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Wet Plate Photography

Wet plate photography was one of the earliest forms of photography. The name comes from having a plate of glass or metal covered in a light-sensitive emulsion.

This emulsion contained silver halides, which reacted when exposed to light.


  • Daguerreotype was around in the 1840s through 1850s. The process involved dangerous chemicals like mercury and chlorine. Polished silver plates, or copper plates with silver coatings, were used.
  • The ambrotype process used glass plates, but couldnโ€™t be duplicated. Fewer dangerous chemicals were needed to develop ambrotype plates.
  • The tintype process was the cheapest and easiest, using a thin piece of metal with a dark lacquer.