Ken is an amateur photographer, working in semiconductor / high technology sales. He has a business degree, and work in electronic engineering where they 'actually make things', but most of it is theoretical and conceptual. Most of the actual "making" or manufacturing occurs off shore so one does not get to see the final product except at Best Buy about six months after he has finished his involvement.

Ken says:

"With wet plate, it is better than Polaroid. Within three minutes I have an ambrotype that I can evaluate to see if I need to make another. If you remember what it was like when you made your first print, the wow factor of watching it come up in the developer, this is what it is like doing wet plate."

Ken lives in Colorado, where there are three Wet Plate practitioners that he knows of. He has been doing wet plate over four years now.
Ken received assistance from Mark Osterman who was generous sharing information that is difficult to find in typical libraries. Mark's publication on wet plate also helped launch Ken's initial success.
Ken has done further research which has brought out a surprising number and variation of formulas that actually have worked. He has also been trying to understand the basic ratios for formulating Collodion and experimenting with controlling contrast by adjusting development chemistry.

Ken says:

"Since everything is mixed by the photographer, tweaking a formula is not difficult."

Like many who practice this process Ken looks to the pioneers for guidance for his next steps. One of these is Carleton Watkins. This gentleman was making 18 X 22 inch wet plate negatives, in California, before and during the civil war.
To place this in perspective, a guess is that 90% of the images made in the civil war were smaller that 4 X 5. Remember, he had to pour each plate just before taking the image. In 1850 he was in the wilderness doing this. Ken says he would encourage anyone to seek out an original print of his. They are all contact prints on Albumen and if you are shown anything other that an approx. 18 X 22 image, you are not looking at an original.

Ken says:

"So for a few years now I have endeavored to make a 18 X 22 inch camera. Maybe this summer I will finish."



Ken Watson

Wet Plate Collodions

Poudera ©

Winter Carriage ©

Bridger 1 ©

House ©