News and Information from
Camp Tintype

Contents and What's New

   Introducing a NEW Workshop: "Doing the Uncommon Common"  <<< Due to a cancellation, one seat has opened up.
   2016 "All-around" Workshop Information  <<< All seats are now full. Standby list available.
   2016 "Just Tintypes" Workshop Information  <<< Only 2 seats are left for this workshop. See available dates below.
   More of John's artwork is now offered for purchase  <<< Do not delay on these rare pieces.
   Announcing a Free CFL Light Bank Primer  <<< To anyone enrolled in any workshop or tutorial.
   Own a rare piece of Photographic History  <<< The world's first Mammoth Plate tintype is for sale.
   2015 Workshop Student Photos  <<< See many fine examples of student works  
   2016 Jamboree dates announced  <<< And they are: July 29, 30 & 31, 2016
   Portraiture At Camp Tintype again in 2016  <<< Updated information posted - October 2015
   Tintype Gallery Updates  <<< Portraiture at Camp Tintype samples added - December 2015
   Horse Hairs in My Soup - eBook series by John Coffer  <<< A preview of Chapter 12 is now posted.
   Myth Busters articles  <<< Three new articles posted - March 2014
   Brief Overview of the Wet-Plate Process  <<< Scan of a letterpress handout
   Manuals and DVDs Now Available  <<< ** See note regarding hand-written version of Doers Guide **
   Wet-Plate Collodion Follow-Up Kit
   Contact Information
   Biographical & Camp Tintype Information   

John & Brownie

John Coffer and his old traveling horse, Brownie, at Camp Tintype.

Albumen print from a wet-plate collodion negative.  ©2001 by John Coffer.


    Some of John's rare artwork is now for sale to the general public:

    FREE! CFL Light Bank Primer

This is an exclusive to be found only at Camp Tintype. Come the evening before the workshop or tutorial you are enrolled in and see a wet-plate demo using simple, affordable, electric Compact Florescent studio lighting. This is the easiest and most consistent method for lighting that many are using today. We like to cover all the bases here at ol’ Camp Tintype!

    Portraiture at Camp Tintype continues in 2016

Due to the overwhelming response and unprecidented demand for true 19th century authentic wet-plate collodion photography, we are offering our totally unique portrait weekends again, but with thrice as many as ever before. Don't miss this "found nowhere else" opportunity while it should last! This service will continue to be offered by John at Camp Tintype in 2016. For a detailed description, 2016 dates, and pricing, click here for the info.

    Gear for Buy, Sell, or Trade

John has an 1860's T. Ross No. 2 CDV lens that he would like to buy a mate for, or trade for a fine Petzval lens. If you are interested, please contact John.

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2016 Workshop Information

NOTE: The 2016 All-around Workshops are now full. However, you can put your name on a standby list and should someone cancel out (or more workshops are scheduled later in the year), you could still get in. Just mail your name and contact information to John and you will be put on the list on a first-come first-served basis.

    The Fun Begins long before workshop time with a “Camp Tintype” Workshop
It is our policy to send the celebrated Doers Guide to Wet-plate Photography manual with 3 ½ hour wet-plate instructional DVD set to each student soon after they sign up and send in their deposit. They can study this and get a great leg up on the process long before they arrive. Many are actually shooting and gathering their own equipment and chemicals months before setting foot on Camp Tintype. But, wait there’s more! Some even gather up another really fun thing and that is “Hobo Tin”, as we like to call it. Because we get into black japanning our own plates in the workshops, we can black japan a variety of materials. That can easily be thin sheet steel or aluminum salvaged from metal cans such as cookie tins, popcorn cans, gun powder cans, etc., or even your favorite beer or soda pop cans. With this you can make tintypes with a wet-plate image on one side and the artwork and logo that is on the can on the back side. This will send your work over the top from being just a wet-plate image to being a genuine Americana Folk art piece. Only at Camp Tintype can you do such fun stuff with wet-plate!

Hobo Tin - front

Hobo Tin - back

    BONUS FOR 2016 Workshop Students
All students will be given at NO EXTRA CHARGE an original 1850-60’s Ambrotype/Tintype case of their choice to put their own work in or to keep as is with the original 19th century image in it. An assortment of cases in the 16th, 9th, and 6th plate sizes will be available. They will all be in restored and totally functioning condition. We at Camp Tintype believe that Historical Process Photography should at least give a tip of the hat to its historical roots.

