Sign of the times?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Daniel Grenier, Sep 2, 2003.

  1. Daniel Grenier

    Daniel Grenier Member

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    I saw something yesterday that was many things at once: Comical, pathetic, odd, stupid, and just weird. My wife and I were visiting one of those "Historical Villages" (a la Williamsburg) where all sorts of period buildings are on display and showcased as if you were back in the 1860s. One of those buidldings, a preppy white house, was the "Photographers Home and Place of Business". Of course, the idea was to show what an 1860 photo studio looked like. And, for a small fee, visitors can dress up in period costumes and have their portraits taken "just like in 1860". The "view camera" was set up in the parlour and people were dressing up to have their photo taken etc... The "view camera" in question is the actual item of contemption in that what they have is an old - and real - 8x10 view camera. However, the film holder/standard has been removed and tucked away within the bellows (for all to see acually), is one of those fancy Canon digitals!!! The "View Camera"'s lensboard has been cut out to accomodate the Canon's lens. Below this, the "Photographer", dressed also in 1860 garb, drives the thing with a less than well hidden computer. Seconds later, an "Albumen Print" is spitted out from an also not-so-well-hidden printer. And VOILA! Your very own period portrait, just like they did in 1860!!! The whole mess is a badly mangled attempt at reproducing a real 1860s view camera set up. What a JOKE!!! The whole thing just struck me as very stupid and really ticked me off as a photography enthusiat and view camera owner/practitionner!!! Of course, I understand the WHYs... but the whole scene what just SAD!!! The recreation of the 1860 period was only carried so far. Too bad there wasn't a real camera with real Collodion plates and real Albumen prints.... Ahhhhhh the "good old days".... Hell, I'd pay good money to get my picture taken. Oh well, a sign of the times?
    Thanks for listening to me vent folks! I feel better now.

    BTW, go to the Technical Gallery to see my new 8x10 All-Copper View Camera. It's a beauty... :smile:
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    A sign indeed - of the impatience of people. Real collodion plates might not be commercially viable, but there must be better solutions?

    A less glaringly fake way would be to shoot 8x10 (4x5 would be closer to "authentic" size) type 55, by which a REAL albumen print could be produced in about half an hour. But I guess that is far too long to wait?
     
  3. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    It was an fake photo of fake antique people.
    Don't people buy 'homemade food' in restaurants?

    If there's someone willing to pay, there will be someone willing to get the money.

    Jorge O (the skeptic)
     
  4. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    Well, the digicam they were using must have been around 3 months old, so if you factor in the rate at which digicams become obsolete, a 3 month old digicam = 140 yr. old traditional camera. So in a twisted kind of way, I'd have to say the photos are authentic. :wink:

    P.S. moved the copper camera pic to the "Non-Gallery Pictures" image gallery.
     
  5. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    ACtually they could easily make tintypes. Tintypes are very fast to make and until recently (and who knows maybe still in some obscure corner of the planet) were commonly used as cheap, fast, easy portraits. In fact the standard setup was a camera that then allowed the exposed plate to drop into the standard developer/stop/fixer series. All self contained and very popular.

    And dirt cheap.
     
  6. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    Robert

    I remember seeing these (mostly old) guys with a viewcamera in public places taking people's portraits when I was a kid. Long gone.
    Could you pls explain what's a tintype (I've always been curious how they did it)

    Thanks,

    Jorge O
     
  7. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Well... here goes. From the "Encyclopedia of Photography", p 1738:

    "Then in 1851, an English sculptor, Frederick Scott Archer (1813-1857), discovered that collodian, a viscous solution of gum cotton in alcohol and ether, when spread upon a glass plate, dried to form a thin tough skin. Archer mixed iodide with the collodian and poured it over a glass plate. He plunged the coated plate while it was still tacky into a solution of silver nitrate. The plate was put into the camera before it had dried, was exposed, and developed at once (no indication of what the developer was - I would imagine it involved subjecting the wet pale to fumes of mercury heated to 167 deg. F, and fixing with sodium thiosulfate). The new technique soon replaced both the daguerreotype and the calotype, and until 1880 was the universal way of making negatives."

    Continuing, from page 1740:

    "A rather specialized use of the wet plate was for making direct positives, called in America "ambrotypes". A negative was laid aganst a black background and made to appear positive. This was a quick way of delivering finished portraits, for sitters did not have to wait until prints were made. They resembled daguerreotypes and were often confused with them. Exactly the same technique was used to make "tintypes" or as they were first called, "ferrotypes," except that thin sheets of iron jappaned black were used instead of glass."


    Interesting. The wet plate had to remain wet through the entire process, thus the travelling camera-darkroom (a tent on a tripod) was necessary for wet plate photography outdoors.
     
  8. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    Thanks, Ed

    Jorge O
     
  9. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    Daniel - Too bad about the experience. There are "real" reenactors that will do the entire American Civil war thing to excruciating detail. I photographed in period dress with my 5x7 View Camera. While I did feel like a fraud using TMAX 400 and printing in platinum, there are other photographers out there that take alternative processes to the next level. Check out this site http://www.cwreenactors.com/collodion/index.php