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British Journal of Photography Almanac Annual Summary of Photographic Inventions and Events in Photographic History/1896

From George Eastman House : Notes On Photographs

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Edited by J. Traill Taylor

This year has been somewhat fertile in the development of those special features in lenses which depend upon the utilisation of the properties of the optical glass of Jena. Opticians of Germany, Austria, England, and America now vie with each other in the production of photographic lenses of the greatest excellence, and which until the advent of the glass mentioned was impossible of being attained. This may be briefly summed up as flatness of field coupled with perfect correction for achromatism and astigmatism. Some particulars respecting the more recently introduced of these will be ascertained for the Epitome of Progress on other pages.

The recent discovery of the production of acetylene on a commercial basis can scarcely fail in forming a most powerful factor in obtaining cheap and excellent illumination when once the best conditions for burning it have been ascertained. Already several patents have been obtained for lamps in which to burn it with the requisite proportion of atmospheric air, for it is too rich to be used alone. It is too soon yet to predicate in what direction the best conditions lie, but there is little doubt that another year will have seen this nearly, if not fully, determined.

Attempts are being made to popularise collodio-chloride printing-out paper, and present appearances point to the probability of its being largely adopted. Undoubtedly collodion as a vehicle for the sensitive silver salts possesses advantages claimed on behalf of no other body.

Much attention has been devoted to half-tone work, and the theory of the shape and formation of the dot in the production of the negatives has elicited many valuable communications for Eder, Gamble, Burton, and other authorities. The process itself has been submitted to severe criticism in many quarters, a disposition being here and there evinced to revert to wood-engraving. Engraved half-tone blocks are, however, securing increased adoption, and are certainly a step in the right direction.

Continued prosperity attends the work of the Royal Photographic Society which is rapidly increasing its membership, while the Photographer’s Copyright Union has proved of great service, on more than one occasion, in defending the rights of photographers against those prone to infringe their copyrights. The number of photographic societies is still on the increase.

No new advances are to be chronicled with regard to colour photography; but chromo-collotypy and allied processes are receiving marked attention in several quarters.

The meeting of the Convention held at Shrewsbury was a pronounced success; a remark also applying to the annual exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society and the Salon. Failure, however, was the characteristic of the exhibitions organized by the Imperial Institute.

The death roll includes the names of Alexander Ayton, jun. (November 23rd, 1894); R.L. Kidd (December 1st, 1894); Fritz Luckhart (Vienna); Richard Keene (December 6th, 1894); H. Fourtier (Paris); F. J. Vergara; W. W. Drinkwater (February 27th, 1985); George Smith of the Sciopticon Company (March 19th); Wm. Ackland (March 30th); B.J. Sayce (May 23rd); M Auty, Tynemouth (July 29th); T. G. Whaite, formerly of Carlisle (July 21st); R. Slingsby, Lincoln (August 16th); R. Urie, Glasgow; J. Duncan, York; Charles Whiting (October 6th); and Vernon Heath (October 25th). A heavy list, containing the names of many who had identified themselves with the rise and progress of modern photography.