Dry Plate Photography or the Tannin Process Made Simple and Practical for Operators and Amateurs 1865

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    1390 >RLF

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    GIFT OFGeorge Davidson1825-1911

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    1-annin

    PROFESSOR

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    DRY PLATE PHOTOGRAPHY;OR,

    THE TANNIN PROCESS,MADE SIMPLE AND PRACTICAL FOR OPERATORS AND

    AMATEURS,

    BY JOHN TOWLER, M. D. fPROFESSOR OP NATURAL PHILOSOPHY, MATHEMATICS, AND CHEMISTRY IN

    HOBART COLLEGE ; AUTHOR OP " THE SILVER SUNBEAM," THKAMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHIC ALMANAC," "THE PORCELAIN

    PICTURE," ETC. ; AND EDITOR OP " HUMPHREY'SJOURNAL OP PHOTOGRAPHY."

    ; Madidam vestem permutare.'

    JOSEPH H. LADD, PUBLISHER, No. 88 WHITE STREET.LONDON: TRUBNER & CO.

    1865.

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    Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by

    JOSEPH H. LADD,In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern

    District of New York.

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    TR

    TABLE OP CONTENTS.

    PAGE.INTRODUCTION . . . . 13

    CHAPTER I. PREPARING THE PLATES . . .21CHAPTER II. COATING THE PLATES WITH COLLODION 31CHAPTER III. SENSITIZING THE PLATES . . .41CHAPTER IV. EXPOSING, DEVELOPING, AND INTENSI-

    FYING THE PLATES ... 54CHAPTER V. CHANGING BOXES, ETC. LANDSCAPE

    PHOTOGRAPHY . . . .68CHAPTER VI. PREPARATION OF TRANSPARENT POSI-

    TIVES BY THE TANNIN PROCESS, ORCONTACT-PRINTING ON GLASS . 13

    CHAPTER VII: OPAL PICTURES, AND PHOTO-MINIA-TURES, BY THE DRY PROCESS . 84

    CHAPTER VIII. DRY AND WET PLATES, REQUIRING NOSILVER BATH ; OR, NEGATIVE PRO-CESSES, WITH COLLODIO-BROMIDE OFSILVER 92

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    INTRODUCTION.

    THE peculiar advantages of Dry Plate Photographyare but little understood by the ordinary photographicoperator ; and, when these advantages are understoodand recognized, there is a difficulty in withdrawing theartist from the general routine of the wet process,whose results are so easily and quickly obtained, flashout as it were in a moment for adoption or condemna-tion, to bestow his attention on a process whose resultsare invisible, and depend entirely upon the educatedexperience of the workman and the accuracy of hisworkmanship, a structure, in fine, built uponfaith.

    There is a striking analogy between the two pro-cesses, wet and dry, and the two modes of printing,direct solar printing and printing by development. Insolar printing albumen on paper, beneath a negative,the image appears gradually, and finally assumes allthe necessary vigor ; the operation of printing can bewatched, controlled, and pronounced finished when theeye is satisfied. With a small quantity of experiencethe eye becomes the sole guide. But with development-printing the image is invisible ; none of our senses canperceive its existence ; it is a latent image ; of this we 'are firmly convinced by an experience that has nevermet with an exception to the rule, we have therefore alively faith in the result ; in the latter case, therefore,experience and faith become our guides. They areequally our guides in dry plate photography.

    Nihil siccisfaucibus recte suscipitur, neque perficttur,I

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    14 INTRODUCTION.is an adage taken advantage of by the intelligent wetprocess advocates ; but adages, like nostrums, are notuniversal in their application ; times and circumstancesmodify all such deductions. The author of the follow-ing instructions in dry plate photography adheres tena-ciously to the wet process, admits its pre-eminence ingeneral practice ; but he is not only willing to recog-nize advantages peculiar to the dry process, and ap-plicable on certain occasions, but he recommends thisprocess as the only one to be adopted under the cir-cumstances in question.Whenever a wet plate becomes dry by evaporation,when exposed to the view, before the actinic impres-sion is complete, the dry process is to be preferred fromsheer necessity ; for the dry tannin plate may be ex-posed without deterioration for a whole day, a week,or a month, and until the necessary impression hasbeen obtained.The practical operator will find the dry process much

    more advantageous than the wet process in taking pho-tographs of public buildings, architectural structures,gentlemen's residences, country seats, farm houses,shipping, steam engines, machinery, monuments, infine, all works of art and beauties of nature in still lifein his own city or immediate neighborhood. Even ifthe operator should possess a portable tent,

    in the casesjust enumerated the dry plates are to be preferred inevery instance whenever a picture of a single building,etc., alone is required. The reason is almost self-evi-dent. To hug or drag a portable tent and camera tothe place in question ; to mount them on tripods foroperation ; to place the collodion bottle, the bottle con-taining the developer, the water bottle, and the bottleholding the fixing solution, each in order ; to expose,develop, fix, wash the plate, and stow it away in a safe

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    INTRODUCTION. 15

    place where no accident can befal it ; to pack up againall these paraphernalia and retrace, with bag and bag-gage, the homeward path all these operations contrastvery distinctly with that of carrying on the shoulder asmall camera already screwed to its tripod, and readyfor operation the moment the goal is attained. Thecamera is lowered, the view adjusted in focus, the pic-ture taken before an accumulation of human young-sters can stop up the aperture of the lens or diversifythe scene on the collodion plate with innumerable ghosts.The camera came and is gone before the inquisitivehave had time to ascertain the cause of your appearanceand departure.The same advantage is manifest on the side of dryplate photography whenever an indefinite number of

    views have to be taken in a city, each one remote fromthe rest. In this case the whole burden consists of acamera, tripod, and a changing box.The dry process, in the cases enumerated, requires

    but one operator. The wet process would require atleast two.The amateur photographer and the tourist will inva-

    riably give preference to the dry process. Even whilethe train stops at the station, or the steamboat at thelanding, the energetic tourist has time and facilities bythis process to carry away a picture, a visible reminis-cence of towns and harbors, which may serve to illus-trate his diary or give pictorial beauty to his corre-spondence. With the wet traps he can accomplishnothing of the kind ; neither the train nor the steamerwaits for any man beyond the appointed four or fiveminutes, which are quite sufficient for an actinic im-pression, but not to mount and remount a photographicdark chamber. While other indifferent travelers stepon shore or on land to straighten their legs or wet their

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    16 INTRODUCTION.whistles, our tourist, philosopher, and poet, with quickeye, has already discriminated the beauties he wishesto depict before he dismounts, now marches to the de-sired point, adjusts the lens to focus, counts the time,and is already again in his seat before his neighborshave had time to slacken their crural extensors ormodify their pharyngial passages. This is taking pic-tures on the wing.

    Finally, transparent positives, opal or porcelain pic-tures, transparent stereographs, and photo-miniaturesare very easily and beautifully prepared on dry plates,sometimes more easily than on wet plates, and in someinstances where it is impossible to take them at all bymeans of wet plates. To print on glass, that is, ondry plates, has become one of the most enchantingoperations in photography, as an evening recreation bygaslight. This light, or the light from a small piece ofburning phosphorus, or a few spirals of magnesiumwire, is quite intense enough to produce the requiredactinic effect on a dry plate in a few minutes. Dur-ing the summer season the season for trips andexcursions negatives accumulate to a great extent,and remain on hand unprinted until the dreary winterarrives, when nature lies buried in sepulchres, as itwere, clothed in white raiment, and when homes be-come irksome without employment ; now is the time,in the long evenings, with our wife and children arou