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  1. #1
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    Glass plate negative questions

    I went to an art exhibit this weekend where they had many digital prints made from what they said were original glass plate negatives shot during the 1930 discovery/robbing of King Tut's tomb. I don't know anything about glass plate negatives, but I had assumed that into the 1930s, they would be using nitro film. During what time period was silver-gelatin-on-glass in widespread use for commercial photography? When did film start to take over? I imagine that glass negatives can be printed just like film negatives, probably even easier because they are flat. But are there any other differences in technique compared to film? I suppose you need a special camera for glass as opposed to film negatives.

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Glass plates were still in use in the 50's & 60's. Looking in 1930's publications all the manufacturers offered a wide range of plates while film tended to be mainly limited to smaller sizes.

    It's probably the invention of Safety film and the wide scale adoption of the International darkslides that heralded the switch from plates to film. If you look at early negative the nitrate film is not as sturdy as modern film base and would not have been suitable for larger sizes.

    Ian

  3. #3
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    And you didn't need a different camera, per se, only a ground glass assembly that accepted glass plate holders. Here I am talking past tense. There are many who still pour and shoot glass plates. Our mag just had a special issue a couple of months ago on the subject.
    Last edited by Christopher Walrath; 05-18-2009 at 10:37 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  4. #4

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    Here's a link that shows many of Burton's photographs (an others) of the excavation.

    http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/4tut.html

    http://heritage-key.com/egypt/harry-...and-his-camera
    Last edited by DannL; 05-18-2009 at 11:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Lo único de lo que el mundo no se cansará nunca es de exageración." Salvador Dalí

  5. #5
    dwross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    I went to an art exhibit this weekend where they had many digital prints made from what they said were original glass plate negatives shot during the 1930 discovery/robbing of King Tut's tomb. I don't know anything about glass plate negatives, but I had assumed that into the 1930s, they would be using nitro film. During what time period was silver-gelatin-on-glass in widespread use for commercial photography? When did film start to take over? I imagine that glass negatives can be printed just like film negatives, probably even easier because they are flat. But are there any other differences in technique compared to film? I suppose you need a special camera for glass as opposed to film negatives.
    The glass negatives that Burton used were gelatin dry plate negatives. 'Glass negative' can also refer to wet plate collodion negatives (I believe Chris is referring to these when he says there are many who still pour and shoot glass plates.) As opposed to collodion photography, you don't need much in the way of special equipment for gelatin dry plates. You will need a plate holder, but they are easily made from old wooden film holders.

    Enlarging for printing is identical as with film negatives, with the flatness benefit you pointed out. My 4x5 plates fit perfectly in my 4x5 negative carrier. I run into trouble with 5x7 because my holder is a glass carrier a half inch larger in both dimensions. I have set a 5x7 plate on the glass like I would a negative and the glass cover sheet. Works fine except for perhaps just a hint of light bounce.

    There's more info on dry plate photography here:
    http://www.thelightfarm.com/Map/DryP...PlatePart1.htm

    Hope you give it a try!
    d

  6. #6
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    I printed a bunch of vintage 11x14 glass plate negs a while ago. Surprisingly a couple negs had flatness issues and I was unable to print them sharp, as I wasn't using a vacume. (however you spell vacume) I was just clamping the negs down to the paper on top of another piece of plate glass that I know is flat. I was unable to get a couple of the prints sharp in areas regardless of how much I clamped it, the glass was just too warped.

    In Rolleiflex lore the camera was created when Kodak figured out how to put film on rolls but it wasn't good enough for a lot of photographers. So Rollei created a plate glass back as an accessory. If anyone cares.

  7. #7

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    tmax 100 dry plates were available commercially
    until just a few years ago. they cost about 4x as much as
    sheet film ...
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  8. #8
    dwross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    tmax 100 dry plates were available commercially
    until just a few years ago. they cost about 4x as much as
    sheet film ...
    Luckily for us, today, we can make ULF plates for less cost than ULF film .

    Dennis: I'm pretty sure you would have good luck contact printing your old plates if you used a contact printing frame. They really are necessary for sharp printing. A sheet of glass just doesn't have the weight required. It might work for a process where a bit of softness isn't a distraction, but not so much with gelatin papers (in my opinion, of course). The rub is that you need a frame that's exactly the size of your plate. The plate replaces the glass. The old contact printing frames did just that. All the modern frames seem to be an inch longer in both dimensions to meet modern printing habits ( i.e. a frame advertised as 11 x 14 is really 12 x 15). You can look for antique frames or you can make your own from a sturdy wooden picture frame, 1/2" plywood, thick felt, and metal straps for press-downs.

    If anyone knows of a commercial source for new frames exactly the dimensions of the various standard plate formats, I love to hear about it.

    Denise

  9. #9
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Hi Denise, when I first started printing platinum I used a printing frame with the spring clips and just couldn't get good contact every where. I was stuffing sheets of foam or mat board or anything I could to force the film to stay in tight contact and just had bad luck. I switched to using 1/4" plate glass on top and bottom and clamps all along both sides and got much tighter contact with film and paper. I keep the glass sandwich close to the paper size. I really don't think there is a better way except with the vacuum.
    Dennis

  10. #10

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    I have often wondered why more people appear attracted to wet plate collodion negatives than to making gelatin dry plate negatives. Is there some special image quality in the wet plate collodion negative, or is it just more difficult to get an even coating with dry plate negatives?

    Sandy King





    Quote Originally Posted by dwross View Post
    The glass negatives that Burton used were gelatin dry plate negatives. 'Glass negative' can also refer to wet plate collodion negatives (I believe Chris is referring to these when he says there are many who still pour and shoot glass plates.) As opposed to collodion photography, you don't need much in the way of special equipment for gelatin dry plates. You will need a plate holder, but they are easily made from old wooden film holders.

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