News and Information from
Camp Tintype

Contents and What's New

   2017 Jamboree - Aug 4, 5 & 6  <<< 2017 dates are announced and John's round-up of the 2016 Jam
   Introducing a NEW Workshop: "Black Japan Day"  <<< One day only! See info below.
   Presenting: "The Uncommon Common and the Uncommon Uncommon" Tintype Workshop  <<< Huh?!?
   2017 "All-around" Workshop Information  <<< Classes are filling fast. (One class is already full.)
   2017 "Just Tintypes" Workshop Information  <<< Register soon before all seats are gone.
   Portraiture At Camp Tintype again in 2017  <<< AMAZING OPPORTUNITY!! You must read this!
   Videographer Wanted  <<< A unique opportunity. See below for details.
   2016 Workshop Class Tintypes and Student Photos continue to arrive.
   More of John's artwork is now offered for purchase  <<< Do not delay on these rare pieces.
   Announcing a Free CFL Light Bank Primer  <<< To anyone enrolled in any workshop or tutorial.
   Own a rare piece of Photographic History  <<< The world's first Mammoth Plate tintype is for sale.
   Tintype Gallery Updates  <<< Portraiture at Camp Tintype samples added
   Horse Hairs in My Soup - eBook series by John Coffer  <<< A preview of Chapter 12 is now posted.
   Brief Overview of the Wet-Plate Process  <<< Scan of a letterpress handout
   Manuals and DVDs Now Available  <<< ** See note regarding hand-written version of Doers Guide **
   Wet-Plate Collodion Follow-Up Kit
   Contact Information
   Biographical & Camp Tintype Information  <<< Including 13 reasons why Camp Tintype is unmatched!

John & Brownie

John Coffer and his old traveling horse, Brownie, at Camp Tintype.

Albumen print from a wet-plate collodion negative.  ©2001 by John Coffer.


    Videographer Wanted

To document the many unique and various goings on at Camp Tintype. Committed to off-the-grid, timeless, historic, traditional and innovative self-reliant living. Write for more info and to introduce yourself. There clearly is much potential in this. See the various videos of acclaim done on me in little bits and pieces on the web already.

    Portraiture at Camp Tintype continues in 2017

Due to the overwhelming response and unprecidented demand for true 19th century authentic wet-plate collodion photography, we are offering our totally unique portrait weekends again, but with thrice as many as ever before. Don't miss this "found nowhere else" opportunity while it should last! This service will continue to be offered by John at Camp Tintype in 2017. For a detailed description and pricing, click here for the info.

    Some of John's rare artwork is now for sale to the general public:

    FREE! CFL Light Bank Primer

This is an exclusive to be found only at Camp Tintype. Come the evening before the workshop or tutorial you are enrolled in and see a wet-plate demo using simple, affordable, electric Compact Florescent studio lighting. This is the easiest and most consistent method for lighting that many are using today. We like to cover all the bases here at ol’ Camp Tintype!

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2017 "All-Around" Workshop Information

NOTE: These regular, all-around workshops fill quickly. Often over a year in advance. Do not delay in registering for one of these popular classes. You will not be disappointed.

    The Fun Begins long before workshop time with a “Camp Tintype” Workshop
It is our policy to send the celebrated Doers Guide to Wet-plate Photography manual with 3 ½ hour wet-plate instructional DVD set to each student soon after they sign up and send in their deposit. They can study this and get a great leg up on the process long before they arrive. Many are actually shooting and gathering their own equipment and chemicals months before setting foot on Camp Tintype. But, wait there’s more! Some even gather up another really fun thing and that is “Hobo Tin”, as we like to call it. Because we get into black japanning our own plates in the workshops, we can black japan a variety of materials. That can easily be thin sheet steel or aluminum salvaged from metal cans such as cookie tins, popcorn cans, gun powder cans, etc., or even your favorite beer or soda pop cans. With this you can make tintypes with a wet-plate image on one side and the artwork and logo that is on the can on the back side. This will send your work over the top from being just a wet-plate image to being a genuine Americana Folk art piece. Only at Camp Tintype can you do such fun stuff with wet-plate!