Cases Cases

Every workshop and tutorial student will be receiving the following book at no extra charge, courtesy of Lindsay Publications, Inc.:


******************   Now in our 21st year of teaching wet-plate workshops!   ******************

Featuring three solid days of hands-on training in the making of:

2016 Regular All-Around Workshop Dates:
FULL! June 9, 10, 11 FULL!
FULL! July 7, 8, 9 FULL!

$950.00 per student...No lab fees!
A $250.00 deposit is required to secure enrollment.

Policy on Deposits for the Workshops:

The usual $250 deposit is required to hold a workshop spot for a student. It is refundable only if I can fill that spot with another student before workshop time. Absolutely no exceptions. Also, full payment of the rest of the tuition fee must be made 30 days or sooner before the workshop scheduled date by check, money order, or cash, just like the deposit. And also, just like the deposit, it is not refundable unless the workshop spot can be filled before workshop time. I regret this hardcore approach to the business side of the workshops, but after a couple of student no-shows, a no-show demanding his deposit back, and a rubber check in '09, I have no choice. You can only write so much off to the cost of doing business and I'm not the kind to drag people to small claims court or haggle over the filthy lucre.    -JC

Includes a comprehensive manual with instructional DVD set.
All materials and equipment provided.

Each student will receive "The Doers Guide", a complete, 165 page, fully illustrated workshop manual covering the entire wet-plate process, including the making of albumen photographs. Manuals can be purchased separately for $75.00 ppd. USA, refundable toward workshop tuition, and includes DVDs (4 hours total). The DVD set is available separately for $45.00 ppd. Contact John Coffer by regular mail for details.

Don't delay - class size is limited to only 4 students

For details and registration, write:
DUNDEE, NY 14837-9443

NOTE: Private tutoring is also available for $550 per day as to your schedule and individual needs. I have more than 33 years experience as a professional wet-plate collodion portrait photographer and am well prepared to teach you the correct time honored methods that work consistently and the best.    -JC

EXTRA! EXTRA! Free Play Day!

For those taking the above beginner/intermediate wet-plate collodion in-the-field workshops, you are invited to stay at no extra charge an extra day! You may shoot wet-plates with our gear and supplies to your heart's content. We have found over the years that after the third day of the workshop, all the students have the routine down pat and are chomping at the bit to keep right on shooting fun images around the farm. You may even shoot plates as large as 8x10 (limited in number) if you like.

Also, remember that students are encouraged and welcome to check in the day before the workshop officially begins to settle in if they are camping, but also to look over the wet-plate gear we will be using, or have us look over any potential wet-plate gear they care to bring along for evaluation or would like to try to shoot with. Further, be it known that workshop days are very full at Camp Tintype. When the sun shines we make wet-plate hay, and after supper we usually varnish plates and mix some chemistry into the night. In short, if you are seeking as much wet-plate bang for your buck as you can get, look no further than Camp Tintype!

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2016 "Just Tintypes" Workshops

NOTE: Only 2 seats left in the 2016 "Just Tintypes" Workshops! See below.

NOTE #2: The 10% DISCOUNT IS EXTENDED until all of these seats are filled! Do not delay. They will soon be gone.

    The popular "Just Tintypes" workshops are a continuing favorite
If wet-plate tintypes are what grabs you the most, this is the workshop for you. If you are an experienced wet-plate photographer but want to specialize in tintypes, this workshop will put you on the right path. If you are a total beginner but don't see yourself doing anything but tintypes for the foreseeable future, there is no better way to start off with learning wet-plate than with making tintypes.

    THE MAMMOTH PLATE OPTION is back in 2016 for "Just Tintypes" workshop students only!
Yes, it’s true! Take any of the 2016 "Just Tintypes" workshops or tutorials and get a chance at shooting a 20”x 24” MAMMOTH! I have found that after the third day of my tintype workshops that a significant number of my students are ready and able to take on a Mammoth. All that you will have to provide extra is a $400 lab fee. This will allow you to shoot two 20”x 24” plates. So, how do you know you are ready? If you can shoot a decent 8x10, you can do this. Personally, I have been shooting 20”x 24” wet-plate collodion Mammoths since 2002. The first ever Mammoth Ferrotype Tintypes were shot here. Since then my Mammoths remain unchallenged and have been exhibited by prestigious galleries from coast to coast. So, you couldn’t have a more experienced Mammoth plate teacher. We will work together in and out of my new walk in darkroom booth to ensure you will perform all the steps properly. For this first Mammoth Plate experience, we will be using the extremely easy and convenient Black Trophy plaque aluminum plates (AKA aluminotype or alumitype). With these ultra easy beginner plates it becomes mere child’s play, except for using lots and lots chemicals! It’s a great way to top off an unforgettable Camp Tintype workshop experience. No other workshop in the world could or would dare to offer this incredible opportunity!   -JC

