A unique photo medium straight from the past, film predecessor, creating very smooth realistic pictures.
About this project
What We Want to Make
One more time we want to introduce you to a photo medium straight from the past. If you know the history of photography, you know that before film, dry photographic glass plates were the primary photo medium. You probably saw those pictures that were printed in the turn of the XIX century – with the magic effect of closeness and very natural feel even on simple objects.
So we, Galaxy Photography, the devotees of analog photography paraphernalia as we are, would like to have them in our collection as well. And since they are not commercially available, we decided to produce them ourselves through Kickstarter with your help.
Also: You’ll need to use Dry Plates Holders – check out our current Kickstarter campaign for Dry Plates Holders for large format cameras! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/114183
A Unique Medium
What is so unique about the dry photographic plates?
Large format ensures a very wide tonal range of prints and fantastic resolution. The images taken from glass plate negative demonstrate a very smooth transition from shadows to lights and the highlights because the glass helps diffuse the light, providing the whole tonal shift. This creates a certain depth, and the image looks very realistic, smooth, clear, almost three-dimensional.
Second, we are making orthochromatic plates, meaning that they are not sensitive to red light. This characteristic makes the plates perfect for portraits because the emulsion allows concealing the blemishes on the faces, making the skin in the pictures smooth and even. In addition, these plates can be processed in the dark red light. This is a big advantage for plates as they need to be carefully loaded in the holders, and some kind of light is a great aid in that.
Also, glass has the quality of unsurpassed transparency, and therefore, reflects the details on paper much better, yielding crispy clear images.
Glass plates are more dimensionally stable, and the image will keep the proportion intact and reflect the object of the photo shoot the way it is. Unlike film, the glass won’t bend or distort, and the images will stay flawless.
And lastly, with plates, it is much easier to contact print onto photo papers as the weight of the glass presses the paper and the image is distributed evenly on the surface of the paper.
Costs and expenses.
WE ARE ABSOLUTELY STUNNED BY THE RESULTS OUR TEST GLASSES WERE ABLE TO PRODUCE. IT IS UNMATCHED EMULSION AND FANTASTIC MEDIUM! WE WANT EVERY PROFESSIONAL OR PHOTOGRAPHY LOVER TO BE ABLE TO TRY, EXPLORE AND ENJOY IT!
However, at this moment we are forced to set pledges costs way higher than we want due to several reasons:
First. The materials for glass production are quite expensive. Particularly the glass itself. We can’t use the regular windows glass from a local home improvement store. Although usual glass looks flat enough, only lab-grade glass meets photographic standards – flatness, thickness, etc. Of course, this type of glass costs more.
Second. Only few production facilities in the world can coat glass with required size, precision and quality. And they charge top dollar for outside orders.
Third. The volume of production significantly contributes to added expenses. Only orders for hundreds of thousands of dollars can bring the price down. We can’t project such support at the start, and therefore, we are forced to accept higher prices from facilities.
Forth. R&D for the recreation of materials from XIXth and XXth centuries materials is not an easy task. In fact, it’s a very costly task. Very few people in the world can be called real professionals in a very specific type of emulsion-making and photographic glass coating and we had to hire unique specialists to ensure the success of the project.
To bring the costs down at least by 30%
WE NEED TO BUILD OUR OWN GLASS-COATING FACILITY!
To make it possible, we need to raise at least $300,000 in this campaign. From different previous photographic campaigns, we know that it’s a realistic figure, and we just need your help to achieve it!
Please consider this as our stretch goal – if we can reach this number, we will be able to bring down our future glass costs and will give you proportional to your pledge discount from your future glass purchases. And of course, everyone who can help us on this way naturally will get additional perks and unique rewards.
As you can imagine, the glass itself is very heavy, especially the large formats in large quantities. Even local shipping can be expensive.
For all your shipping-related concerns, please contact us here or through our website.
Some pledges are not listed at this time due to the fact that shipping cost may vary significantly. If you like to make a pledge which is specified in our Guide but currently is not listed among pledges, please contact us and we will accommodate your needs.
US & Canada.
The prices for delivery that we have listed now are based on USPS and Fedex Ground delivery (whichever is cheaper). Some of the pledges are not qualified for regular ground shipping due to the heavy weight but only for Freight shipments. We were able to preliminary negotiate a little bit better rates with West Coast and East Coast local courier companies but only if we can provide certain volume. If this, in fact, will be the case, all supporters will get credit with Galaxy for the applicable amount.
We work hard to start as soon as possible our European Distribution Center in the Czech Republic which should significantly bring down delivery prices in Europe. We expect this to happen in next few short months, but we don’t know exactly the amount which we’ll be able to shave off the cost of deliveries. We promise that we calculate savings individually and apply towards the every supporters’ credit with Galaxy for the applicable amount.
During last few weeks we had several requests from distributors in several countries in Asia. Some of them really give us hope that our first LTC shipment to Asia will be on its way soon, and this will establish our regular trading and delivery root. Of course, this will generate savings in shipping cost, and all savings will be applied to every supporters’ credit with Galaxy for the applicable amount.
We had some talks with distributors in Australia. If we are able to send at least a pallet by sea, this can open a window for savings for local supporters too. All savings will be applied to every supporters’ credit with Galaxy for the applicable amount.
Rest of the World.
We are constantly looking for the way to deliver our products to all countries around the world as cheap and quick as possible. Please ask about your country if you have a specific question.
