Photographer Uses His iPhone’s Glass Back as a Collodion Process Wet Plate

iPhone users who want to flaunt their inner photography geek can buy special skins or cases that transform their phone into a camera look-alike. That option wasn’t awesome enough for photographer Jake Potts of Bruton Stroube Studios, who recently decided to use his phone’s glass back to create an ambrotype photo using the wet plate collodion process!

Potts writes,

To make an ambrotype, a piece of glass is coated with salted collodion, sensitized, placed into a camera and exposed like a piece of film. Then back in the darkroom, the glass plate is developed, fixed and washed. This process was invented in 1851 and has recently been embraced again by many artists and photographers for its unique aesthetic and hand-made quality.

After purchasing a replacement iPhone back panel that was sans branding, Potts created a custom “film holder” so that his phone could be attached to his camera. He then scrubbed the glass clean, and poured on a coating of collodion:

After the collodion is on the plate, it has to be sensitized, shot, and developed before the collodion dries, which is probably 10-15 minutes. Once sensitized, it has to stay in the dark to be loaded in the holder. The holder is then taken to the camera fitted with a lens that dates to 1872 (woah, camera nerd alert!) and the exposure is made. Back in the darkroom, the plate is taken out and developed. Development times are fast, around 15 seconds (unlike film which takes minutes).

The next step involves placing the plate (currently with a negative image) in the fixer, which reverses the image and gives it a warm-tone:

Here’s what the resulting photo looked like:

Potts says that as far as he knows, this is the first time anyone has used an iPhone for wet plate collodion photography.

You can follow his work on Twitter at @jakepotts and @brutonstroube.

Say Hello to iPlate [Bruton Stroube Studios]

Image credits: Photographs by Jake Potts/Bruton Stroube Studios and used with permission

  • Richard Horsfield

    Too cool for an iPhone…

  • Baldur Tryggvason

    Very Geeky, but also very cool.

  • Zak Henry

    I wonder how well it will hold up to general use; its too cool to get scratched!

  • Annubells

    I want him to do one on my iphone! Very cool.

  • thekyle

    He knows the black plate of glass can be removed, right?

  • thekyle

    But still exceptionally cool.

  • Emma Brabrook

    I’m pretty sure he does, it says he bought one without branding and used that instead of the one that came with it.

  • Indra Moonen

    Did you varnish the plate to protect it from scratches and the like?
    It’s really awesome! I’m gonna have a go at it myself!

  • Lainer

    Does it ruin the iPhone?

  • learn how to read

    yes, it totally ruined his iphone. did you even read the article?

  • ajira

    SOOOO cool! Love this!

  • ctea

    it didn’t say anywhere in the article that his iphone is ruined..

  • allison

    that is pretty darn hip

  • Samcornwell

    I’m a self confessed iPhone addict and I shoot wet plate collodion every single day. Why have I not done this yet?

  • Samcornwell

    OK, Michael. Watch this space. Instead of ruining my iPhone I’m going to make an iPhone case and print a wet collodion picture on the back. I’ll link you up when I’m done.

  • Guest

    fixer dose not reverse an image it FIXES it. In other words it keeps it from developing further to the point where it totally turns black. Glass plates are made to look like positives by putting them on a black background, there is no reversal it just appears positive.

  • Steven Davis

    Unless it has a protective coating added not long. Because he used a piece of glass that already had a black backing he wouldn’t be able to put the emulsion on the inside so it’s exposed and on the outside of the phone. He could put a clear coat of epoxy over it tho and it could last a very long time.


    he was employing sarcasm