Inspired by these possibilities I contacted Brian at UV Photographics since he makes SEVEN different excellent formulas. Brian suggested I try 3 other formulas and also asked me to test a new one he’s been working on for the past year and which is yet to be named or go on the market. To make my test more diverse, and just to make my life a little more complicated for the sheer fun of it, I then selected two, new to me, developer formulas from over a dozen easily accessible available ones.
• Lea 7
Anton’s formula (modified classic plain old iron sulfate, acetic acid kind) –
Step 1 - I wanted to see how reactive each developer was with each collodion and what would be my maximum development time with each of the 15 resulting collodion/developer combinations. Collodion will give you brightest highlight if you carry on development to the maximum time possible. Of course, you don’t want to go overboard with development and have overdevelopment fog set in within shadow areas. Figuring that out is actually relatively simple – take a plate, coat with collodion, sensitize, do not expose, pour on developer and let it sit on there for about the time you think is good (say 30sec), tilt the plate and with a squirt bottle wash off developer from the bottom 1/3 portion, let the rest of it develop for another 5 or so seconds, start washing it off from the middle section, let the top part develop for another 5 or so seconds and wash off the rest of it. Ideally after fixing you will see the 30 second be perfectly black, 35sec part may have a tiny bit of fog, 40sec part will have obvious fogging. If that’s the exact case then your maximum development time is somewhere between 30 and 35 seconds. If all sections have fog – repeat the test with less time. If all the sections are black – repeat the test with longer times. I was able to accomplish testing 15 collodion/developer combinations with 20 little plates (mainly because two of the developer formulas I have never used before and had no point of reference as to what development time to test around).
A few more technical details about the above results.
All of the 5 collodion formulas tested were mixed 2 weeks ago. As they age they will probably show a lot more difference in speed and contrast.
I am not going to drone on about which of the above collodion/developer combinations I personally like best or worst – I’d rather let my readers decide on their own which tonality they would like to see in their images. I would also like to caution that all of this is just MY TEST – your results will more likely than not vary slightly, so I highly encourage you to contact Brian at UV Photographics and get yourself some new collodion formulas you haven’t tried. Then, if you want to try other developer formulas, go poke about the web and see what you can find. Most all of the ingredients for various developers can be bought from Photographer’sFormulary or your local chemistry supply shop.