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British Journal of Photography Almanac Annual Summary of Photographic Inventions and Events in Photographic History/1884

From George Eastman House : Notes On Photographs

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Edited by W. B. Bolton

Up to the moment these lines are written the year 1883 has been signalised by no events of any great moment, though the utmost activity has prevailed amongst all branches of photography, and considerable progress has been made in the practical acquaintance with gelatino-bromide plates. It is in the direction of discussion of old points rather than in the introduction of new ones that the work has lain. Chloride of silver emulsified in gelatine for positive-printing purposed has in this manner received attention; but, so far as concerns a new negative method introduced as a secret process on the continent, opinion is far from unanimous as to its value. Attempts have been made to resuscitate the now almost disused collodion emulsion process by increasing its sensitiveness, but so far with no practical result.

In the domain of printing little of importance has occurred of a novel character. Silver still appears to keep a firm hold upon the public for general work, though the platinotype process is running it hard in some quarters, and for certain classes of subjects. The artistic character of the results have been recognized even by those who deny to photographic productions the possibility of being artistic. A sepia tone is now obtainable in addition to many. Another style of printing-more especially adapted for enlargements-namely, gelatino-bromide paper, has made great strides not only in the direction of improvement, but also in popularity; while typographic printing has received at least its share of attention. The stannotype process of Mr. Woodbury also promises to take a good position.

Amongst the numerous application of photography to scientific purposes, perhaps none has proved of such incalculable benefit to science generally as its universal adoption in connection with astronomical observations. The success which attended the photographic observations of an eclipse of May 6th are of such a character as to have called for the approbation of Sir Thomas Huxley, in his opening address as President of the Royal Society; while no less important from the point of view of astronomical research have been Dr. Huggins’s triumphs in stellar photography, and his great feat of photographing the sun’s corona without the aid of an eclipse. Minor achievements have been recorded in the way of actual photographs of the sun, moon, stars, and comets, not the least of which is Mr. A. A. Common’s magnificent picture of the Nebula of Orion, which, to how the immense value of photography in this class of graphic work, has already gone far to resolve more than one knotty problem in astronomical science.

In another branch of applied photography unusual activity has prevailed, namely, in photomicrography, a vast amount of work having been this year reported. This is no doubt owing, at least indirectly to, if not immediately arising from, the wonderfully-improved facilities that the gelatine plate offers over the slower collodion it supersedes. In nearly every branch of medical science photomicrography is now a recognised instrument of research, and the records it is able to supply in different stages of complicated pathological investigations must prove of incalculable benefit, not only to medical science but to humanity in general.

No better proof cold be offered of the vast and rapid spread of photography as an amusement or as a profession than the remarkable large number of new societies that have sprung up in all quarters-not only in this country but throughout the globe. In Great Britain alone we can count no fewer than half-a-dozen new societies devoted to photography, namely, the North Staffordshire Photographic Association; the Coventry and Midland Photographic Society; the Glasgow and West of Scotland Amateur Photographic Association; the Yorkshire college Photographic Club; the Glossop Dale Photographic Association; and the Photographic Copyright Protection Association. In addition to these we are under the impression that one or two others are in existence, the modesty of whose members prevents their coming before the public.-It is not pleasant, amidst congratulations as to the advent of new photographic organizations, to have to record the demise of one society-the West Riding of Yorkshire Photographic Society-whose meetings have been held in Bradford. We deem it necessary to notice the last-named matter here, as the sheet in which the particulars of the societies appear have been printed off when we receive the intimation of the demise of that society. We trust to hear shortly of its being resuscitated, so that the active and flourishing town of Bradford may again have to boast of a well-sustained association for the promotion of our art-science.

Closely allied to the subject of societies is that of exhibitions. Here, too, there has been unusual activity, and, in addition to minor ones, the following societies have held exhibitions:-The Edinburgh Photographic Society, Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society, Newcastle and Northern Counties’ Photographic Association, and the Glasgow and West of Scotland Amateur Photographic Association. These have been held in this country’; while abroad, amongst others, the Association Belge de la Photographie and the Photographers’ Association of America have had their exhibitions. In addition to these an admirable collection of photographs was brought together, chiefly by members of the Liverpool Amateur Photographic Association at Southport. As we write there are still two exhibitions in prosectû so that the year 1883 will be able to claim justly that it has shown a busy time.

Death has again been busy in the photographic ranks during the current year, and the art-science has lost the services of such able toilers in its different fields of labour as Thomas Rodger, Frederick Southwell, Joseph Wake, and Phillip Remelé. Amongst others who will scarcely be less missed in the artistic and commercial phases of photographic work may be noted the names of C. G. Collins, T. J. Pearsall, Edgar Frith, William Keith, John Beattie, John Lessels, and Colin Sinclair.