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Thread: Opals

  1. #1
    Struan Gray's Avatar
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    Opals

    I stumbled on this from the Scientific American 1883:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11344...11344-h.htm#10

    Half way down is a wonderful description of the 'new' silver emulsions. It is interesting to see boosterism of Argento-Gelatinate photography in it's infancy - silver gelatin suffering from the same inferiority complex, and presumably, prejudice, as digital does today.

    I was also intruigued by the term 'Opal', which as far as I can make out means a print made onto opal glass, presumably to be backlit. It sounds a bit like the carbon transfer prints onto ceramic once common on gravestones, but the the 10x12" size and the supporting text suggest that these were for more general display.

    Do any of the history buffs here know what Opals were used for? I have never seen on in any kind of museum, so have they all broken or am I just looking in the wrong museums?

    Finally, does anyone make them today? There is a lab in Gothenburg who do colour-carbon onto glass prints, but they don't call them 'opals' or anything like it. Are any of the Civil War reenactment people into this?

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    I think a print on Opal glass would be like a transparency, for hanging in a window to be backlit. Opal glass is milky white. It would be like putting a b/w transparency on a light table. One would need to make a positive print on the glass.

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    copake_ham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Struan Gray View Post
    I stumbled on this from the Scientific American 1883:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11344...11344-h.htm#10

    Half way down is a wonderful description of the 'new' silver emulsions. It is interesting to see boosterism of Argento-Gelatinate photography in it's infancy - silver gelatin suffering from the same inferiority complex, and presumably, prejudice, as digital does today.

    .....
    Huh? Do we share the same time/space continuum?

    In these seeming "last gasp" days of Silver, I'm trying to fathom exactly what kind of "inferiority complex" and "prejudice" digis are "suffering" from?

  4. #4
    Struan Gray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by copake_ham View Post
    Huh? Do we share the same time/space continuum?
    Hard to tell. How many dimensions do you occupy?

    Quote Originally Posted by copake_ham View Post
    In these seeming "last gasp" days of Silver, I'm trying to fathom exactly what kind of "inferiority complex" and "prejudice" digis are "suffering" from?
    I've always been a bit slow, and I don't pay much attention to digicam chatter, so I'm quite happy to accept that my comment was soooooo 2002.

    The article writes about silver gelatin in a defensive and boosterish tone. It reminds me of how digicams are (ok, were) always described in terms of their ability to mimic or better film. No big deal.

    But what I really wanted to know is: has anyone here seen or handled an 'opal'. I accord with phototone in my assumptions, but I was hoping that in the history buffs among us might know for sure.

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    Opal Glass

    I have never seen one of these, hadn't heard of this until your post. There is a reference to the Opal Glass process with a short history and definition of the process at: { albumen.stanford.edu/library/c19/williams.html }. Sorry, dont' know how to do the link for quick access. Sounds from this article you are on the right track, check it out, very interesting. Dan

  6. #6
    Struan Gray's Avatar
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    Thanks Dan, from that article and the one it references on Toovytypes it seems fairly certain that A.Goodall (the demonstrator in my original link) was referring to an emulsion coated onto opal glass.

    I find it interesting that Goodall clearly does not think it necessary to explain what Opals were. To me, that implies they were a popular and widespread photographic product, even if only during some short-lived craze. It would be interesting to turn up some more information about what part of the market bought opals in preference to paper prints, and how they were displayed. It would also be interesting to see one or, better yet, make one.



 

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