The ChromaGraphica Double Dry Plate Holder
A new, modern double dry plate holder for 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 dry plate photography
The ChromaGraphica Double Dry Plate Holder
A new, modern double dry plate holder for 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 dry plate photography
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, September 9 2019 3:59 AM UTC +00:00.
Photographers Helping Photographers
I am a photographer. My degree and profession may say something different, but when I head home from work I'm viewing the world through the lens of potential prints. I love analog photography and the magic that happens when I develop a negative or a print. The tangibility of analog photography gives me a welcome break from the high tech world I work in. I love forever capturing a moment and place in time and painting my unique view of the world on a silver canvas, and if you're reading this I'm sure you can relate.
We live in a special era of photography. Yes, we know that film almost died when the digital revolution occurred. However, it didn't die and in fact is growing in popularity with each passing year. Not only that, but the wide variety of alternative processes that are accessible to us today is simply amazing. Being able to contribute in some small way to reviving one of those forgotten processes has been a true blessing, adventure, and learning experience all in itself.
Enough waxing romantic! Let's talk about these holders and what they're used for.
The "Forgotten" Dry Plate Process
The idea for the ChromaGraphica dry plate holder was born out of a desire to make the dry plate process more accessible to the large format community.
Gelatin dry plate photography is an analog black and white photographic process which dates from the 1870s when silver halide photographic emulsion was hand-poured onto glass plates and allowed to dry prior to use as a negative. The development of dry plate negatives made photography more convenient than the wet plate process of the mid-1800s, which required the negative (or positive image) to be exposed and developed onsite. Due to the greater convenience of flexible film, dry plate photography faded out of common use by the 1930s. For the past several decades, shooting dry plates has meant making them yourself. In 2017, I established Pictoriographica and began making and selling my own hand-made dry plates to photographers around the world.
As word spread about the new availability of dry plates, lack of a suitable solution for dry plate holders quickly became an issue. Like sheet film, light-proof holders are essential for shooting dry plate. Most people ended up using 100+ year old holders. While solutions do exist, I do not think they are ideal.
In collaboration with Steve Lloyd of Chroma Camera, we now have a satisfactory answer for all of you who have asked: The ChromaGraphica Double Dry Plate Holder.
The ChromaGraphica Dry Plate Holder - Details and Features
In September 2018, Steve Lloyd of Chroma Camera and I began working on the design for a new dry plate holder, combining our backgrounds in engineering and our experience with large format photography and dry plates. After a year's worth of design, refining, prototyping, and test iterations, we created a line of dry plate holder designs to serve the needs of photographers interested in shooting dry plate. Our design philosophy from the start has placed the emphasis on affordability, familiarity of use, and quality.
- Holds two dry plates or other glass- or metal-based media up to 2mm thick.
- J Lane Dry Plates and J Lane Speed Plates have been tested extensively with these holders.
- Ergonomics and function similar to sheet film holders. Plates load very similar to film.
- Dark slide handles have white on one side, black on the other. You can use this to indicate exposed or unexposed.
- Unique loaded dry plate indicator tells you at a glance whether you have a dry plate loaded or not.
- No more running to the darkroom to check if its loaded, or shooting that million dollar shot with an empty holder.
- The dry plate indicator also helps removal of the dry plate without touching the emulsion surface (you'll see it demonstrated in the video).
- Accommodates film sheath adapters. Engineers are realists. I know you won't be shooting dry plates exclusively. When you take a break from shooting dry plates, you don’t want a useless holder cluttering up your camera kit. So we made sure you could still use this holder to load film.
- Fits all 4x5 cameras that we've been able to test.
- An engineer's innate and unavoidable obsession with every tiny technical detail, from materials to two days' worth of research on historical selections of hinge-cloth.
In addition to J Lane Dry Plates, the holders will accommodate dry plates up to exactly 4" x 5", or 5" x 7", or 8" x 10" for those respectively-sized holders. So if you make your own dry plates like I used to (and still do!) then I definitely encourage you to keep doing so and load your plates into these holders.
This Kickstarter campaign introduces the initial release of our holders in the most common sizes of 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10. Holders for these formats will be injection molded to keep costs reasonable, while ensuring supply is able to meet the demand for these most common sizes. The use of injection molding is already well-established in large format photography, and is the obvious choice for these holders. With a design ready to go, we can immediately order the molds fabricated at campaign end so that production begins as soon as possible. This ensures that the holders are affordable and helps accomplish our goal of making dry plates a viable tool in your photographic toolbox.
