Dry Plate Ambrotypes & Tintypes

Modern Tintypes/Ambrotypes

Andy Currie                                                                                      April 22, 2012


1. Making a tintype

            – Prepare the metal or glass surface with flat black enamel paint

            – Liquefy the emulsion by immersing the bottle in hot water

            – Under a safe lamp, using a gloved hand, pour some emulsion onto the

plate. It will be the consistency of pancake batter and will set up quickly

when it hits the cool plate, so act fast. Use a fingertip and tilt the plate to

spread the emulsion evenly and smoothly. A light, smooth coat works

best. You may need to

pour twice.

– Place the plate face up and level in a lightproof box and let it harden for a

few hours in a cool place.

– Under a safe lamp, insert the plate into your negative holder.


2. Taking the photo

            – Experimentation is key, but in sunlight assume ISO 3 or 4 for the


– For indoor incandescent or fluorescent lighting, exposure times will be

much longer, as emulsion is blue-sensitive.


3. Processing

– You must use Rockland’s Tintype Developer. Develop the plate for about 5-15 minutes. The developer, once mixed will weaken with age and after about 2 or 3 weeks will be useless, so hold off on mixing until you are ready to shoot a string of photos.

– After developing, fix in regular Kodak Kodafix diluted 1:7 with water.

– Wash in cold water for 10 minutes.

– Place the plate in a near-vertical position to dry. A dish rack works for this.




– Plates can be reused by scrubbing emulsion off with hot water and a soft brush.

– Plates can be ruined by heat and moisture. After fixing, make sure they dry in a cool place. Be very careful in the hot summer and especially in a hot, sun-baked car.

– For a safelight, red LED lights are okay. I use a bicycle tail light bounced off the white wall.


Materials can be bought direct from Rockland Colloid: http://rockaloid.com/products.html#tintype


Visit my website: http://ajcphotos.com/