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British Journal of Photography Almanac Annual Summary of Photographic Inventions and Events in Photographic History/1886

From George Eastman House : Notes On Photographs

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Edited by W. B. Bolton

The year 1885, or so much of it as has passed when these notes are written, has been marked by nothing of a specially noteworthy character, unless it be the general tendency of invention to run in the direction of prepared sensitive papers for various purposes. In this respect the year may be considered almost revolutionary, for, though scarcely any novelty has been introduced into the manufacture of the sensitive material with which the paper is prepared, both in positive and negative work gelatino-chloride or gelatino-bromide papers seem destined to gain a footing in the place of processes and materials previously in vogue.

For several years past gelatino-bromide papers have been in general use for the enlarged positive purposes, and in that connection can scarcely be treated as novel. But in addition to their application to positive used, it is now some years since negatives were taken, experimentally, on the same paper. At the present time, however, a special negative paper is prepared, several firms having already entered the market in competition; and with the special apparatus also introduced for its more convenient use, there appears every probability that paper will shortly, to a very large extent, replace glass for negative work.

Another application of paper to positive work, though introduced last year, comes fairly within the scope of notice during the present, namely, the method of printing by development upon gelatino-chloride instead of upon the ordinary albumenised paper. With but a few seconds exposure to feeble daylight or to gaslight, prints of great beauty are obtained so closely resembling-if suitable developed and toned-the best albumen prints, that is requires an expert to detect the difference. The immense value of this process for winter use, or where large numbers of prints are required, will readily be estimated.

In negative processes but little has been done. The various methods of “isochromatic” or “orthochromatic”, photography have been carefully tried, and there can be no doubt but that this system of rendering colours in correct gradation to the eye when translated into monochrome, will prove to be one of the greatest aids in some special branches of photography.

Photo-mechanical printing methods show nothing new beyond an increased degree of excellence, due rather to improvements in practice than to novelties in method. It is satisfactory, however, to reflect that the rapidly widening sphere of the various photo-mechanical processes proves that their value is admitted outside the ranks of photography.

One feature of the year has been the successful International Inventions Exhibition at South Kensington, at which photography in its various branches was accorded a prominent place. The exhibition, however, took the form of more of a historical retrospect than a collection of very modern inventions: hence the photographic section presented no features of special novelty. In Pall Mall, the annual exhibition was fully up to the standard, both in quality and quantity; indeed, there was less indifferent work this year than usual.

We hear much of the influx of new workers into the ranks of photography; and if the formation of fresh societies be any criterion, the rumours must be correct. Not only in this country, but on the Continent and in America, the number of new societies constantly springing up is so great as to be bewildering, and we cannot even attempt to enumerate them. The principal new ones will, however, be found in the usual list of an assistance to those desirous of joining.

While the pages of last year’s volume were in the press, Death has his hand upon the one who had nursed THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY and its ALMANAC from their earliest infancy to vigorous maturity; and the ere the ALMANAC for 1885 was in the hands of its readers, Henry Greenwood had closed his busy life. How heavily the loss fell upon us for a time, those only know who were personally acquainted with him, and understood the almost love he bore for both publications, and the incessant labour he devoted to their success. Amongst other victims since our last announcement are Alderman Nottage (Lord Mayor); W. B. Woodbury; Joseph Sidebotham, F.R.S.; J. Dudley Radcliffe; and W. D. Sanderson-all well known in one or other of the many branches of photography. In the past year’s sad record we find representatives of the literary, commercial, inventive, scientific, amateur, and professional classes-a more than usually impartial selection.