Frequently Asked Questions
Dry Plate’ is a glass plate coated with gelatine-based suspension of photosensitive silver dried before being taken out into the field. The plate is loaded into a plate holder in the dark and exposed in camera. A latent image is formed and the plate is then chemically developed just like any modern film. They were invented way back in 1871 as a way more practical substitute to wet plates. But with the arrival of modern cellulose based films and development in emulsion speed they unfortunately faded out of common use by late 1920s.
I have been shooting with them for years and just fell in love with the process. Dry Plate photography is an immensely rewarding and enjoyable way to make a photograph. It can feel overwhelming when you’re just starting out, but once you're familiar with the process, it will feel like second nature in no time. There’s something special in the way it slows you down and makes you pay attention to every detail. Not to mention the satisfaction you get when you see the image appearing on glass in-front of your eyes!
Technically speaking the main advantage of Dry Plates is in their fine grain emulsion which by far exceeds the resolution of any commercially available film.
First and foremost it's a craft where everything is done by hand just like over 100 years ago! It all begins with cutting the glass to stock or custom size. Glass plates are then individually inspected for any scratches or chips. To make handling safer and emulsion adhesion better all edges are hand grinded. Plates are then thoroughly washed to get rid of all the dirt from cutting and handling. After washing the plates are dried, emulsion is heated and liquified, lights go off, red lights on and the coating can begin. Each plate is coated by hand with no machinery! After coating, plates harden on a cold marble slab and dry overnight.
No, since they are coated with colourblind emulsion you can handle the plates without fogging under red safelights just like photographic paper. We are constantly running fog tests in our workshop and there is no signs of foggin even after 1h of exposure so relax you can load and develop the plates without any rush. Of course it all depends on the type and power of your safelight so if in doubt run a fog test yourself.
Even though you won't find a notch on the Zebra plate, figuring out which is the Emulsion side is very easy even if you are using a changing bag. Once you break the seal on a heavy duty dark bag and reach in you should be able to pull individual plates out with ease. Each plate is wrapped emulsion side down in the protective acid free paper so once you unfold it just grab it by the edges turn it around and voila you are looking at the emulsion side. If you manage to flip the plate around to the point where you don't know which side is which anymore just direct it towards the safelight and determine which side is less reflective. Less reflective side is the one coated with emulsion.
How to get glass plates intacted on the other side of the world was one of our first goals when we started the Zebra brand. We developed our own system of packing and after thousands of plates shipped none have arrived broken, chipped or damaged in any other way!
In case you would be the first one that receives damaged plates contact us asap and we will replace them with new ones 😉
Zebra Dry Plates come in various stock sizes from 4x5in to whole plates and can be purchased in our SHOP. Since there are numerous camera options out there using more or less standard formats we can also make custom sized plates without additional cost. From tiny, square or panoramic…you name it just send us the desired measurements and quantity on email@example.com.
They were primarily designed to be used with Dry Plates and because of the nature of loading and unloading which is similar to film holders we do not recommend them for Wetplates!
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We ship Zebra products worldwide and try to keep shipping as affordable and fast as possible no matter where you are in the world!
When we ship your order we will send you an automated confirmation email with a tracking code which can be tracked here. We ship with DHL and Slovenian National Post and all orders have tracking.
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* Please note due to ongoing delays and backlogs caused by COVID shipping to some countries may take longer than usual.
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