To Take A Picture
The specs of the plates we are going to make:
- ISO 200
- Color: Black & White
- Sizes: 4×5, 5×7, 8×10, 11×14 (special pledge), 16×20 (special pledge)
- Number of plates in pack: 10
- Photo type: Negative
Before going over the process, we want the seasoned professionals to pardon us for such a detailed explanation.
To use the dry plates with your camera, you need to have special holders, which we also developed and would like to introduce as a separate project. We have made them specifically for our dry plates, so we guarantee a perfect fit. The holders are adjustable, meaning you will be able to use them with film as well! And the durable materials ensure the lack of light leakage.
Check out our current Kickstarter campaign for Dry Plates Holders for large format cameras! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/114183
The process of taking pictures with glass plates is as mesmerizing as a century ago. It consists of the following steps:
1. Place a dry plate contained in a plate holder into a slot in the camera.
2. Slide the cover from the plate holder to uncover the dry plate.
3. Set the exposure and take a picture.
4. Slide the cover on the plate holder back over the dry plate.
5. Remove the plate holder containing the exposed plate which was now ready for processing in a dark room.
Processing and Handling
To develop plates you will need to use a tray or a special tank, and if you have a special old frame for holding the glass, that will make the whole process easy.
But the whole process will be much more convenient with SP-445 Film System developed by Timothy Gilbert. Originally made for use with film, but now the fundraising campaign for 4×5” glass dry plate in-system holder is going on Kickstarter. To get more details, follow this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1653453089/sp-445-photographic-system-4×5-glass-dry-plate-hol? Thanks to this processing system you will be able to develop our dry plates safely and easily.
The best way to work with glass plates is contact printing. First, you need to develop the glass just like film. We will be manufacturing our proprietary developing chemistry kit for photo plates, but any commercial developer will work as well.
After you develop the glass plate, it will show the negative image of the composition that you shot. Now it’s ready for contact printing. All you need to do is lay the paper against the plate and expose it to light. After that, you will need to develop the paper.
Please, keep in mind that glass may be fragile if handled carelessly. The emulsion can be scratched off the glass surface easier than from a film, and for this reason, the developed plates should be kept in the envelopes packed individually or in special drawers.
Together with this campaign we are launching a campaign on glass plate holders that will allow you easily load the plates in your camera. You can get more details on this campaign if you follow this link:
Before the dry plates, photographers used wet plates for collodion process that became the medium for iconic photographs of the American Civil War. One major disadvantage of the plates was the fact that they had to be developed right on the spot, and the photographers were required to travel with a complete darkroom that was assembled for every exposure. The photographers of that time dreamed about the emulsion that was stable enough to be made ahead of time and keep long enough to get out on location for exposure and back to the darkroom.
In 1871 the solution to this problem was found by a doctor who was also a photography enthusiast. Richard Leach Maddox discovered that gelatin allowed making dry plates with highly increased sensitivity. He decided not to patent his invention, but rather share it with the growing photo community. The word got around at viral speed and soon the photographers, both professional and amateur, were experimenting with the new emulsion recipe. Now dry plates were stable, with higher light sensitivity and could be stored for a long term.
In 1877, a 24-year old George Eastman started experimenting with gelatin dry plates recipe in his mother’s kitchen. By the next year he had not only perfected his technique, but invented and patented a machine for mass production of dry plates. With the demand for the dry plates soaring he left his old job as a bank clerk to open Eastman Dry-Plate Company, which is known today as Kodak Company.
Our stretch goal is adding film of the same sizes as the plates and the same emulsion. They will be more affordable than plates and yield similar results – good for test shoots. They will require, however, a bit more efforts to work with, yet with a little experience there shouldn’t be any problems.
Who We Are
For those who don’t know about us: the main aim of our company is to preserve classic analog photography and its paraphernalia through various projects. We have successfully finished our first project last year and brought back to life direct positive photo paper for reversal project that was manufactured by Kodak about 70 years ago. Our second project was recreating photographer’s notebook that was among some of the most popular products for photographers in the last century. Another project is Galaxy Hyper Speed 120, a photo paper in the form of the film allowing you to shoot directly on paper and develop pictures on the spot. As you can see, our projects have a very wide span and we do not plan to stop on that.
Risks and challenges
Even though we are taking various precautions and adding more time to solve any possible issues, there still might be some situations that are out of our control.
1) Coordinating manufacturers. Several manufacturers will help us bring this project to life, and coordinating their activity might be challenging. There might be disruptions in either manufacturer’s process, which might result in delays. In addition, if some of the manufacturers provide faulty product for some reason, we will have to either reorder the batch or look for another manufacturer, which might be time-consuming. To prevent this, we try to work only with the manufacturers we already know and order samples beforehand to check the quality of the products.
2) Delays in shipping. This project is not our only business activity, and therefore, we might get distracted from shipment by other urgent tasks. Of course, we will clear our schedule for shipment as much as we can, but we have to leave some room for unpredictable events.
3) Juggling projects. We currently have another project launched at the same time, and we might get distracted by the issues connected with this project.
4) Force Majeure. During the past year we have experienced blackouts, floods in our office, earthquakes and foreign holidays that postponed our plans for about a month. Now we vigorously study national holidays in the countries of our manufacturers, looking for the office in a less flood-prone neighborhood and shopping for power generators.