This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Dark-Room. The first requirement for the wet plate process is the dark-room. While any ordinary photographic dark-room will do, yet, as the wet plate is less sensitive to light than the modern dry plate, a much stronger light may be employed for manipulation of the wet plate than would be safe to use for the dry plate. A light which would be sufficiently safe for the development of bromide papers would be perfectly safe for the manipulation of the wet plate. Usually, one thickness of post-office paper over an ordinary light will be found perfectly safe. The yellow or amber color will be found better than the ruby light. While a less diffused light may be employed for the manipulation of the wet plate, a dark-room absolutely free from white or actinic light must be used.
Dark-Room Equipment. The dark-room should be equipped with a sink of sufficient size to allow of plenty of room for the developing directly over the sink. At one end of the sink you should prepare a place to receive the silver bath. This bath should be so located as to project only a trifle above the top of the sink itself. The top of the bench on which the silver bath rests should be covered with blotting paper, to take up and absorb any of the drippings that may fall from the wet plate coming direct from the silver bath.
872. For experimental purposes and small work, such as the making of lantern-slides, etc., one may use an ordinary clean tray for sensitizing the plate, but this will not prove very convenient, as a clip or dipper of some kind should be employed for the handling of the plate. The fingers must not come in contact with the silver solution, as this will stain them black on exposure to light; therefore, the regular silver bath dish with dipper for handling the plate is recommended.
873. At the opposite end of the sink you should have your fixing bath arranged in the same manner as the silver sensitizing bath. Each bath should be provided with a rubber dipper, upon which the plate is placed and carried to and from the bath. A shelf should be placed directly over the sink for holding the collodion bottles, also your developing and sensitizing solutions.
875. Apparatus Required - While the apparatus for the wet plate process is practically the same as that used for the dry plate, yet there are a few additional important parts necessary. The lens, camera and camera-stand may be the same as for the dry plate, yet the plate-holder for the camera is slightly different in construction. The curtain-slide, or what is usually styled the Benster plate-holder, is used; but, owing to the fact that there are some drippings of silver from the wet plate, which would drop onto the wooden guides of the plate-holder and very soon corrode them, special silver posts are used in the guides, and in addition to these silver posts, on the bottom guide there is attached a glass trough to catch the silver drippings from the plate. Aside from this the plate-holder is exactly the same as that used for the dry plate.
Illustration No. 28 Silver Bath See Paragraph 876.
876. In addition to the plate-holder, two large glass bath receptacles will be necessary, one to be used for your silver sensitizing bath and the other for your fixing bath. While you may construct such a bath dish, it is much cheaper in the end to purchase the regular vertical glass baths made especially for this purpose, which can be obtained from any photographic supply house (See Illustration No. 28.) These glass baths should be large enough to hold the largest plate that you will use. They are manufactured in regular sizes from 5 x 7 to 21 x 26 and are furnished fitted in a wooden box, or without, just as you desire. The most convenient bath is that furnished with a wooden box having a hinged cover, thus enabling you to keep your bath covered at all times, free from dust.