Image "How was it done?" Question

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by philldresser, Nov 27, 2006.

  1. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    This is an old family image (Uncles Mother) from circa 1910. The remains of the image are on a heavy paper/card with the remnants of a postcard mark on the back.

    [​IMG]

    I really like the feel of the portrait and so would like anyones educated guesses on how it was produced, which process, camera, lens type etc would have been likely to have used

    Size is/was normal postcard size

    Thanks

    Phill
     
  2. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    Phil, can't help you in any way, shape or form but, I'd just like to say what a beautiful woman she was. Regards, Blights
     
  3. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    My guess is that it was contact printed on a contact printing paper such as Kodak Azo was. From what I've seen and read, this was quite a well used process in that era, especially for the post card photos.
     
  4. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Phil,

    I think the secret is more with the photographer than the equipment. The posing here is masterfully subtle. Look at the curves such as that formed by the shadow of the collar, the folding of the collar, the sweep of the hair, curve of the neck formed by the twist of her body and turn of the head, etc. The camera angle is low and thus probably deliberate. The background is lit to fade into the the foreground. This is a photograph of a beautiful woman by a photographer who has paid great attention to detail. It is remarkable in its nuance and effect.

    My guess is commonplace studio camera equipment of the period was simply used very carefully. That might have been something like a studio view camera with multiplying or reducing back and perhaps a lens such as a rapid rectilinear or anastigmat. A visit to http://www.cameraeccentric.com/ will reveal many equipment catalogs of the day.

    Joe
     
  5. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    My guess fwiw: Kodak 4a Studio camera with a Wollensak Velostigmat 12" used at f4.5 on 5X7 film. I'm gussing 12" at f4.5 because of the shallow depth of field. Still it is of the "smooth / sharp" persuasion which indicates an Anastigmat like the Wolly. A Heliar of 12 or 14" would look very similar.
     
  6. DannL

    DannL Member

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  7. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    If she is your uncle's mother, doesn't that make her your grandmother?
    If that is the case, have you inherited anything from her?
    I mean that in a normal way as I have my grandmothers (fathers side) body shape, but my grandfathers (mothers side) constitution.
    Genes are interesting when you have pictures of past members and can observe current family members for looks or traits.
    Mick.
     
  8. athanasius80

    athanasius80 Member

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    The lower portion of the image was probably also vignetted out.
     
  9. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Mick
    My Aunt(Fathers sister) is married to the son of this woman, which makes him my Uncle. No direct relationship though.
    I only met this Lady when she was in her early seventies so she looked quite different

    Phill
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    ortho film/plate, then hand colored/toned afterwords ...
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Assuming this photo was made in the UK, a lens like the one on the left here is far more likely: A Ross Cabinet No.2, a 14" f:3.5 Petzval lens. A post card is about "cabinet" size, and a 14" lens would give a good working distance to the sitter. The very good sharpness in a very limited area is also a hint that it might be a Petzval.

    The print could be albumen, collodion/silver, gelatin/silver POP, or even an early "gaslight paper". It's difficult to tell the difference on a PC screen.
     

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  12. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Thanks to all who have contributed.

    If this was on postcard stock coated with emulsion, how would they have acheived the toning (or is it just discolouration over the years)?

    Jim, I am keen to find a piece of glass that will provide this look. If you go back to our PM discussion regarding the old barrel lenses would I be on the right track?

    Phill
     
  13. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Hi Ole

    Image was definitely made in UK. Family was reasonably poor so I think it would have been done as 'cheap' as possible.

    Thats a nice selection of lenses you have thee

    Phill
     
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  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Phill,

    there were two basic "routes" to postcards in those days: Either through a mechanical print onto thick postcard stock, or an original print on very thin paper glued on the thicker paper. I don't know where the "balance" point would have been - for few copies, the mounted is cheaper, for large editions the graphic method would be cheaper.

    Assuming your uncle's mother was not a) rich, b) famous, or c) had about 300 relatives all over the world who all wanted pictures, I'd say the thin print mounted on thick paper is the most likely.

    I wonder if that could be a "wet-plate fingerprint" there in the left edge, just below eye level? Regardless, I don't think it's "ortho" film. I believe it must have been shot on an "ordinary" plate - blue and UV sensitive only. It's easiest to tell the difference with blue-eyed people, which this woman was not. :smile:
     
  16. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    I have had a good look at the paper and its a one piece print, i.e printed on the card with an emulsion not a seperate print thats been glued on.
     