Hobo Tin - front

Hobo Tin - back

******************   Now in our 22nd year of teaching wet-plate workshops!   ******************

Featuring three solid days of hands-on training in the making of:

2017 Regular All-Around Workshop Dates:
June 22, 23, 24
FULL! July 20, 21, 22 FULL!
August 24, 25, 26

$950.00 per student...No lab fees!
A $250.00 deposit is required to secure enrollment.

Policy on Deposits for the Workshops:

The usual $250 deposit is required to hold a workshop spot for a student. It is refundable only if I can fill that spot with another student before workshop time. Absolutely no exceptions. Also, full payment of the rest of the tuition fee must be made 30 days or sooner before the workshop scheduled date by check, money order, or cash, just like the deposit. And also, just like the deposit, it is not refundable unless the workshop spot can be filled before workshop time. I regret this hardcore approach to the business side of the workshops, but after a couple of student no-shows, a no-show demanding his deposit back, and a rubber check in '09, I have no choice. You can only write so much off to the cost of doing business and I'm not the kind to drag people to small claims court or haggle over the filthy lucre.    -JC


If you send in your $250 deposit before April 1, 2017, you will
receive a 10% discount on any workshops offered in 2017.

Full price after that.

Includes a comprehensive manual with instructional DVD set.
All materials and equipment provided.

Each student will receive "The Doers Guide", a complete, 165 page, fully illustrated workshop manual covering the entire wet-plate process, including the making of albumen photographs. Manuals can be purchased separately for $75.00 ppd. USA, refundable toward workshop tuition, and includes DVDs (4 hours total). The DVD set is available separately for $45.00 ppd. Contact John Coffer by regular mail for details.

Don't delay - class size is limited to only 4 students

For details and registration, write:
DUNDEE, NY 14837-9443

NOTE: Private tutoring is also available for $550 per day as to your schedule and individual needs. I have more than 34 years experience as a professional wet-plate collodion portrait photographer and am well prepared to teach you the correct time honored methods that work consistently and the best.    -JC

EXTRA! EXTRA! Free Play Day!

For those taking the above beginner/intermediate wet-plate collodion in-the-field workshops, you are invited to stay at no extra charge an extra day! You may shoot wet-plates with our gear and supplies to your heart's content. We have found over the years that after the third day of the workshop, all the students have the routine down pat and are chomping at the bit to keep right on shooting fun images around the farm. You may even shoot plates as large as 8x10 (limited in number) if you like.

Also, remember that students are encouraged and welcome to check in the day before the workshop officially begins to settle in if they are camping, but also to look over the wet-plate gear we will be using, or have us look over any potential wet-plate gear they care to bring along for evaluation or would like to try to shoot with. Further, be it known that workshop days are very full at Camp Tintype. When the sun shines we make wet-plate hay, and after supper we usually varnish plates and mix some chemistry into the night. In short, if you are seeking as much wet-plate bang for your buck as you can get, look no further than Camp Tintype!

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2017 "Just Tintypes" Workshops

NOTE: 2017 dates are now available! See below.
Be aware that these workshops often fill up well over a year in advance, so don't delay to register.

    The popular "Just Tintypes" workshops are a continuing favorite
If wet-plate tintypes are what grabs you the most, this is the workshop for you. If you are an experienced wet-plate photographer but want to specialize in tintypes, this workshop will put you on the right path. If you are a total beginner but don't see yourself doing anything but tintypes for the foreseeable future, there is no better way to start off with learning wet-plate than with making tintypes.