Note: You are responsible for the packing and transport of your Mammoths. I will not pack them and ship them for you. I suggest that you send a suitable box and packing materials ahead of your arrival if you plan to do this exciting option.


    The Pretty Big Plate Option
If Mammoths seem just too big a leap or you would like a stepping stone up to them you’ll love this option. For only an extra $150 lab fee you can shoot two 11x14 Aluminotype Tintypes. 8x10’s are an option for any student who cares to try that pretty dang big plate size at no extra charge.

    "Just Tintypes" workshops dates for 2016

2016 Just Tintypes Workshop Dates:
Only one seat left! June 23, 24, 25 Only one seat left!
Only one seat left! August 11, 12, 13 Only one seat left!

Tuition for 2016:
$900.00 per student...No lab fees!
A $250.00 deposit is required to secure enrollment.

    This class is sure to be productive and exciting!
We will be shooting both authentic Ferrotype tintypes, as well as the popular peel and pour, non-authentic (but great for practice) aluminotype tintypes, in sizes up to 8" x 10". Everyone will get a chance to black japan their own plates by the original baked on asphaltum paint method. Hand coloring will be practiced on plates of your choice for spectacular image results. Stereo tintypes and round badge tintypes will also be a couple fun options. Without a doubt more plates will be shot in this workshop than any other!

    FAQ - Can I make a couple of ambrotypes in the "Just Tintypes" workshop?
Glad you asked! Sure, you can. Lots of students have and you can, too. And at NO extra charge! After you get the hang of making Tintypes, it's just a matter of a few minutes of further instruction on how to prepare a glass plate. Then you'll be good to go to pour an ambrotype.

    Class size is limited, so register soon.

To sign up for this unique class, write to:

John A. Coffer
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Making the Uncommon Common Workshop

NOTE: This 2016 Workshop has one seat left. Due to a cancellation, a seat has opened up for this unique workshop. Mail your deposit now to claim the seat.

Are you the kind of deep historical process photographer who wants to experience it all? Are you getting tired of running with the hip crowd that seems to be only about flooding the globe with a gazillon aluminum plate tintypes, black glass ambrotypes, and big inkjets from scans of them? Then check this workshop out.

Yes, the exciting and compelling wet-plate collodion process is taught, but in this one we also play in the ink in Camp Tintype’s very own complete letterpress print shop. We will be making albumen paper using eggs gathered from our own free range chickens. All will shoot glass negatives and learn how to easily intensify them. From these negatives we will be making authentic albumen prints the good old way, using natural sunshine. The prints will be mounted on cabinet cards, carte de visite card mounts, or if you want to shoot stereo, you can letter press print your own personalized card mount for that as well. No one is doing this sort of work nowadays, let alone teaching it, even though cabinet card, carte de visite, and albumen print card mounted stereo views were extremely common in the 19th century. Probably trillions were made.

Yet, how unique in our times it will be for you to come away with something that no one else is doing or likely will ever do? Only at Camp Tintype would something that bold be offered. For that reason, and because this kind of fine art and craftsmanship demands an extra helping of work and commitment, this workshop will fill slowly, if at all. You might be the only one in the workshop! Because this class is of an advanced nature, previous wet-plate experience is preferred but is not essential. This special workshop will be held on

    This unique workshop will be held on August 25, 26, 27, and 28, 2016
This is the ONLY time this year that this workshop will be held!

    Here are examples of card mounted prints that you can make in this workshop:


    Tuition is $950. No lab fee. A $250 deposit is required.

