PDA

View Full Version : Workflow fo 1800's studios.



RPippin
14-Sep-2015, 10:51
I'm curious about the workflow do the photographic studios of the 1800's particularly the 1850's. The old photographs we find in antique and junk shops all around have a wonderful look to them and they are in an abundance, at least around here in Virginia. What I'm curious about is how the photographers worked back then. All the images seem to be around the same size, around 6X9cm, have some sort of mounting that has the studio name embossed into it and have a very warm tone. I know they used everything from albumen to calotype processes, and I'm wandering about readily available papers and materials they might have used. I do what we call alternative processing myself, with Kallitype and Platinum/Palladium and have first hand experience with hand coating paper, but I'm sure a studio during that time period must have had a quicker and more efficient way of producing an image for their clients. With the wealth of knowledge out there from you guys, someone should be able to point me in the right direction. Thanks

bob carnie
14-Sep-2015, 11:57
About 1840 -1850 a lot of processes became very important, the process I use applied colour gum over palladium was around that time, I am curious as well to this period of time and the expansion of print making materials.

goamules
14-Sep-2015, 12:23
Wetplate studios used several people. The photographer operated the camera and talked to the customer sitting. The operator poured the plates, put them in the holders, and brought them to the sitting room. The photographer simply got the sitters comfortable and holding still. I'm sure the operator also took the exposed plate back to develop it. The nice thing is the finished plate could be ready in a half hour.

For consistency, remember they were using the same studio seating, camera, and largely the same skylight lighting and backgrounds. In bigger NY studios they were shooting several times a day, so everything was very understood. Which is good, because wetplate chemistry changes daily, as it ages. If you look at a good studio portrait (not the guys shooting out of a wagon in a tiny town out West, they got outstanding results. Look as some of the portraits of Civil War generals, for example.

Jim Noel
14-Sep-2015, 13:09
Readily available papers, etc?
No, the best paper was the extremely light weight stationery. Nominally something well under what we call 20 lb.

tgtaylor
14-Sep-2015, 13:46
In 1840 to 1850 there were two photographic processes: the Daguerreotype and the Caliotype/Salted Paper. Both were superceeded ~ 1855 by the Albumin process which was a refinement of the Salted Paper. The albumin process was dominate until it was replaced by the modern silver gelatin process of today. A brief introduction to the origins of photography can be found on my website below. The book Origins of American Photography: From the Daguerreotype to the Dry Plate 1835 - 1885, is an excellent Introduction to the subject with abundant references.

Thomas

blueribbontea
14-Sep-2015, 14:12
also see http://albumen.conservation-us.org/library/monographs/reilly/chap2.html
The Albumen and Salted Paper Book , for some detailed descriptions.

goamules
14-Sep-2015, 14:56
Oh, sorry, I didn't read the OP's question was about printing, not just the plates/negatives. For that, Albumen was very common, you can still find the printing contact frames. They'd put them up on the roof, for the long exposure time in the sun.

Mark Sawyer
15-Sep-2015, 10:37
In 1840 to 1850 there were two photographic processes...

There were a lot more than two...

aluncrockford
15-Sep-2015, 11:45
The photograph of Fox Talbot's studio in Reading gives a fairly good overview

http://www.edinphoto.org.uk/1_p/1_photographers_talbot_smm_printing_establishment.htm

bob carnie
15-Sep-2015, 13:14
I thought so too but this is not an area of expertise of mine and I would like to here more.


On a very commercial/ marketing point of view... My new location is 1840 Danforth Ave Toront.. I would like to play on the origin dates of printmaking and my location if I can.



There were a lot more than two...

Mark Sawyer
15-Sep-2015, 15:14
I thought so too but this is not an area of expertise of mine and I would like to here more.


On a very commercial/ marketing point of view... My new location is 1840 Danforth Ave Toront.. I would like to play on the origin dates of printmaking and my location if I can.