    THE MAMMOTH PLATE OPTION is back in 2017 for "Just Tintypes" workshop students only!
Yes, it’s true! Take any of the 2017 "Just Tintypes" workshops or tutorials and get a chance at shooting a 20”x 24” MAMMOTH! I have found that after the third day of my tintype workshops that a significant number of my students are ready and able to take on a Mammoth. All that you will have to provide extra is a $400 lab fee. This will allow you to shoot two 20”x 24” plates. So, how do you know you are ready? If you can shoot a decent 8x10, you can do this. Personally, I have been shooting 20”x 24” wet-plate collodion Mammoths since 2002. The first ever Mammoth Ferrotype Tintypes were shot here. Since then my Mammoths remain unchallenged and have been exhibited by prestigious galleries from coast to coast. So, you couldn’t have a more experienced Mammoth plate teacher. We will work together in and out of my new walk in darkroom booth to ensure you will perform all the steps properly. For this first Mammoth Plate experience, we will be using the extremely easy and convenient Black Trophy plaque aluminum plates (AKA aluminotype or alumitype). With these ultra easy beginner plates it becomes mere child’s play, except for using lots and lots chemicals! It’s a great way to top off an unforgettable Camp Tintype workshop experience. No other workshop in the world could or would dare to offer this incredible opportunity!   -JC

Note: You are responsible for the packing and transport of your Mammoths. I will not pack them and ship them for you. I suggest that you send a suitable box and packing materials ahead of your arrival if you plan to do this exciting option.


    The Pretty Big Plate Option
If Mammoths seem just too big a leap or you would like a stepping stone up to them you’ll love this option. For only an extra $150 lab fee you can shoot two 11x14 Aluminotype Tintypes. 8x10’s are an option for any student who cares to try that pretty dang big plate size at no extra charge.

    "Just Tintypes" workshops dates for 2017

2017 Just Tintypes Workshop Dates:
June 8, 9, 10
July 6, 7, 8

Tuition for 2017:
$900.00 per student...No lab fees!
A $250.00 deposit is required to secure enrollment.

    This class is sure to be productive and exciting!
We will be shooting both authentic Ferrotype tintypes, as well as the popular peel and pour, non-authentic (but great for practice) aluminotype tintypes, in sizes up to 8" x 10". Everyone will get a chance to black japan their own plates by the original baked on asphaltum paint method. Hand coloring will be practiced on plates of your choice for spectacular image results. Stereo tintypes and round badge tintypes will also be a couple fun options. Without a doubt more plates will be shot in this workshop than any other!

    FAQ - Can I make a couple of ambrotypes in the "Just Tintypes" workshop?
Glad you asked! Sure, you can. Lots of students have and you can, too. And at NO extra charge! After you get the hang of making Tintypes, it's just a matter of a few minutes of further instruction on how to prepare a glass plate. Then you'll be good to go to pour an ambrotype.

    Class size is limited, so register soon.

To sign up for this unique class, write to:

John A. Coffer
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Black Japan Day Workshop

    Introducing a unique, new workshop for 2017!

BLACK JAPAN DAY will free the experienced wet-plate maker of tintypes from trophy aluminum plate bondage! Be a part of the revolution (or perhaps the counter revolution) to bring back the real deal iron plate black japanned Ferrotype Tintype, whose history and tradition stretches back over a hundred and sixty years. Make the great American Tintype great again!

In this one day plus workshop you will learn to produce authentic, warm tone, deep black, japanned finish Ferrotype plates, equal to any produced in the 19th century. You will also be introduced to 21st century artistic twists and turns only possible with the ability to properly japan your own tin. You’ll be surprised to learn how easy, and even cheaper in the long run, black japanning tin (an asphaltum based paint coating baked on thin mild steel) can be. Also, you’ll see for yourself how unobtrusive the procedure is when done the Coffer way. If you can grill burgers in your back yard without annoying the neighbors, you can black japan there too. Black japanning your own plates will open far more doors of creativity and add that much more hand made uniqueness and value to your tintypes. Now that’s truly exciting, and yes, liberating!

But no, they aren’t as easy and convenient as just buying pre-cut to size, beginner’s choice, only in it for the scan, simple simon, “peal and pour” trophy aluminum plates that are now available from a multitude of sources. But, since when did enduring excellence, individuality, greatness, and photography as art object, follow the wide, effortless, digitized, and thoroughly trod paths of this world? To make your work real and a cut above the rest, be sure to sign up for this wet-plate-life altering experience today!

    This class is sure to fill quickly.

      Cost: $385.    Date: June 3, 2017.    Six student limit.

