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The Wet Collodion Process—A Scientific Approach

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The wet collodion process was the first successful photographic negative process. The tone and detail reproduction of both negatives and prints are remarkably good. There are a lot of collodion plates still in existence, but detailed knowledge of how the excellent image quality was achieved has been lost. The Institute of Applied Photophysics in Dresden, Germany, harbors the photographic work of the German pioneer Hermann Krone (1827–1916). He became prominent after using the wet collodion method for landscape photography in 1853. It is extremely difficult to make satisfactory reproductions from those historic negatives on contemporary photographic materials or to digitize the old pictures. The aim of the present work is to gain knowledge of how to reproduce satisfactorily the tone and detail of wet collodion negatives and prints on modern materials. To gain more knowledge of the process, wet collodion layers were poured and then investigated using tools of modern imaging science. Sensitometric curves and relative spectral sensitivities were investigated for a range of emulsions with varying iodide–bromide ratios. Granularity noise and resolution were measured by means of a high-resolution CCD microdensitometer.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1998

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  • The Journal of Imaging Science and Technology (JIST) is dedicated to the advancement of imaging science knowledge, the practical applications of such knowledge, and how imaging science relates to other fields of study. The pages of this journal are open to reports of new theoretical or experimental results, and to comprehensive reviews. Only original manuscripts that have not been previously published, nor currently submitted for publication elsewhere, should be submitted.

    IS&T's JIST-first publication option allows authors wishing to present their work at conferences, but have a journal citation for their paper, to submit a paper to JIST that follows the same rigorous peer-review vetting and publication process as traditional JIST articles, but with the benefit of a condensed time-to-publication time frame and guaranteed conference presentation slot.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in perpetuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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