In the past century, photography has become so simple and accessible that anyone can take a decent photo and enjoy a print or digital version. But up until about the 1880s, this wasn’t the case. Instead, photographers relied on wet plate technology which was developed in 1851 and would come to replace the daguerreotype.
Though wet plate photography had a relatively short lifespan before dry plate photography came along, it’s enjoying a comeback among photography enthusiasts, like Bucks County photographer Glenn Horan. Using a nineteenth century camera and development process, Glenn creates tin type images like the one seen here.
This year, Glenn visited the park for the December 13 crossing reenactment and used his own vehicle as a “mobile darkroom” to develop a few pictures of colonial reenactors.
“My brother Ken and I have been shooting digital for several years when we stumbled onto this,” he says. “We both were drawn to the aesthetic of the process as well as the idea of creating a single image on a single plate. Its slower process brings you much closer to the art of creating an image.”
The wet plate process requires immediate processing after he takes a picture—Glenn has about 6 minutes to develop the photo using a complex chemical process. From start to finish, the capture time on one image is about 20 minutes.
“We have been photographing landmarks and events through Bucks County with the intent to having an exhibition when we are finished,” Glenn says.