Each student will make at least four Ferrotype plates to shoot real deal tintypes with when they get home, or bring your own wet-plate in the field kit and shoot them here, if you like. You are welcome to camp FREE the Friday night before and talk wet-plate with me and your fellow students into the night. Class will start 9:00 am Saturday and run till 6:00 pm. Bring your own lunch. All are welcome to camp over Saturday night and make a leisurely departure Sunday for a safe trip home.

To sign up for this unique class, write to:

John A. Coffer
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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The Uncommon Common and Uncommon Uncommon Tintype Workshop

    Presenting: The Uncommon Common and Uncommon Uncommon Tintype Workshop.
This is the second in a series of “uncommons” where we teach, and students do, historic photography as it was really done, plus more. Read on for the full details.

In this one we’ll be making authentic Ferrotype Tintypes in their most common 19th century presentation, and also the most obscure Tintype of the 19th century. By far the most common Tintype of the first wet-plate era was the palm-of-your-hand size Carte de Visite {CDV} card mounted small plate Tintype. They went by names such as: Bon Tons, Gems, and Lettertypes. All could easily be slipped into an envelope and mailed safely. Billions were made using the newly invented “multiplying camera,” just like ours, capable of shooting multiple images on a single plate which was then cut apart yielding a small stack of plates that were then mounted in embossed or printed paper mounts of the 2½ x 4 CDV size. The portraits almost always had some degree of hand coloring on them as well. You’ll get the skinny on that and be able to do some hand coloring on the plates you shoot.

Before the invention of the multiplying camera, tintypes were shot one at a time and in small sizes for fitting into the common cases of the day like ambrotypes and daguerreotypes were. You can do likewise at this workshop, if you like, with the free, original 1850-60’s case you will receive with the class. The other often used option in the cased tintype era was to simply frame the small tintype with a metal ornate case mat, also easily put in an envelope and sent to loved ones. You will get a chance to press out metal mats using dies made from an original civil war era mat to frame any tintypes you make in the class. How the dies are made will be explained. It is a fact that wet-plate collodion made tintypes were virtually never sold just as a bare plate. They were always sold matted and framed in some capacity.

    Now here’s where you will be able to play in the ink!
You will set antique lead type and print your own personalized backslaps in our fully equipped letterpress print shop. A backslap is a light piece of paper which often had the Ferrotypist’s name, location, etc. printed on it and was pasted on the back of the tintype and paper mat to hold the plate in place. You can look long and hard and you’ll never find another wet-plate workshop that will get you so fully immersed and in touch with photographic history on so many levels. Only at Camp Tintype!

    But that’s not all folks.
Students will also be given the opportunity to shoot the most uncommon of the uncommon tintypes of the 19th century - the stereo tintype. Billions of paper photograph stereoviews were made, but only a tiny scant few were stereo tintypes. The handfull of them that were done were generally shot on a lark as there was no profit incentive to them. Sounds like art to me! You’ll have the opportunity to shoot with our repro 5x8 stereo camera with matched 1860’s stereo Petzval lens pair on it or the stereo Brownie camera set up. The plates will be correctly mounted for viewing in our stereo opticon viewer or yours (there’s a zillion of them on e-bay) to the amazement of all your friends and family.

    This workshop is designed for the experienced wet-plate photographer...
...who is interested in expanding his or her horizons far beyond the now mundane modern hipster aluminum peal and pour tintypes that the thundering herd is doing by the bushel baskets full nowadays. Because of its unique nature and extra effort and diligence, few if any will take this workshop. You may be the only one in it! At any rate, class size is limited to a ridiculously small number of only three.

    This unique workshop will be held on August 10, 11, 12 and 13, 2017
This is the ONLY time this year that this workshop will be held!

    It isn’t cheap at $1,200 per student with the usual $250 deposit out of that to nail your spot.

But the experience and skills and knowledge you will go away with are indeed priceless and cannot be had anywhere, and I mean anywhere, else!

