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The Blue Mosque of Shah Alam, though I nonchalantly ignored the “towing zone”. Quite risky, but I believe sometimes it helps to have a set up ready and being around if the authority begin snooping!

After months in acquiring the chemicals, setting up my own darkroom, fixing up my cameras and the mini-darkbox that was damaged due to the shipment, testing chemicals in a controlled environment… finally I am out mobile again!

I took my prepared gears out towards a large mosque in Shah Alam, which is known as the ‘Blue Mosque’. On an average day, even in early morning, the humidity starts blasting away as it is next to a large man-made lake.

It is different to set up my chemicals due to the high humidity and hot tropical weather compared to the constant ideal temperature I had experience in the UK. Though it was expected that I will be running into various issues of chemical fogging, in which I am pleased that it was overcame within this one outing.

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Testing out two variety of collodion salts

Literature and contemporary practitioners had suggested that one would need to utilise diluted restrainer for the developer, which I do agree, but tweaking around the time, the type of chemicals seems necessary to reduce down the problem to a working factor.

I had tried two variants of collodion salt, one of it was tone down with higher content of alcohol, in which surprisingly gave a better and slightly darker mid-tones, in which I do like.

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One of the final test plates.

Since I practised to manage small usage of water on-field, which I had the plates suspended in glycerine solution, I only bothered to have them properly washed few days later, after it was dried off, I had them scanned as it is a precautionary step, in which I am glad I had done so.

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My own mix of positive collodion salts, in which is close comparable with the suggested diluted collodion version, “Desderi Summer”. F/32 at 15 seconds

The first plate, above, was done with my own working mixture, which it had taken awhile to “mature” for use. The speed was good and it was slightly overcast with cloud, though still ample of UV to sustain for exposure.

The second salt was tested, in which I refer to “Desderi Summer”, in which was seemingly ideal as it utilised smaller quantity of collodion and just a tad bit more of alcohol and ether, in which still rendered a good, deeper mid-tones, in my observe opinion.

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The similar angle of the Blue Mosque, done with Desderi Summer Collodion Salt. The same F/32 at 15 seconds

Even as I favour the darker mid-tones and preferred contrast, as seen in the trees and the minarets, this collodion salt does have several unfavourable characteristics:

  • the film is weaker and made it easier to scratch if a there’s slight touch on the surface, which could be seen on the middle top of the image. This happened during the wash.
  • the collodion is slower to dry after pour, in which might be good if more time needed to dunk it into the silver bath, though I do not like the delay that much as it goes against than my usual routine, in which explains the swirl on the lower right corner of collodion not properly ‘tacky’.
  • This plate had melted on varnish hit… yep… this image is gone into limbo and turned to a nice mushy artsy pattern.

It was a learning session for certain, but nonetheless, my original mix plate had survived and I had it done up with a bit of hand-tinting prior varnishing, in which I favour to work with recently.

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Hand tinted, sandarac varnish collodion plate.

This particular outing was not only about the chemical and set-up test, but it is also the beginning of my visual journey here back home in Malaysia.

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