Familiarity of Use
Steve and I are both experienced large format photographers, and that practical hands-on experience was a key enabler to designing an intuitive, familiar dry plate holder that works just like you would want it to. The heft of the holder is solid and reassuring. The holder is 18mm thick, slightly thicker than typical sheet film holders to accommodate the glass plate negative but not overly so. The holder will fit in all standard backs in their respective sizes. The 4x5 holder also has integrated cutouts for Graflok standard backs.
The holder holds two plates. Dry plates are bottom-loaded into the holder in the darkroom, just like sheet film holders. The dry plate is retained at the optimal depth from the surface of the holder for best focus.
In addition to practical experience, our technical and engineering backgrounds lend design rigor and emphasis on quality and ensuring the holder functions properly. Critical dimensions were determined by referring to ANSI IT3.108-1998 "Double Film Holders (Lock-Rib Type) - Dimensions" with changes to dimensions as needed to accommodate the unique needs of a glass plate negative. We adopted engineering best practices in the technical aspects of the design, including not just the iterative design process of prototyping, testing, and refining, but also in such details as selection of material for opaqueness and tolerancing of components.
The holders will also accommodate existing film sheath adapters, so you will also be able to load sheet film in our holders. Even if there comes a time when you want to take a break from shooting dry plates, you will still have a newly manufactured, high quality holder that you can load sheet film into.
In addition to ergonomics similar to sheet film holders, the ChromaGraphica holder includes a unique feature that shows you whether or not you have a dry plate loaded. This loaded plate indicator is also used to push the plate partway out so you can remove the plate without touching the surface of the emulsion.
We Need Your Help
"Finally someone out there has heard the cries for new, affordable film and dry plate holders. ChromaGraphica is a unique asset to our revitalised and growing film and traditional photography community." - EM of Emulsive.org
If successful, the ChromaGraphica will be the first mass-produced double dry plate holders available in decades. That's historic.
We've done as much as we can to develop and refine the design for a newly manufactured double dry plate holder. Now we need your help to make them a reality. The funds raised in this campaign will cover the cost of manufacturing the molds that will be needed to produce the holders. The campaign will cover an initial production run of holders as well as other costs such as shipping and packaging so that we can get these holders into your hands and enable you to start exploring dry plate photography.
Join us in making history.
Backers have their choice of holders in sizes 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10.
The Pro Packs provide you with the opportunity to order 3 holders in 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10.
The Combo Packs allow you to order a combination of sizes.
If you shoot all three sizes like I do, you can order the "I Shoot Everything" combo pack. At this funding level, I also include one of my prints.
If you don't need a plate holder but still want to support what we're doing, you can either pledge any amount or sign up for the Limited Edition Dry Plate Reward. For this pledge, you will receive an original, silver gelatin emulsion print made by yours truly, from a dry plate negative that I will take and print from exclusively for this campaign. The print will be 8x10 matted to 11x14... most likely a nice local landscape photo (I haven't taken the photo yet but I will). To make it really exclusive and awesome, I will never make a digital version of that negative or print, nor will I ever authorize a digital copy to be made of that image. In a digital world, it will be one analog image that will always remain fully analog. Fun and mysterious that way, right? :)
September 2019 - The CAD models for the holders will be finalized and submitted to the injection molding company. We will then hold a final design review and approve fabrication of the molds.
October 2019 - The molds will require approximately one month to machine. We will review initial samples to ensure everything is ready, then will approve the production run.
November 2019 - Assembly and packaging of the holders will take place.
December 2019 - Once assembly is complete, US and Rest of World orders will be shipped to Pictoriographica and UK / European orders will be shipped to Chroma Camera for distribution to our backers. Prints will also be completed and shipped out in this timeframe.
January-February 2020 - Holders should be reaching supporters in this time-frame.
Note on timing of deliveries
You will probably want to try shooting dry plates right away. Dry plates are more sensitive to seasonal changes in UV levels than modern film. Since it will be wintertime in the Northern Hemisphere, you will want to add an extra stop exposure to account for the "weaker light" of winter as 19th Century Photographers called it.