To sign up for this unique class, write to:

John A. Coffer
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Manuals and DVDs Now Available

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This manual has cost me way more money than it's made. Why? Because it’s so utterly thorough and complete. And especially so, with its three and a half hour instructional DVD set included with it! Many a would-be wet-plate photographer has bought it, taught themselves the process, then gone onto making award-winning wet-plate images without ever setting foot in my workshops or anyone else's, for that matter. That said, do keep in mind that a workshop experience at "Camp Tintype" is something beyond just a workshop. It is a life changing experience.   -JC

    The Doers Guide to Wet-Plate Collodion Photography, plus complete DVD Set
The Doers Guide to Wet-Plate Collodion Photography manual, with the complete DVD set, is now available for $85.00 ppd. (Canada cost is $100.00 ppd. and overseas cost is $125.00 ppd.) $75.00 if bought at "Camp Tintytpe"

The Doers Guide and Complete Wet-Plate Instructional DVD Set cover all aspects of wet-plate photography, including chemical mixing, managing, and maintaining.

    You have a choice between a hand-written (xeroxed, of course) or computer-typeset manual (Please specify)

** NOTE FROM JOHN: The hand-written version of the Doers Guide will get a major re-write and update later this Fall and Winter and is no longer available until then. The typeset version will continue to be available.   -JC

Manual by hand             Manual by computer

    Please note the following payment information

To order any of the above material, write to:

John A. Coffer
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Your Wet-Plate Collodion Follow-Up Kit

    Finally, a reliable kit for the beginning wet-plate workshop student
You are now able to take this home for an uninterrupted flow of wet-plate fun!

    For only $400.00, this kit includes the following:


NOTE: The kit absolutely does NOT contain an alcohol burner spirit lamp, otherwise known as the "Molotov Cocktail of wet-plate photography." (Read my Myth Busters article to get details as to why it's gotten that tag.)

    This kit is only available to workshop & tutorial students at "Camp Tintype"
No other workshop or tutorial anywhere offers this extra service. Yet another reason why "Camp Tintype" workshops are the Best!

    Black acrylic silver baths also available
We will be selling sturdy, well-made, black acrylic 5x7 silver baths for only $65.00 to workshop students ... only this year!

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Jamboree 2017 - August 4, 5 and 6

     JAMBOREE 2017: Mark your calendars, pards

August 4, 5 and 6, 2017 for the 16th annual international wet-plate collodion photography Jamboree! Wet-platers from everywhere are, as always, invited.

Last year's Jam was the usual great time for all. Special Thanks! to Mike Jacobson of Artcraft Chemicals whose support has always been vital to our event. Also, to Chemenix Cameras for their donations to the raffle over the years. Wayne Aho won one of their 5x7 spring back camera wet-plate holders after trying to win anything over the years with stacks of raffle tickets bought. Mike Steinle bought his usual one ticket and got the coveted "Elvis Presley by his Viva Las Vegas Pink ‘56 Caddy" wall-mount temperature gauge. Some people have all the luck! We skipped the tee shirt thing and instead I made canning jar lid wet-plate photo-buttons of our patron saint of the year, Thomas Edison, who was there. Unlike the shirts at previous Jams, it was a sell out. Good riddance to tee shirts.

Next year’s saint will be Prof. John Towler who wrote the vital to the collodion revival, 1864 photography manual, The Silver Sunbeam. Get ready for a nice rosed cheek photo tintype button of him for your wearing pleasure. Fun fact: Towler was a long time Professor at Hobart College which is only thirty miles north of CampTintype. His spirit still walks the hills here abouts. They are extra frigid and snow crusted at the moment.

Here’s looking forward to a great 2017 wet-plate year for all and see you at the Jam!

     2016 Jamboree photos still coming in

Enjoy the photos that are rolling in. Jamboreers, if you have any photos or scans of your plates that you would like to see on John's website, please email them to the Webmaster.