Well, things started with Nicéphore Niépce in the 1820's, but that's too early. Hippolyte Bayard announced his process about the same time as Talbot and Daguerre, and in the early 1840's, Sir John Herschel created Cyanotypes, Chrysotypes (a gold-based process), Phytotypes (based on light sensitive vegetable oils), and an early version of platinum printing. Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor (nephew of Nicéphore Niépce) created albumen-on-glass negatives (Niépceotypes) in 1847...

blueribbontea
15-Sep-2015, 22:07
But isn't the OPs question more directly about the early commercial studios? The platinum process didn't really go commercial till the 1870s, but there were manufacturers of albumen and collodian papers before then, which WERE used by studio photographers and purchased from commercial suppliers. A studio could employ quite a few people depending on the quantity of its business and a large scale business could not rely on all handmade printing paper even in the wet plate days. Since the early American portrait studios were dagguerotype it would be interesting to find a description of the workflow, who was coating the copper plates, who was processing them and so on. For example, was it a typical Master and his Apprentices? Or were most of the studios one man shops?

blueribbontea
15-Sep-2015, 22:14
I've got a couple portraits on a thin silver paper glued to a cardboard embossed with the studio name from a couple locations in England and the prints seem to be toned. No dates but they look to be 1850s or 60s judging by the dress, very slick products. Someone took the photo, processed the plate, made the print, did the toning, trimmed and glued the print to the board, which was probably manufactured at another shop. And one fo the prints looks like it has been heavily retouched. That's workflow. How many someones were involved is the intriguing mystery.

tgtaylor
16-Sep-2015, 01:57
Well, things started with Nicéphore Niépce in the 1820's, but that's too early. Hippolyte Bayard announced his process about the same time as Talbot and Daguerre, and in the early 1840's, Sir John Herschel created Cyanotypes, Chrysotypes (a gold-based process), Phytotypes (based on light sensitive vegetable oils), and an early version of platinum printing. Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor (nephew of Nicéphore Niépce) created albumen-on-glass negatives (Niépceotypes) in 1847...

Things started well before the 1820's. Thomas Wedgewood probably made salt prints with the camera obscura in the 1790's but things with his process didn't take-off until he teamed-up with Humphry Davies after the turn of the century. See my website for a brief introduction on the origins of photography and the salt print.

It's important to note that a lot of people were or had been experimenting with light sensitive materials especially silver nitrate and Talbot no doubt took advantage of those researches - a sort of "standing on the shoulders of giants" thing. Working independently of Talbot and Daguerre Hippolyte Bayard discovered the process about the same time as Talbot but was dissuaded from announcing. I believe that his process was essentially the same as Talbot's. Herschel was a prolific researcher making discovery after discovery in many fields and was never devoted to any one of them in particular. For example he discovered "fix" in 1819 but practical use of that discovery wasn't used until he informed Talbot of it in 1839. Similarly he discovered the iron (cyanotype) process in 1842 but by then the Daguerreotype was the process universally employed in the commercial studios with salted paper/caliotype becoming popular among the amateurs. The cyanotype process was put to use illustrating an 1843 book by Anna Atkins illustrating plant life but was not a process employed in the studios of the time. The two processes that were employed during the 1840's to mid 1850's are the daguerreotype and the salted paper/calotype. The albumin process is a refinement of the salted paper process.

Thomas

RPippin
16-Sep-2015, 06:30
Thanks, Bill, for bringing the discussion back around. This all started when I was talking with Dave at the Camera Heritage Museum here in Staunton about some Kallitype prints I had made. We were talking about the processes used in the 1800's and he was showing me an image taken by a studio of John Wilkes Booth, which dates it to the mid part of the century. Calotype printing done in this period isn't the same as Kallitype printing we do today. We are doing a show at the Richmond Folklife Festival this coming October on traditional and historic processes, complete with portable darkroom, studio setting and will be shooting portraits with 5X7 direct positive paper. We make no claims that this is how things were done back then, but will have fun with it none the less. When questions come up about the workflow and processes used in the mid 1800's I at least would like to sound like I know what I'm talking about.

tgtaylor
16-Sep-2015, 09:53
I've got a couple portraits on a thin silver paper glued to a cardboard embossed with the studio name from a couple locations in England and the prints seem to be toned. No dates but they look to be 1850s or 60s judging by the dress, very slick products. Someone took the photo, processed the plate, made the print, did the toning, trimmed and glued the print to the board, which was probably manufactured at another shop. And one fo the prints looks like it has been heavily retouched. That's workflow. How many someones were involved is the intriguing mystery.

aluncrockford's link to the photo of Talbot's studio above shows the manpower of the typical commercial studio of the time: 3 camera operators - Talbot himself being one of them - and 5 assistants engaged in various chores. Some studios employed many more workers and some less. The commercial studios were practically all daguerreotype studios with the amateurs embracing the calotype/salt paper process.

A kallitype is not a calotype - the latter referring to a negative. Again, see my website for an introduction to this period in photography and the book I referenced above for further detailed information on the photographers and methods of the times.

Thomas