After a year of hard work and detailed design, Steve Lloyd of Chroma Camera and I are pleased to announce that the Kickstarter campaign for the ChromaGraphica Double Dry Plate Holder (and sheet film holder!) in 4×5, 5×7, and 8×10 is officially open!
Our goal is nothing short of historic: the first mass-produced dry plate holder in decades.
Gelatin dry plate photography is an analog black and white photographic process which dates from the 1870s when silver halide photographic emulsion was hand-poured onto glass plates and allowed to dry prior to use as a negative. The development of dry plate negatives made photography more convenient than the wet plate process of the mid-1800s, which required the negative (or positive image) to be exposed and developed onsite. Due to the greater convenience of flexible film, dry plate photography faded out of common use by the 1930s.
For the past several decades, shooting dry plates has meant making them yourself. In 2017, I established Pictoriographica and began making and selling my own hand-made dry plates to photographers around the world.
As word spread about the new availability of dry plates, lack of a suitable solution for dry plate holders quickly became an issue. Like sheet film, light-proof holders are essential for shooting dry plate. Most people ended up using 100+ year-old holders. While solutions do exist, I do not think they are ideal.
Our 11-month collaborative effort has pushed the design as far as possible, including prototyping, testing, and incorporating lessons learned back into the holder designs. Now we need the help of interested backers to make these holders a reality. The Kickstarter campaign is intended to raise the funds necessary to cover costs of manufacturing of molds for the injection molded components, an initial production run, assembly of the holder.
The ergonomics of the ChromaGraphica holder will be very similar to sheet film holders. It accommodates two dry plates, front and back, and plates are loaded from the bottom. The holders will also accommodate sheet film sheath adapters so you can load sheet film in our holder as well.
The dark slide handle is white on one side and black on the other, to allow you to differentiate between exposed and unexposed plates.
In addition, the ChromaGraphica incorporates a unique feature which we call a loaded plate indicator. This allows you to determine at a glance whether you have a plate loaded (one indicator for each side). No more having to go into the darkroom to check, or taking that million-dollar shot on an empty holder. This is a feature I could have used many times in the past. 🙂
The ChromaGraphica Double Dry Plate holder is fully compatible with standard 4×5, 5×7, and 8×10 cameras, including the Graflok back.
Taking advantage of modern manufacturing methods, the pricing of the holders meets my oft-stated goal of making dry plate photography an accessible and affordable alternative process for the larger photographic community. Affordability, familiarity of use, and quality were fundamental requirements that we adopted and stuck with from the beginning of the design effort last year.
Campaign reward levels for single holders, in USD, are:
- 4×5 holder: $54
- 5×7 holder: $75
- 8×10 holder: $108
There will be pledge options for multiple holder rewards as well as a campaign-exclusive silver gelatin print reward, enlarged from a dry plate exposed using the prototype holder.I’m going to have some fun with the print: I will never digitalize, nor will I ever authorize a digital version to be made of this print and image.
(EM: He’s serious, I unsuccessfully bugged him about giving me a scan).
The plate will reside entirely in the analog world so you have to get or see a real print to view it. The print will be an artistic statement … a challenge to the world to keep something entirely outside the universe of ones and zeros. I haven’t shot the plate yet, but I will. It will most likely be some local landscape scene here in Brookline, New Hampshire. A scene that will even be difficult to photograph with a digital camera. 🙂
We’re very much looking forward to your feedback and hope you enjoy the easter eggs we’ve embedded in the campaign. 🙂
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