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British Journal of Photography Almanac Annual Summary of Photographic Inventions and Events in Photographic History/1872

From George Eastman House : Notes On Photographs

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Edited by J. Traill Taylor

Among the many discoveries in photography that have first been proclaimed to the world through the columns of THE BRITTISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, none appears destined to effect such a revolution in our methods of operating as the collodio-bromide process of Sayce and Bolton. As soon as it was published the idea was acknowledged to be an excellent one, and communications on the subject occasionally appeared; but of late, thanks to the earnest and skilful attention bestowed upon this process by Mr. Lea and other gentlemen, contributions from whom upon this and other processes are to be found in this work, it has acquired a strong position, and is bidding fair to receive during the photographic season of 1872 a larger share of favour than is likely to be bestowed upon any or all of the other dry processes.

In June, 1871, was published in the BRITTISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY a dry process, the joint production of the late and lamented Mr. William Blair, of Perth, and Mr. Peter Adams. Circumstances have prevented me from giving the Blair-Adams dry process such a trial as I was desirous of doing before writing the present notice of it for the ALAMANAC; but I have tried it sufficiently to warrant me in saying that with suitable conditions the sensitiveness is indeed very great, the quality of the negative good, and the manipulations easy. The process is as follows: -A plate of glass having been cleaned and coated with a substratum of diluted albumen (the white of one egg to a pint of water) to prevent slipping of the film, is collodionised and excited in an ordinary thirty-five or forty-grain bath. An addition to the collodion of one or two grains of bromide of cadmium per ounce is recommended. After remaining in the bath for the usual time the plate is removed and thoroughly washed, and, after being drained, is then coated with a mixture composed as follows:-

Gum arabic………………………………………..1 ounce,
Sugar candy………………………………………..1/2 ounce,
Water………………………………………………..4 ounces,

with liquor ammonia added in such quantity as to render the solution alkaline to test paper. To any required portion of this add an equal quantity of a ten-grain solution of tannin. This is poured on and off until the surface is permeated by the solution, and the whole is then washed off. The development is effected by the ordinary alkaline pryo. Method.

No specialité in connection with the photographic lenses has been brought forward during the year 1871, with the exception of an addition that can be made to the ordinary landscape lens whereby its distortion may be cured without the focus being altered. This method has been patented by Mr. Howard Grubb. A plano-convex and a plano-concave lens-both made of crown glass, and of such curves as to make the two, when combined, in effect like a piece of plain glass in the sense of their having no magnifying power-are placed immediately in front of the stop of the lens, the rounded surface of the plano-convex lens to the outside. This causes such a degree of displacement of the marginal rays as to cure distortion.

The standard literature of photography has during the past year received a valuable addition in the shape of a second edition of Mr. M. Carey Lea’s Manual. This gentleman-who, as every reader is aware, is, and has for several years been, the American correspondent of the BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY-has in this edition of his Manual given useful information concerning the collodio-bromide process (which owes so much to his valuable researches and industry), and a method of keeping printing paper sensitive for a long period without discolouration.

After a protracted trial in the Vice-Chancellor’s Court, the patent of Mr. B.J. Edwards for his registration printing-frames has been set aside. The affidavits and judgment given in this case (Edwards v. Wortley) were published in THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY for December 8, 1871.

A useful piece of apparatus to enable photographers to practice the wet collodion process in the field has been invented by Mr. B.J. Edwards. It is designated the “Graphogenic Apparatus.” From some pictures that were in the last exhibition, taken by means of this apparatus, it appears to answer the purpose for which it was intended. A detailed account of it has been published in THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY.

A new style of portrait made its appearance in the beginning of the year. The “cameo vignette” was first introduced in Vienna; but it is now so extensively used in this country as to require no special description.

In the first of what we hope may prove a long series of annual International Exhibitions, held in London in 1871, photography was well represented; but it was undeniable that, as respects portraiture, foreign artists were generally acknowledged as having advanced a step beyond those of this country. As a proof of the apathy or laziness of some of the latter, pictures were contributed which had frequently been exhibited in previous exhibitions, and even in the windows of print establishments. The Commissioners have wisely determined to prevent this in future.

By adopting the hot-blast principle, Mr. Fletcher, of Warrington, has succeeded in obtaining, with common gas and atmospheric air, such a degree of heat as to melt platina with ease. The use of a blowpipe of this kind of photographers is obvious. If Mr. Fletcher succeeds in his endeavour to utilize this blowpipe in the production of the lime light, he will have achieved a most important discovery.

THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY has given the details of an exceedingly sensitive we collodion process, discovered by Mr. Black, of Edinburgh. When plates prepared by Mr. M. Carey Lea’s chloro-bromide formula are exposed in the camera whilst wet, instead of being allowed to become dry, a great increase of sensitiveness is the result.

