frederic Scott Archer. He was hoping to produce photographic negatives on ordinary glass plates. It replaced the daguerreotype, and in itself was replaced by tintype photography just a few years later.

Home Built Ambrotype Camera

Clement specializes in both tintype and film photography and prefers equipment that is from an era where everything was made by hand. On his website he writes,

“…none of it is perfect but the inherent eccentricities lend themselves to my images and help me see things in a unique and beautiful way.”

glass plate photo

Well, this wood and duct tape camera may not be perfect, but the exposures turned out hauntingly beautiful.

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One Comment

  1. Wendy says:

    I don’t have the room or someone to teach me classic developing, but I’m so frustrated at having this uncontrollable phase between my image on the screen and what comes back from a commercial photolab. Sure cobbling a camber together is fun, but how do you deal with the chemistry getting banned left and right?

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