Last weekend I made some wet plate images at the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington. It was a hot weekend! Saturday was in the upper 90's with a heat index of 110. Sunday was a bit cooler, in the 80's with a heat index in the 90's. It was a challenging day, but I was able to make quite a few nice images despite the heat and humidity. Luckily I was able to tap into my "wet plate knowledge bank" to correct for a few errors here and there, and keep the process moving along both days.
Author Malcom Gladwell wrote in his 2008 book titled "Outliers: The Story of Success" that one needs 10,000 hours in order to be successful. This "10,000 Hour-Rule" describes practicing a craft until you have mastered the task.
One place where I have had my practice time is in wet plate collodion photography. It has been a fantastic journey of learning chemical compounds, the art of pouring plates and also making adjustments on the fly for variables in the process.
I've taken wet plate images in 100+ degree heat and in below zero temperatures. At living history events, on the side of road, in a few cemeteries and inside historic homes. Even with all this experience the process can go from stable and perfect to out of control and crazy at the drop of a hat. Sometimes multiple issues happen at once and shooting needs to stop while diagnosing the issues.
I look back on the plates I made 12 years ago and the images I am making today. The learning curve has been steep at times, but so rewarding now that I can make wet plate photographs the way I always wanted to. Stick with it! It will be o.k. Make mistakes, learn lessons, try something new. We are only on this planet once, why not go after those things you always wanted to do and try them out!!