To sign up for this unique class, write to:

John A. Coffer
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Manuals and DVDs Now Available

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This manual has cost me way more money than it's made. Why? Because it’s so utterly thorough and complete. And especially so, with its three and a half hour instructional DVD set included with it! Many a would-be wet-plate photographer has bought it, taught themselves the process, then gone onto making award-winning wet-plate images without ever setting foot in my workshops or anyone else's, for that matter. That said, do keep in mind that a workshop experience at "Camp Tintype" is something beyond just a workshop. It is a life changing experience.   -JC

    The Doers Guide to Wet-Plate Collodion Photography, plus complete DVD Set
The Doers Guide to Wet-Plate Collodion Photography manual, with the complete DVD set, is now available for $85.00 ppd. (Canada cost is $100.00 ppd. and overseas cost is $125.00 ppd.) $75.00 if bought at "Camp Tintytpe"

The Doers Guide and Complete Wet-Plate Instructional DVD Set cover all aspects of wet-plate photography, including chemical mixing, managing, and maintaining.

    You have a choice between a hand-written (xeroxed, of course) or computer-typeset manual (Please specify)

** NOTE FROM JOHN: The hand-written version of the Doers Guide will get a major re-write and update later this Fall and Winter and is no longer available until then. The typeset version will continue to be available.   -JC

Manual by hand             Manual by computer

    Please note the following payment information

To order any of the above material, write to:

John A. Coffer
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Your Wet-Plate Collodion Follow-Up Kit

    Finally, a reliable kit for the beginning wet-plate workshop student
You are now able to take this home for an uninterrupted flow of wet-plate fun!

    For only $400.00, this kit includes the following:


NOTE: The kit absolutely does NOT contain an alcohol burner spirit lamp, otherwise known as the "Molotov Cocktail of wet-plate photography." (Read my Myth Busters article to get details as to why it's gotten that tag.)

    This kit is only available to workshop & tutorial students at "Camp Tintype"
No other workshop or tutorial anywhere offers this extra service. Yet another reason why "Camp Tintype" workshops are the Best!

    Black acrylic silver baths also available
We will be selling sturdy, well-made, black acrylic 5x7 silver baths for only $65.00 to workshop students ... only this year!

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Jamboree 2016 - July 29, 30, and 31

     Jamboree 2016 Dates Announced

The 2016 Jamboree will be held on July 29, 30, & 31. Stay tuned for further updates.     -JC

For more information and authorization to attend the 2016 Jamboree, please write:

John A. Coffer
"Camp Tintype"
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Contact Information

E-mail address:

Click here to email John
Please note that since John does not have Internet access at Camp Tintype, all email sent here will be printed and mailed to John once every couple of weeks. To receive a reply from John as soon as possible, please include your mailing address in the email. It will be faster to write him a letter at…

Mailing address:

John A. Coffer
1236 Dombroski Rd.
Dundee, NY 14837

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Biographical & Camp Tintype Information

"Camp Tintype" is the best known and longest running learning center for wet-plate collodion photography in the world. It is the creation of its founder, John Coffer. Its humble beginnings started in 1978, when John hitched a bay workhorse named "Brownie" up to a 19th century style darkroom wagon dubbed the "Photographic Van" and criss-crossed the continent for seven years, plying his trade as an old time traveling portrait photographer. This was an experience as unique as the many tintypes and prints from glassplate negatives he made and sold along the way.

Having started out using commercially available, at the time, dry plate tintypes and glass negatives to make his living, he eventually was able to glean enough information from historic archives and gather up the necessary chemicals from different sources, that by 1982, he was able to do the much more desirable wet-plate collodion process. That spring, he immediately began making wet-plate collodion Tintypes (the real Ferrotype kind), ambrotypes, and glass plate negatives for his patrons, as he camped on field and farm and small town back lots along his way.

In 1985, after more than 11,000 wagon miles and having passed through 36 different states, John and his horse "Brownie" settled down on their own 50 acre farm in the heart of the beautiful "Finger Lakes" country of up-state New York.

Tintype of John Coffer by Tom DeLooza, 2005

He began offering his, now famous, three day wet-plate collodion photography in the field workshops in the summer of 1996. Since then, to keep up with the demand, he has had to schedule steadily more workshops each year and is, also, increasingly busy with private one-an-one tutorials.

"Brownie" went on to graze in the big pasture in the sky at the ripe old age of 34.

Here are twelve reasons why "Camp Tintype" workshops are the best wet-plate collodion experience to be had anywhere:

1.    Highest student teacher ratio.
The class is limited to only four students and will be taught regardless as to any fewer than that should arrive.