Remember: My dry plates intentionally do not benefit from the past 130+ years of developments. When you shoot them, you will be dealing with all the same quirks and characteristics that an 1880-1900 era photographer dealt with.... except you can more easily control your water temperature. I've found that my own knowledge of general photography has deepened and widened. I've put a lot of my hard-earned practical experience on my website's "Technicals and Tips" page, so please benefit from that information. I am hoping and happy to think that your photography -- regardless of what you shoot -- will benefit as well.
After a successful campaign, future development includes holders in other sizes as well as a dedicated wet plate holder.
Dry plate photography is a rewarding and accessible alternative process with a unique result and look all to its own. It allows photographers like you to expand your creativity into a medium that has been relatively ignored in the past.
Steve and I are excited to help make the world of dry plate photography more accessible to you, and we look forward to your support in this campaign.
Thank you -- each and every one of you -- for the interest and for your support!
Jason Lane, Pictoriographica
Steve Lloyd, Chroma Camera
Links to Resources
After the campaign ends you're going to want to use your shiny new holder for dry plates, right? Here are some resources for shooting dry plates *and* resources that Steve and I rely on as well for photography info, news, and inspiration. There's many more out there but we couldn't list them all!
J Lane Dry Plates and J Lane Speed Plates are available directly from Pictoriographica as well as retailers listed on the website at http://www.pictoriographica.com The retailers listed are awesome supporters of all things analog! The website also contains technical information and tips about shooting dry plates. While I'm at it, shout out to the local kids who make up the rest of the Pictoriographica team. They crank out the dry plates these days and do an awesome job at it. You know who you are and you rock!
If you're on Facebook, the Dry Plate Photographers group is a forum for dry plate makers and photographers to share their results and enthusiasm. I encourage you to join and see the results of other photographers' adventures in dry plate photography.
You can read all about Chroma Cameras at their website: http://chroma.camera/
Another great resource on dry plates -- including making your own plates and paper -- is Denise Ross' website at http://thelightfarm.com/
For developing 4x5 dry plates, I use the Stearman Press SP-445 developing tank with dry plate holder adapters. Their holders for use with the SP-445 tank are available here: https://shop.stearmanpress.com/products/4x5-plate-holders-pair
Mark Osterman and Nick "Team Dry Plate" Brandredth at the George Eastman Museum share my vision of bringing alternative and dry plate processes back into the community conscious. You can read about photography workshops at the museum here: https://www.eastman.org/photography-workshops-1
For all things cool in the world of analog photography: https://emulsive.org/ Thanks, EM!
Shout out to Jill Enfield. They're finally here, Jill! She wrote the book on alternative processes. https://www.jillenfield.com/
Special thanks to Ron Mowrey a.k.a. Photo Engineer who, as a former emulsion engineer, has contributed a wealth of information through the emulsion-making sub-forum at photrio.com. Thanks for letting me pick your brain on emulsion making.
Keep informed with the awesome blog over at https://35mmc.com Thanks for all the support, Hamish!
Props to the Solarcan, a uniquely inspirational product. https://solarcan.co.uk/
Stephen Dowling is doing some great things over at KosmoFoto
Listen in on the Sunny16 podcast. https://sunny16.podbean.com/
Shout out to Mike Padua at https://shootfilmco.com/
One of the other fascinating new companies supplying unique imaging media to the community: https://dubblefilm.com/
Last year, Lomig and I agreed that http://filmwashi.com/en/ will officially remain the world's smallest film company (i.e. producer of analog photographic media in the world), simply because I am taller than he is. Technically though, Lomig, with your new digs you have a larger production space than I do!
Last but not least, if you don't know Bellamy Hunt, aka Japan Camera Hunter and what he does for the community, then you should check out his corner of the world at https://www.japancamerahunter.com/
Risks and challenges
With any new product which has not yet entered production, there is always a risk of delays if modifications need to be made to the design based on evaluation of the prototypes. We actually burned down this risk significantly over the past year by doing just that: Prototyping a design, testing it, and then incorporating the lessons learned from that testing into the next design iteration. However, there is still the risk that we missed something as it enters production that would need to be addressed.
In addition, injection molded components will need to be evaluated to ensure there's no issues specific to the mold process. These types of issues can delay the production run as we talk to the molders to resolve them.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- All gone!