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Négatif sur verre collodion

The collodion glass plate negative process is a monochrome silver process invented by the Englishman Frederick Scott Archer in 1851, which was widely used until the 1880s.

It was not the first negative process to make use of a glass support: in fact, following experiments by his cousin Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in the early 1820s, in 1847 Claude Félix Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor developed the first feasible glass process in the form of albumen glass plate negatives. Although, because of its transparency, the images are sharper than the paper negatives used at the time, the process is laborious, specifically requiring a very long time for exposure and development; one reason why it was superseded by the collodion glass plate negative process. The collodion used to produce photographic negatives on glass is obtained by dissolving cellulose nitrate – a chemical product developed by the Swiss chemist Christian Frédéric Schönbein – in alcohol and ether.

The glass plates used are cut to the required size beforehand and thoroughly cleaned. The collodion containing halides – iodides and bromides – is poured onto the centre of the glass plate and then spread uniformly over the entire surface by gently tilting the plate.

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