It appears that the exquisite artistic effect of Herr Fritz Luckhardt’s portraits, which are considered to be the finest in last International Exhibition, was not a little indebted to his method of printing, which is as follows:-He adds to some plain collodion a few drops of a strong solution of aniline red, and with this he coats the back of the negative. When this is dry he removes, by means of a suitable scraper, the parts opposite those which he wishes deeply printed, leaving untouched the parts he considers too transparent. Some plates are coated a second time to produce the desired effect.

During the past summer Mr. G.W.H. Brogden showed me some admirable negatives he had taken by the collodio-bromide process. They received a very brief exposure, and were so good that I asked from him particulars of his method of proceeding, which he gave me as follows;-Use an albumen substratum; an emulsion with excess of silver, sixteen grains to the ounce of collodion. Soak the sensitised plates in water until the greasy lines are gone, then was under a tap. Use a preservative made as follows:-

Gum arabic ……………………………………1 ounce.
Sugar candy (white)…………………………..1/2 ounce
Water…………………………………………….40 ounces

Add liquor ammonia until just alkaline (not too much); then add to any required proportion an equal quantity of a ten-grain pryo. Solution. Pour a sufficient portion of the preservative on and off; then another portion from the stock solution, and, after running it over the plate, pour into a clean measure to use for the first application to the next plate. Drain for a few seconds; then wash off the preservative under a tap with a good flow, and set up to drain and dry. Back with a non-actinic backing. The plates will bear a very short exposure. Develop with alkaline pyro., using rather more bromide than usual. The image will come very weak; except by looking down upon the plate it will hardly be visible, and it looks very foggy and nasty. But when you see the detail come sufficiently, rather like a wet plate, wash, then use a solution of citric acid and water (just acid), flow over the plate, and wash again with distilled water, and then carry on the development , intensifying with pyro. And silver. It will come very rapidly, and can be got to any printing density. Fix with hypo.

I had for some time in my possession a very charming print, sent to this country in the summer by Mr. Coleman Sellers, of Philadelphia. It was a carte, introduced by Messrs. Wenderoth and Co., of that city, under the title of the “Two-Crayons Style.”

The print is dyed of a deep cream colour, and the high lights are then touched with opaque white pigment. The effect is good.

Mr. P. H. Adams has invented a method of mechanical printing, form which I have seen a fine picture produced. He dissolves gelatine in acetic acid, and sensitises with perchloride of iron. The plate is coated with this, and when dry is exposed for about three minutes under a transparency. It is then washed under a tap, after which it is treated with a solution of tannin, or any other of the numerous substances by which gelatine is hardened. The printing is effected by the lithographic method, a downward pressure similar to that of the platen or typographic press being preferred to the scraping action of the lithographic press.

The production of a surface on negatives suitable for retouching has received a fair share of attention during the year. The best method yet published is that of coating the plate with a varnish which forms a surface that permits of retouching by means of a blackened pencil without scratching. Such a varnish is to be found in an alcoholic solution of sandarac, to which castor oil is afterwards added.

A new and delicate test for alcohol has recently been discovered. The liquid suspected to contain alcohol is mixed with water, and a little of the chloride of benzoyl is dropped in, the whole being well mixed and then warmed. When cold, a few drops of caustic potash are added. If alcohol be present the liquid remains turbid and emits and agreeable aromatic odour. Limpidity and freedom form smell indicate the absence of alcohol.

The heliotype and analogous processes of mechanical printing have received much attention during the past year, and many improvements have been made. To Indicate the nature of such varied improvements would encroach too much on our limited space.

Among the subjects discussed at meetings of societies was the cracking of the varnished negative film-a subject deserving still more attention than it has received. The main cause of such cracking was attributed to dampness; and the best way to preserve negatives form this evil was considered to be the keeping of them, not in plate-boxes, but wrapped in soft paper.

We bring our introductory observations to a close by regretfully alluding to what, year by year, forms the darker shade in our sketch of the annals of photography. We refer to the many well-known and much respected workers in the photographic field who have been taken from our midst, among who were the following:-Mr. W.W. Rouch, chemist, who died at Mentone, on the 18th of February, aged 39. for several years previous to his death his health was very delicate.-Mr. T. R. Williams, of Regent-street, died on the 5ht of April, aged 46 years. Mr. Williams commenced his photographic career in the gallery of the late M. Claudet, at that time a Daguerreotypist. In 1850 Mr. Williams opened his wellknown establishment in Regent-street.-Mr. James Cooper, of Newington-green, died suddenly last April in the prime of his life. He was an enthusiastic amateur, and was in office in connection with the late North London Photographic Association.-Sir John Herschel, F.R.S., died on the 11th of May, aged 79 years. Photography in its infancy was greatly indebted to this distinguished savant. Shortly after his death an account of his photographic labours and discoveries was published in THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY.-Mr. William Blair, a tried and worthy friend, was drowned at Perth, on the 2nd of September. The obligations under which photography lay to that gentleman can only be ascertained form a perusal of its serial literature. He was a frequent contributor to THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, and his last communication to the photographic world appeared in its pages.