two thousand twenty
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Story and photos by:  ROBERT STOPPER, Lyons

Back in 1870, a group from the Philadelphia Exchange Club boated and shot “tin types” of the Erie Canal. That group of amateur photographers used a process called wet collodion, a process used between the years 1850-1870.  

Mark Osterman holding tin of Lyons Drydock
During the past week, June 3-7, 2013, a portion of that excursion was replicated between Macedon and Lyons on the Erie Canal by the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. Mark Osterman, Process Historian at the Museum, led a workshop class and instructed the class in the historic process of “wet collodion tin type” shooting.

Travel for the workshop was on a canal boat. In Lyons, the location was the drydocks. The dark room was an ice fishing tent set next to Lock E 28A. Focus areas included the floor of the drydocks and the historic massive steam dredge, the 1929 Dipper Dredge 3. According to Instructor Osterman, “These locations provide wonderful contrasts and variables so we can all better appreciate the importance of the framed composition. The collodion process can produce remarkably clear contrasts and depths”.
Nick Brandeth with Dipper Dredge 3
This “wet plate” Erie Canal excursion will end on Friday when the class returns to the George Eastman House Museum with an armload of what used to be pieces of simple tin. Now those former pieces of simple tin are valuable “new” historic recordings. To be sure the recordings endure and stay alive, the class will perform their final task- they will coat their works with varnish, thus completing the same process used over 125 years ago!

For more information about camps, classes, and workshops offered by the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, go to  http://www.eastmanhouse.org/events/classes.php


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2 Comments to "“Wet Collodion” Process Brings Life to Lyons Drydocks"

  1. Gil Burgess Said,

    Very interesting report! Thanks, Bob

    Posted on Fri Jun 07, 10:36:00 AM EDT

  2. Seth C. Burgess Said,

    Is this the same process used on the grave marker / monument in East Palmyra Cemetery which contained a metal photograph of the person buried there?

    Posted on Fri Jun 07, 11:12:00 AM EDT


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