  17. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Rich or not Phill, she has obviously taken a lot of care with her dress, make-up, and her hair to create the best possible picture; the rest being down to the photographer, who certainly knew his craft. Most people of her age would have had such a picture made, which would not have been cheap. They were circulated around the family, and most importantly exchanged with potential suitors.
    As an aside I have a similar one of my father, which he gave to my mother soon after he first met her with the throw away line hand written on the back “you may as well have this, I have plenty more”! which always amuses me.
    As for the technical details, I can’t help much except to surmise that it was almost certainly a contact print, and probably made on POP.
     
  18. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I do not think this was a cheap photograph.

    I'm not familiar with the fashions of 1910, but that looks like a costume, rather than everyday wear. A lot of care seems to have gone in to this image. It looks like it has been post processed with the photoshop of its day: a soft pencil on the back of the negative... Looks more like a publicity shot for an actress than a quick 1/- portrait.

    I think albumen had essentially died out before the turn of the century and either POP or "gaslight" papers were the in thing by this time.

    Cheers, Bob.

    P.S. At the V&A museum:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2006
  19. Jonathan Brewer

    Jonathan Brewer Member

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    I'll point out one thing that I've seen from being the custodian of my families heirlooms, I noticed that when the top of the image was inserted first into its sleeve, the bottom of the frame which is pointing toward the opening of the sleeve tends to fade first. I think this has happened to this image.

    'I think the secret is more with the photographer than the equipment.'.........................100% on the money, the most important technique of all is getting a smile/an emotion that is warm and/or legit.

    Her shoulders aren't squared off, in competition w/the framelines, which I think you can get away with once your inside the shoulders. The way the lighting hits the neck, looks absolutely right to me. She has deep inset eyes, but I don't find the shadows under her eyes objectionable,...........this image for me gets a 10 for the smile/emotional content, and a 10 for the way she was lit.
     
  20. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Yes- the fading in the lower portion of the image, while perhaps assisted by an original vignette, is more consistent with damage over time than with a strict vignette, which would have been most likely to be more consistent the whole way around the image on each border.
    I'm very fortunate to have inherited a gigantic family photo collection, spanning over a hundred years. We have a LOT of cabinet cards from the 1870s to early 1900s, and a good number of picture-postcard photos as well. Most of the images were preserved in albums or boxes and untouched or examined for the better part of forty years until my grandmother passed on. I've seen a lot of the postcard prints like that one- they were often very well photographed, like yours, and were intended to be inexpensive giveaways to family and friends. A good chunk of my family photos were taken in Wales, as that's where the family is originally from. If you can scan in a copy of the reverse and post it, I'll take a look at some of mine over the weekend and see if there are any other common features that might help identify the paper.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2006
  21. Jonathan Brewer

    Jonathan Brewer Member

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    OMT...........as I look at the image again, whatever the angle/distance from the illumination, it's perfect as it tails off and forms shadows along the ridges of her cheeks, along with the way the shadow forms on the neck, and selective focus, there's a tremendous sense of depth...................a heavyweight shot this.
     
  22. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    John

    I am drawn back to this image time and time again. I think it is wonderful and would love to have the technical ability to recreate the feeling. I am going to try and enlarge it and print it as a kallitype just for the fun of it.

    Thanks for the comments

    Phill
     
  23. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Make a good scan, desaturate all the color out, re-size it where you want it, invert it to neg, rotate 180 degrees horiz. and digitally print it on decent (not blotchy) paper. Then contact with your paper neg. Have fun.
     
  24. Jonathan Brewer

    Jonathan Brewer Member

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    Hey Phil, Hey Jim Galli...........................I marvel at the ability of some of these portrait photographers of 50-100 years ago, and because of the passage of time, most will never be known.

    That is a helluva smile.
     
  25. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    I spoke to my Uncle today. He reckons that the image is more like 1925. He remembers his mother telling him that her father had won a studio sitting as a prize at a local fete. It was possibly this one.

    Phill
     
  26. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    When I see the scans posted in the galleries here of the prints made from wet plates, I see a huge difference between them and the prints made from "conventional" negatives. The wet plate photos have a depth (best way I can describe it) to them that I can't see in prints made from conventional negatives.
    I see that same "depth" in this postcard and I wonder if it might have been some sort of glass plate negative?

    cheers