Edited by J. Traill Taylor
In presenting a brief outline of the progress made during the past year I may commence by adverting with satisfaction to the development of carbon printing that has been made, and which is still going on steadily. Notwithstanding the care bestowed upon the production of silver prints, a very large proportion of them fade so rapidly as to prove to a serious degree detrimental to the best interest of our art-science in its commercial aspects. For the first time we are enabled to say, in connection with the review of a previous year’s work, that in one large portrait and general photographic establishment silver printing has been entirely abolished, and I hope to be able at the end of another year to say that this example has been widely followed. To the energy and ability displayed by M. Lambert, of Paris, is due in on small degree the fact of the increased vitality imparted to this mode of printing.
Enlargements have reached a degree of perfection not previously attained. Portraits had already been enlarged with great excellence; but during the past year landscape enlargements appear to have secured the greatest share of attention, and to this circumstance is doubtless due the perfection of the results. At no previous period in time has the important department of book illustration by photographic means been developed to such an extent as it has recently; there has scarcely been an illustrated work issued lately form the press to which photography has not contributed it s aid in one form or another. It is gratifying to be able to add that large and important industries have recently arisen and others are still being originated in connection with this branch of art, the technics of which, as well as its varied applications, are receiving further development.
In the optical phase of photography nothing of a novel character can be recorded. A want has long been experience in connection with obtaining a small negative by means of a portrait lens worked with its full aperture, by which as large an amount of sharpness might be secured all over the area of the plate as if a stop had been employed. Such a want bids fair to belong to a past epoch in the historic records of photographic processes, owing to the proposition, just two years since, and through the pages of a former ALMANAC, a concave plate of glass in front of the sensitive plate-and invention of Professor Piazzi Smyth’s which, after lying in a semi-dormant condition for twelve months, now exhibits indications of a rapid awakening to a vigorous existence. A form of portrait lens was, at the commencement of the present year, introduced by Messrs. Steinheil, one feature of which was that the back lenses in the combination were cemented. It can scarcely be said that the expectations thus indulged in having been fulfilled, for I understand that its manufacture has been for the present suspended.
From lenses to cameras the transition is easy. No decidedly novel feature in this department has been elicited, although, in connection with the changingbox, an improvement of an advantageous nature has been made by Mr. George Hare, the transference of a sensitive plate from the plate-box to the dark slide being effected by automatic mechanism which renders a “hitch” impossible.
As a mechanical aid to securing harmonious pictures the “split sunshade” of Canon Beechey will prove a step in the right direction. By having the flap composed of several piece, instead of one piece, any over-lighted portion of a landscape can be “stopped out” during a portion of the exposure.
A useful form of actinometer for regulation the exposures in carbon printing has been invented by Mr. H. J. Burton. From an intimate acquaintance with this instrument I gladly testify to its excellence, as well as to the ingenuity displayed in its construction. It was described, and an illustrative diagram given, in THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY last summer.
During the spring Mr. M. Carey Lea again increased in the indebtedness under which he has so often place photographers by describing, with great minuteness, a process he has work out to a successful issue. Premising that it is based on the dried-pellicle process of Mr. W. B. Bolton, and contains an iodide and chloride in addition to the bromide hitherto in use, and that Mr. Lea has discovered a simple method by which the iodide of silver can be made to enter into an emulsion with collodion, I refer the reader to the full details published in THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY for the 2nd April last.
This brief outline of the leading features of the past year would be incomplete were I to omit to record the passing away of some whose names were more or less known throughout the world:-Mr. O. G. Rejlander, who had made his mark as an artist; Mr. Thomas Sutton, an indefatigable experimentalist and journalist; Mr. Samuel Guppy, one of the oldest of amateurs; Mr. John Watkins, a well-known London professional portraitist; and Mr. John Atkinson, senior, one of the first to open a photographic warehouse in the kingdom, and the founder of the well-known establishment stilled carried on at Liverpool. To the above I may add the names of Mr. Henry Tesch, the Rev. J. Galloway Cowan, and Mr. F.R. Window.