2.    Students make a lot of Pictures.
Typically, a workshop student goes home with ten to a dozen or more plates. Each student will be making Tintypes, ambrotypes, glass negative, and albumen prints.

3.    Ideal span of Time.
Three days has proven to be just right for this immersion experience.

4.    The Price is Right.
Shop around and you'll see that "Camp Tintype" workshop and tutorial prices are very competitive and more so, considering you get a bigger bang for your buck!

5.    Free Camping!
Save a bundle on lodging and campout! There are on-site Teepees or bring your own tent. For the less adventerous, there are a number of B & B's and motels in the area. Also, plenty of restaurants and grocery stores.

6.    Close to photography mecca, Rochester, NY.
Camp Tintype is about 90 miles south of Rochester. Call ahead to the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and make an appointment to see their behind the scenes collection of rare old wet-plate images and equipment, if you like. Cost is only the standard price of admission to the museum.

7.   The workshops are specifically taught, as is necessary to do the wet-plate process in the field.
Most see themselves going outside or on the road to shoot wet-plate, at some point in time. This requires a certain know-how and set of gear unlike the generally less challenging modern walk-in darkroom and studio situation other wet-plate workshops and tutorials tend to be taught in. After learning to do the process in the field and becoming comfortable with that, it is an easy transition to doing it in a studio. Not so, the other way around!

8.   Camp Tintype is laid back.
The rooster starts sounding off at about 5:30AM, but class doesn't start till about 9:00AM. All take a short lunch break at about noon (bring your own snacks and beverage) and then resumes till about 5:30PM or whenever. The class is often still talking wet-plate on into the night while roasting hot dogs and smores over the big evening campfire.

9.   Totally experienced Teacher.
John Coffer has been doing wet-plate collodion photography professionally for more than 27 years and been teaching workshops and tutorials for over fourteen years. He has had many apprentices over that time and is ultimately the teacher to the teachers of the teachers of the teachers. His personal work is well known in the art photography world, having had numerous shows of his Tintypes in some of the most prestigious galleries in New York City and the country. He has been favorably reviewed and featured in top publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, Village Voice, People, Wired, Aperture, and Forbes, to name a few.

You can expect plenty of patient help from John at the workshop or by correspondence afterwards.

10.   The world's best wet-plate Manual and Instructional DVD.
At a whopping 165 pages, no other contemporary manual compares! And, it comes with a 4 hour DVD set, that features the process in detail, the many equipment options, black japanning Ferrotype plates (for making authentic Tintypes on) and many other must see to appreciate vital aspects of wet-plate collodion photography. And, if that isn't enough, you receive your copy as soon as you sign up for a workshop or tutorial. It's mailed right out to you. Many get a big head start that way. No other wet-plate workshop dares to provide so much!

11.   We have TeePees for students to stay in!
As well as other 19th century-style very comfortable and fun tentage.


12.   Top-notch cameras and other equipment
We do not use original mid-19th century era wet-plate cameras in our workshops, but rather finely crafted, very serviceable reproductions with original wet-plate era lenses and also, and very importantly, an assortment of 20th century cameras of all shapes and sizes, adapted to doing wet-plate. You will be able to relax and not live in fear that you might harm an ultra rare fine original 1860's or 70's wet-plate camera. Actually, those cameras are so scarce now they should never be used but rather carefully preserved for future generations to study. With our repro and otherwise cameras you will be able to shoot way more plates, having nearly unrestricted mobility about the farm setting up your compositions. Yes, I know, not as sexy as being able to say you shot a couple plates through an all original wet-plate camera, but far less stressful and way more productive. You'll soon find out Camp Tintype workshops are very much about doing and not about pomp and pageantry.

Be aware, also, that there is no waiting your turn to use equipment and shoot plates. Only at Camp Tintype does each student have full-time access to a personal walk-in darkroom or field darkbox with a complete set of chemistry and accessories. All students also have their choice of numerous wet-plate dedicated or compliant cameras to freely use to set up their own compositions around the farm or in our simple skylight studio.

Reproduction of an 1850's 11x14 field camera with original Darlow lens.
Camera and tripod made by Tony Miller, 1998.
Image is a 5x7 albumen print by John Coffer from a 5x7 wet-plate nagative

Note: There are no phones or E-mail at "Camp Tintype".
Correspondence is, by preference, done by mail. Write:

John A. Coffer
"Camp Tintype"
1236 Dombroski Road
Dundee, NY 14837

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