For more information and authorization to attend the 2016 Jamboree, please write:

John A. Coffer
"Camp Tintype"
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Contact Information

E-mail address:

Click here to email John
Please note that since John does not have Internet access at Camp Tintype, all email sent here will be printed and mailed to John once every couple of weeks. To receive a reply from John as soon as possible, please include your mailing address in the email. It will be faster to write him a letter at…

Mailing address:

John A. Coffer
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Biographical & Camp Tintype Information

"Camp Tintype" is the best known and longest running learning center for wet-plate collodion photography in the world. It is the creation of its founder, John Coffer. Its humble beginnings started in 1978, when John hitched a bay workhorse named "Brownie" up to a 19th century style darkroom wagon dubbed the "Photographic Van" and criss-crossed the continent for seven years, plying his trade as an old time traveling portrait photographer. This was an experience as unique as the many tintypes and prints from glassplate negatives he made and sold along the way.

Having started out using commercially available, at the time, dry plate tintypes and glass negatives to make his living, he eventually was able to glean enough information from historic archives and gather up the necessary chemicals from different sources, that by 1982, he was able to do the much more desirable wet-plate collodion process. That spring, he immediately began making wet-plate collodion Tintypes (the real Ferrotype kind), ambrotypes, and glass plate negatives for his patrons, as he camped on field and farm and small town back lots along his way.

In 1985, after more than 11,000 wagon miles and having passed through 36 different states, John and his horse "Brownie" settled down on their own 50 acre farm in the heart of the beautiful "Finger Lakes" country of up-state New York.

Tintype of John Coffer by Tom DeLooza, 2005

He began offering his, now famous, three day wet-plate collodion photography in the field workshops in the summer of 1996. Since then, to keep up with the demand, he has had to schedule steadily more workshops each year and is, also, increasingly busy with private one-an-one tutorials.

"Brownie" went on to graze in the big pasture in the sky at the ripe old age of 34.

Here are thirteen reasons why "Camp Tintype" workshops are the best wet-plate collodion experience to be had anywhere:

1.    Highest student teacher ratio.
The class is limited to only four students and will be taught regardless as to any fewer than that should arrive.

2.    Students make a lot of Pictures.
Typically, a workshop student goes home with ten to a dozen or more plates. Each student will be making Tintypes, ambrotypes, glass negative, and albumen prints.

3.    Ideal span of Time.
Three days has proven to be just right for this immersion experience.

4.    The Price is Right.
Shop around and you'll see that "Camp Tintype" workshop and tutorial prices are very competitive and more so, considering you get a bigger bang for your buck!

5.    Free Camping!
Save a bundle on lodging and campout! There are on-site Teepees or bring your own tent. For the less adventerous, there are a number of B & B's and motels in the area. Also, plenty of restaurants and grocery stores.

6.    Close to photography mecca, Rochester, NY.
Camp Tintype is about 90 miles south of Rochester. Call ahead to the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and make an appointment to see their behind the scenes collection of rare old wet-plate images and equipment, if you like. Cost is only the standard price of admission to the museum.

7.   The workshops are specifically taught, as is necessary to do the wet-plate process in the field.
Most see themselves going outside or on the road to shoot wet-plate, at some point in time. This requires a certain know-how and set of gear unlike the generally less challenging modern walk-in darkroom and studio situation other wet-plate workshops and tutorials tend to be taught in. After learning to do the process in the field and becoming comfortable with that, it is an easy transition to doing it in a studio. Not so, the other way around!

8.   Camp Tintype is laid back.
The rooster starts sounding off at about 5:30AM, but class doesn't start till about 9:00AM. All take a short lunch break at about noon (bring your own snacks and beverage) and then resumes till about 5:30PM or whenever. The class is often still talking wet-plate on into the night while roasting hot dogs and smores over the big evening campfire.

9.   Totally experienced Teacher.
John Coffer has been doing wet-plate collodion photography professionally for more than 27 years and been teaching workshops and tutorials for over fourteen years. He has had many apprentices over that time and is ultimately the teacher to the teachers of the teachers of the teachers. His personal work is well known in the art photography world, having had numerous shows of his Tintypes in some of the most prestigious galleries in New York City and the country. He has been favorably reviewed and featured in top publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, Village Voice, People, Wired, Aperture, and Forbes, to name a few.

