Old Workhorse Fast Clear – Side Note

From the “Big Collodion Test” I did a while back the Old Workhorse Fast Clear stood out to me as it gave me a much shorter exposure time. Having used it a bit more, including for negatives, I have come across something I don’t like, namely striations. Firstly I’ll repost the formula again so we all know what I’m talking about exactly:

240 ml USP Collodion
200 ml Alcohol
200 ml Ether

1,6 gr Cadmium Bromide
1,4 gr Ammonium Bromide
5,0 gr Ammonium Iodide

When making positives the plates did  not suffer from striations. When making negatives however this was extremely apparent. After having talked some more with Mark Osterman it came to my understanding that the Ammonium Iodide was the culprit here. On ambrotypes made on black glass with lots of contrast they’re less prone to show but on clear glass with an unbroken gradient of tonality they will be very apparent.
It’s also the chemical compound that gives this formula the “fast clear”. Now, personally I don’t care whether a solution is fast clear or not, usually when I make a fresh batch I don’t intend to use it straight away.

Cutting back on the Ammonium Iodide or substitute it with Potassium Iodide would solve this matter and (hopefully) retain the speed I’m after. The next batch will be the same formula as mentioned above but instead of Ammonium Iodide using Potassium Iodide, the original Old Workhorse formula that is. Will report back!


  1. Hi there! I made a few plates this weekend with a pre-mixed Old Workhorse from B&S. Some of my plates (positives on aluminum) have that same striation. It is quite interesting, because I can only see the striations at certain angles when looking at the plate. I can see them clearly when looking at the plates from an oblique angle, and less straight-on. Thanks for your posts, as they are very informative and helpful! Keep it up!

    1. Hi Ivan,

      Looking at their website they sell the Old Workhorse as Fast Clear which seems to be using Ammonium Iodide. Not sure as they don’t mention exactly the (amount of) salts used in their premixed formulas. When you have the chance, mix your own collodion. It’s not hard and you can adjust the formula to your specific needs. Also, you will learn the functionality of each specific ingredient of the collodion formula which leads to a better understanding of the process and being able to modify it.
      To me, it’s what makes it fun and interesting 😉


      1. Hey Indra,

        I will definitely mix my own as soon as I get through this batch. This is my first solo run, so I wanted to limit the variables (to increase my chances of success)! Thanks for the recommendations, as there is a lot to learn… and your posts definitely help beginners like myself. Thanks!

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