The man behind Photobooth, a tintype portrait studio in San Francisco, has made a couple of interesting videos revealing the historic process he uses to create the 4 x 5 works of art. Photobooth co-founder, Michael Shindler, says that though the process dates back to 1800’s, it’s still very much alive and growing. The entire tintype process–from preparing the tin for exposure to developing the photograph–is done entirely in Shindlers strorefront and takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. In the first video, Shindler quickly recaps the process as well as sharing details of what drew and held his interest in tintype, have a look here:
If that left you wanting to know more about tintype procedure and how you might get started making your own, the next video will be especially helpful. Will and Norm from Tested.com visited Photobooth to get the full rundown on The Science of Tintype Photography from Shindler. During the 15 minute interview, Shindler shares with viewers not just the details of the chemical process, but also goes into depth about the type of tin plates he uses and touches on how he was able to modify his Sinar 4 x5 film camera. You can dig a little deeper right here:
The surprisingly fast process starts in the dark room where the tin plates are made light sensitive with collodion, cadmium bromide, and ammonium iodide which, when mixed, form silver bromide and silver iodide. The plate is then given a silver nitrate bath to make the bromide and iodide light sensitive. The now light sensitive plate is loaded into a modified sheet film holder and is ready to be used. Work fast, however, as this is a wet plate process meaning the plate must stay wet the entire time in order to get an image. That means you have about a 10 minute window to take your photo and get the plate back to the darkroom and into a tank of developer.
“People right now are looking for ways to experiment with photography. We really have seen a lot of interest in film or a kind of photography where the process itself is going to impart it’s own flavor to the finished image.”