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British Journal of Photography Almanac Annual Summary of Photographic Inventions and Events in Photographic History/1878

From George Eastman House : Notes On Photographs

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Edited by J. Traill Taylor

The principle directions in which advance has been made during the past year have been in the perfecting of minor details and promoting improvements in those two great departments of negative photography, namely, Bolton’s washed collodion emulsion process and Maddox’s gelatino-bromide process. In both of these materials progress has been made, warranting the conclusion that in them will be found the great future of our art-science. For a long period these processes had unsuccessfully to contend against the superior sensitiveness of wet collodion; but at the termination of the year 1877 it is found that in no respect, whether in sensitiveness or art qualities, do these now necessarily occupy a subordinate position when compared with the older wet collodion process. While various improvements have been made in the method of freeing collodion and gelatine emulsions from the crystallized salts, resulting form the method by which they are necessarily prepared (certain of which are published for the first time in our present volume), the last objection to the employment of gelatine-that is, the long time it has hitherto taken to dry-has been obviated by a method of preparation described in these pages; while by the addition of alcohol, oil of cloves, and other antiseptics, the keeping qualities of a gelatine emulsion may now be extended over several months.

Carbon printing is in a flourishing condition, the high quality and undoubted permanence of the carbon enlargements that have for the last few years been supplied to the public have had their effect, at least, in so educating the public that, for works involving a large expenditure and the labour of an artist, the move intelligent classes look for a permanent basis, and will not be satisfied with less. Certain improvements in the preparation of tissue, and other matters connected with carbon printing, for the subject for which a patent has been recently granted to Mr. J. R, Johnson.

While the branch of optical science which is connected with photography remains quiescent, those branches connected with its not less important chemical and philosophical phases are more active. Mr. H. B, Berkeley, Captain W. d. W. Abney, Mr. L. Warnerke, and others have by their investigations recently contributed much to our information in the latter department; while in the manufacture of photographic chemicals a new process for preparing hyposulphite of soda has recently been published. The hyposulphite developer of M. Sammann entitles that gentleman to rank among those who have adopted anew line of research.

In the mechanical department of photography a leveling top for the camera stand, and a camera possessing the means of holding a plate in either a vertical or horizontal position, exhibited at a meeting of the South London Photographic Society, by Mr. J. L. Lane, are worthy of notice. The same may also be said of a folding camera, invented and patented by Mr. W.B. Woodbury, which packs up in a very convenient form.

In demonstrative photography a “duplex” lantern for exhibiting dissolving views by means of only one light has been introduced by Mr. Keevill; it has been publicly tried, and has proved to be an undoubted success. Several ingenious appliances for the production of oxygen have been introduced by Messrs. Noton, Young and Chadwick, of Manchester, by whose respective inventions and applications in this direction important simplifications have been secured.

An old suggestion of glazing the studio with violet glass was revived at the commencement of the past year; but it does not appear to have been received with much favour, and has again gone into a state of desuetude. Towards the close of the year efforts have been made to reintroduce the practice of subjecting a partially-exposed plate to feeble radiations from, or through, a coloured medium. Articles on this subject will be found in the present volume.

In the application of colours to photography by purely chemical means no advance has been made during the past year; but in the mechanical application of pigments a great deal has been done. First of all, M. Leon Vidal has still further perfected his method of obtaining photochromes, his more recent results being most effective. The application of colour to prints produced by the Woodburytype process has also received a further development through the instrumentality of a new method of print in colours introduced into this country by Mr. Meyerstein, under the name of “stenochromy” the combination of which with Woodburytypes produces results of a most pleasing and natural character. In a similar direction, a process of applying colours, by hand, to the back of a paper photograph-which several years since was practiced by a few, and respecting which much was written at the time-has been revived within the past few months, a patent having been obtained for it by a foreign artist. It consist in applying a certain kind of varnish to the picture, which by this means is rendered transparent, and then applying colours on the back which will thus appear as if they had been applied to he face of the picture. The photograph acquires the appearance of an old oil painting. There is so much in this process that is commendable that it is to been hoped it will not again be lost to sight.

The method of precipitating emulsions advocated by M. Chardon, and which differs in detail from that previously adopted by Mr. M. Carey Lea, is likely to find much favour among those who practise Bolton’s washed emulsion process. It consists in pouring the emulsion in a fine stream of water, by which the pyroxyline is precipitated as a granulated powder quite free from the solvents, or from any soluble salts present. This powder is then collected, dried, and stored away in the dark ready to be dissolved in either and alcohol as it is wanted.

A certain method of imparting a permanent tint to carbon pictures has been patented by Sir Thomas Parkyns, but up to the time of our going to press the specification had not been published. The effects produced are varied.

The weight and fragility of glass, as a medium upon which to take negatives, has led several skilful experimentalists to inquire into the most suitable materials with which to replace it in the emulsion processes. Their endeavours to supersede glass plates are fast being crowned with success.

During the year death has removed from us one “man of mark”-Mr. Fox Talbot; while others, perhaps less well known, namely, Sir Henry James, Mr. W. G. Hunter, Mr. Joseph Durham, A.R.A., and Mr. A. McGlashan have also been taken from the photographic ranks.