PDA

View Full Version : Guide to ID old photo types?



J. Smith
10-09-2005, 08:21 PM
Just bought my first antique photo,never thought I would,but this one seemed quite nice ,see pic. My Question , is there a good reference guide for recognizing the different types of period photos

David A. Goldfarb
10-09-2005, 11:01 PM
Look for the Witkin guide when it comes back in print in a new edition--

http://www.lorrainedavis.com/witkin.html

Hard to say what the print posted is just based on the scan. Lots of pencil work on the negatives is visible in the faces. Those kids are either seriously clamped down, or it's a 20th-century print.

medform-norm
10-10-2005, 02:29 AM
Look for the Witkin guide when it comes back in print in a new edition--

http://www.lorrainedavis.com/witkin.html

Hard to say what the print posted is just based on the scan. Lots of pencil work on the negatives is visible in the faces. Those kids are either seriously clamped down, or it's a 20th-century print.

Thanks David for yet another helpful link. Would you know of a similar book for identifying print processes for photos printed/reproduced in books dating between 1900 and 1970? So, not the print method for the originals, but for the cliches etc.

---

Hey, I didn't know people actually bought photographs like that. We've got tons of those stashed in boxes. You can get them here on fleamarkets and in antiques&trinkets&junk stores. Maybe I should start a business on eBay if our current line of work runs low....hmmm...got me thinking there.

athanasius80
10-10-2005, 04:11 AM
Pardon my ignorance David, but what are the telltale signs of pencil retouching on the neg? I agree the clothes look early 20th century.

David H. Bebbington
10-10-2005, 04:38 AM
Pardon my ignorance David, but what are the telltale signs of pencil retouching on the neg? I agree the clothes look early 20th century.
I personally can't see it in the screen image here, but in general pencil work would be applied to make older people's skin look [unnaturally] smooth and in the case of children and others to restore sharpness in faces lost through subject movement during long exposure times. If you look hard in these places and pencil work has been carried out, you should see it.

Easier to spot is pencil work on pre-World War I press pictures. These were very often retouched as prints to restore blurred detail, the photographers of the time seemed to think that the coarse reproduction of the time would not show up retouching and sometimes worked in a very crude way.

John Koehrer
10-10-2005, 10:47 AM
Kodak publication G-2S "Care and Identification of 19th Century Prints" by James M. Reilly Should provide you with a wealth of information on older prints. If you buy it used make sure it has the flow chart for identifying prints.

David A. Goldfarb
10-10-2005, 10:56 AM
Not even a child's skin looks that smooth in an unretouched photo of that vintage. The tonal values are higher than what the film would produce naturally under that lighting, so I'm fairly sure they've been pushed up a bit with some graphite, and as mentioned, there's probably a little sharpening going on with pencil and etching techniques. Check out the fingers on the baby's hands--no way to keep those still. They were a little more careless with the fingers on the older child's right hand, since it's more in shadow. That heart-shaped cowlick on the baby's head--probably defined with some etching.

It was just what made a portrait "professional" at the time.

J. Smith
10-10-2005, 07:02 PM
Thanks for all the interest.My junk shop finds are normally older cameras or gear that I can clean and use just to see what they can do. Old portraits of this type are a dime a dozen and I never buy them,but this one seemed to stand out.The print is 3 7/8 x 5 1/2. Here is a bit of a tighter scan

sionnac
10-13-2005, 12:00 PM
I second the recommendation of James M. Reilly's Care and Identification of 19th Century Photographic Prints (out of print) if you're thinking about collecting older material; great fold out chart, excellent resource for identifying processes....
Dana