Silver Gelatin Dry Plate Video Workshop

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Large Format Dry Plate Video Workshop by Tim LaytonLarge Format Dry Plate Video Workshop by Tim Layton

Large format silver gelatin dry plate photography dates back to the 1870s when silver halide photographic emulsion was hand-poured onto glass plates by photographers and used as negatives for making contact prints

I created this brand new video workshop so you can learn how to make a simplified silver gelatin emulsion and then coat 4x5 large format glass plates and ultimately expose and develop them to make contact prints with a simple DIY lighting setup.  

I take you through every step in the process in this video workshop just like we were working together in my darkroom.

If you have ever wanted to make your own dry plates from scratch, then this video workshop is for you.   

I have been making silver gelatin emulsions and pouring my glass plate negatives for many years and it is one of the most satisfying and fun things that I can think of.  The level of artistic expression is only limited by your imagination.



  • Welcome & Introduction
  • Safety First
  • Materials & Supplies List Overview
  • Overview of the Dry Plate Process
  • Before You Get Started
  • Selecting a Light Source
  • Your Working Environment


  • Identifying Proper Glass Plate Film Holders For Your Camera
  • How To Cut Glass Properly
  • Preparing Glass Plates Properly To Hold The Emulsion
  • Emulsion Color Spectrum Overview
  • Mixing & Preparing The Negative Emulsion From Scratch 
  • Preparing Your Plate Coating Area & Setup Instructions
  • Drying Your New Glass Plates
  • Storing Dry Plates For Use at a Later Time


  • Testing The ISO of Your New Dry Plates
  • UV Light & How It Impacts Your EI Rating 
  • Exposure Considerations With & Without a Light Meter
  • Dry Plate Developer Options
  • Safe Light Tips For Working With Dry Plates
  • Develop/Stop/Fix Your Exposed Dry Plates


  • Developer & Paper Choices
  • Chemical Printing Process
  • Testing Your Working Area For Light Leaks
  • The Classic Archival Workflow For Silver Gelatin Fine Art Prints
  • Make Your First Contact Print
  • Dodging & Burning 
  • Selenium Toning Your Prints For Improved Contrast & Permanence 
  • Dry Mounting & Final Presentation
  • Conclusion & Next Steps


Large Format Silver Gelatin Dryplate Photography by Tim LaytonLarge Format Silver Gelatin Dryplate Photography by Tim Layton Dry plates were a huge improvement over wet plate collodion in terms of mobility and freedom for photographers.  For the first time in history, photographers could make plates in the darkroom and store them for use at a later date.  With wet plate collodion, photographers were forced to pour, expose, and develop the plates for each exposure.  Silver gelatin dry plates changed history and were the last stepping stone towards film.  

Can you imagine the buzz when photographers had the ability to store their "dry plates" and expose and develop them at a later time versus being required to pour, expose, and develop with wet plate collodion?  

The print to the left of this paragraph is a silver gelatin contact print from an 8x10 dry plate glass negative.  I used Ilford MGIV fiber paper and I made the print using my split-grade method

I used my 100+ year old Kodak 8x10 view camera and its original lens making for a very fun and nostalgic afternoon. 

Between the lens and the dry plate process, I am able to create these very unique fine art botanical prints. 

Large Format Silver Gelatin Dryplate Photography by Tim LaytonLarge Format Silver Gelatin Dryplate Photography by Tim Layton I selenium toned this print for archival permanence while strengthening the blacks and improving the overall contrast and mood of the image.

In the 21st century, you basically have three options if you want to work with dry plates.

You can order some ready-made plates from Jason Lane, pour a commercially available liquid emulsion like AG-Plus or Liquid Light on glass plates, or mix your own emulsion from scratch and pour your own plates which is my personal favorite.  

In my Silver Gelatin Dry Plate Photography Guidebook, I walk you through all of the options listed above and provide step-by-step instructions to help make sure you are successful.  

The commercial liquid emulsions and most of the dry plates from Jason are considered ordinary emulsion which means they are effectively color blind. 

Large Format Silver Gelatin Dryplate Photography by Tim LaytonLarge Format Silver Gelatin Dryplate Photography by Tim Layton This means the plates are sensitive to blues and violets and UV light and color blind to everything else. 

I provide a detailed set of instructions in the Silver Gelatin Dry Plate Photography Guidebook so you can adjust your mind to these unfamiliar tonal renderings.  

In practical terms, the colorblind emulsion means your blues will be very light and everything else will be fairly dark.  Even yellows render much darker than you would expect. Once you get the hang of the color spectrum and how that translates to your images, the fun begins and your creative opportunities are only limited by your imagination. 

You will need to test your actual ISO/EI rating of your plates by running a couple of tests.  I typically start with the assumption of ISO 1 and go from there. 

Since most meters only go down to ISO 3, set your meter to ISO 4 and then open up +2 stops to get your ISO exposure time. 

You can select a variety of developers, however, the easiest is probably Kodak HC-110.  Just mix it to a 1:31 dilution at room temperature and develop your plates under red safelight by inspection. 

Expect a development time between 5 to 8 minutes, depending on how accurate your exposure is. 

Then you can either make prints in the darkroom or scan them, just like large format film.