You can expect plenty of patient help from John at the workshop or by correspondence afterwards.

10.   The world's best wet-plate Manual and Instructional DVD.
At a whopping 165 pages, no other contemporary manual compares! And, it comes with a 4 hour DVD set, that features the process in detail, the many equipment options, black japanning Ferrotype plates (for making authentic Tintypes on) and many other must see to appreciate vital aspects of wet-plate collodion photography. And, if that isn't enough, you receive your copy as soon as you sign up for a workshop or tutorial. It's mailed right out to you. Many get a big head start that way. No other wet-plate workshop dares to provide so much!

11.   We have TeePees for students to stay in!
As well as other 19th century-style very comfortable and fun tentage.


12.   Top-notch cameras and other equipment
We do not use original mid-19th century era wet-plate cameras in our workshops, but rather finely crafted, very serviceable reproductions with original wet-plate era lenses and also, and very importantly, an assortment of 20th century cameras of all shapes and sizes, adapted to doing wet-plate. You will be able to relax and not live in fear that you might harm an ultra rare fine original 1860's or 70's wet-plate camera. Actually, those cameras are so scarce now they should never be used but rather carefully preserved for future generations to study. With our repro and otherwise cameras you will be able to shoot way more plates, having nearly unrestricted mobility about the farm setting up your compositions. Yes, I know, not as sexy as being able to say you shot a couple plates through an all original wet-plate camera, but far less stressful and way more productive. You'll soon find out Camp Tintype workshops are very much about doing and not about pomp and pageantry.

13.   We’ve got Cyanide!
By far the best fixing solution for wet-plate photography is Potassium Cyanide (KCN). See my Myth Busters page for a comparison study of fixing solution options. KCN is also by far the most difficult to obtain of all the chemicals used in the wet-plate process. When I say difficult I mean really, really difficult unless you are well connected with some large institution or have some black market connections and have bags of money. Because we are always willing go the extra mile here at Camp Tintype for our workshop and tutorial students they can buy a limited amount. In 2017 single half pound lots will be $125 cash and carry. I will not ship. That may seem pricy but a little bit goes an unbelievably long way. That amount would last the average shooter at least two or three years cranking out hundreds upon hundreds of plates. Kept in a well-sealed plastic bottle, its shelf life in the raw or in the form of diluted working solution is unlimited. KCN will even fix plates perfectly, as weak as a .01% solution. That is one gram to 1000 mls of water. That is incredibly dilute but expect fixing times as long as 3 to 4 minutes or about the same time as sodium thiosulfate which is your best authentic alternative fixer. This super dilute KCN solution may be just the ticket for those who fear working with it or having KCN around in a public setting and fear that some toddler might drink it. The normal working strength we use in the workshops is 1.1% solution for a super quick fixing time of only about eight seconds or less. Much more time than that and it acts as a reducer which can be helpful if your image is slightly over exposed and needs darkening and a bit more contrast. For those who do not want to mess with the raw, extremely poisonous stuff in powder form, we can sell KCN premixed in 1.1% solution for $10 a liter. Again, cash and carry to our workshop and tutorial students only and at the workshop they are in only. Our supply is limited and once it’s gone there will be no replacing it.

We are one of the few wet-plate workshops that uses KCN to fix with and the only one you can buy any at.

Be aware, also, that there is no waiting your turn to use equipment and shoot plates. Only at Camp Tintype does each student have full-time access to a personal walk-in darkroom or field darkbox with a complete set of chemistry and accessories. All students also have their choice of numerous wet-plate dedicated or compliant cameras to freely use to set up their own compositions around the farm or in our simple skylight studio.

Reproduction of an 1850's 11x14 field camera with original Darlow lens.
Camera and tripod made by Tony Miller, 1998.
Image is a 5x7 albumen print by John Coffer from a 5x7 wet-plate nagative

Note: There are no phones or E-mail at "Camp Tintype".
Correspondence is, by preference, done by mail. Write:

John A. Coffer
"Camp Tintype"
1236 Dombroski Road
Dundee, NY 14837

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Website updated on: 1/7/2017

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