Wet Plate Photography Demonstration Recap

By Katie Derr

Robert Szabo, a professional wet plate collodion photographer, visited President Lincoln’s Cottage on Saturday, October 11, 2008, to demonstrate the photography techniques used during the Civil War. This program was provided free and to the public by President Lincoln’s Cottage.

Photographer R. Szabo conducts a demonstration of Civil War photography techniques at President Lincolns Cottage

Photographer R. Szabo conducts a demonstration of Civil War photography techniques at President Lincoln's Cottage

Bearing a “portable” dark room and old-style camera, Szabo showed Cottage visitors and residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home the processes involved in 19th century photography by photographing the 1905 Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center and 1842 President Lincoln’s Cottage. Szabo demonstrated how to prepare glass plates for use in his camera and “developed” the glass plate negatives on site. Observers were captivated by the process and excited to see the developed images. As Szabo moved his camera equipment around the Cottage for various shots, curious visitors and local residents trailed him, asking questions as they watched the same photography techniques from 150 years ago in use once again at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

For more information on wet plate collodion photography and Robert Szabo, visit his website at www.robertszabo.com.

Ms. Derr is the Administrative Assistant at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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