PDA

View Full Version : Great great Grandma's negatives



catrackgraphics
28-Nov-2015, 08:06
I inherited more than 200 of my great great grandmother's glass negatives. Mary M. West was the only female photographer in Bradford, Pennsylvania from 1870 to 1906. She moved to the area with her photographer husband, Jacob, and broke off from him in 1896 with her own studio. She was know in town for her photographs of women and children. The personal negatives that I inherited include photos of her grandchildren, family and many landscapes.

I have been doing historical research on her for years and have now been researching what it took to be a photographer during this period. I have just discovered that she belonged to the Photographer's Association of America and attended the convention in Celoron, New York. I am pretty sure that one of her negatives is a photo of Fitz W. Guerin, who was the associations president at the time.

I purchased a professional flat bed negative scanner and wide format printer to produce prints, and I am amazed at the amount of detail that the negatives contain.


142744

142745

Any suggestions of how to get the most out of her negatives is greatly welcome.

Michael E
28-Nov-2015, 09:10
Any suggestions of how to get the most out of her negatives is greatly welcome.

What do you want to get out of the negatives? Resolution? Tonal scale? Appreciation? Knowledge? Income?

I understand your excitement about the images. 200 plates from that era are a very interesting find. If they are connected to your family, even more so.

Michael

Jim Noel
28-Nov-2015, 09:27
Contact print them on silver chloride paper from Michael and Paula.

catrackgraphics
28-Nov-2015, 10:18
What do you want to get out of the negatives? Resolution? Tonal scale? Appreciation? Knowledge? Income?

I understand your excitement about the images. 200 plates from that era are a very interesting find. If they are connected to your family, even more so.

Michael

I am working on a book about her and will be including her photographs. I would love to have a display of her collection at the local university in Bradford during their old home week also.

JeRuFo
28-Nov-2015, 11:00
Do you have any prints made by/for her? That might give you an idea pf what she had in mind. Too often you see old negatives reproduced in a very factual and flat way. I think a print like she would have envisioned it would do her work more justice. This would be even easier if you have the negative to go with the print.

Jac@stafford.net
28-Nov-2015, 11:17
Contact print them on silver chloride paper from Michael and Paula.

Good idea. Anything digital in the path to print can interfere. It is unlikely she had the kind of control we might attempt with a scan, or that a digital device might impose without our knowledge.

catrackgraphics
28-Nov-2015, 11:17
Do you have any prints made by/for her? That might give you an idea pf what she had in mind. Too often you see old negatives reproduced in a very factual and flat way. I think a print like she would have envisioned it would do her work more justice. This would be even easier if you have the negative to go with the print.

I have prints that she did, but they are portraits, I don't know that anyone ever saw the landscapes that she took.

catrackgraphics
28-Nov-2015, 11:20
Contact print them on silver chloride paper from Michael and Paula.

What would it take to do these type of prints? I don't have a darkroom and developing equipment.

Bruce Barlow
28-Nov-2015, 12:43
Contact print them on silver chloride paper from Michael and Paula.

+1

I did that with some glass negs a few years ago. It was really fun to do, and the prints were marvelous.

If your bathroom has no windows, the trays go in the bathtub, the paper and neg on a piece of plywood you set on the toilet, with a lightbulb overhead. Then sit on the floor or an upended 5 gallon bucket. It's a variation of what Edward Weston did with silver chloride paper. The paper is really slow, and even with a bulb you'll have multiple second exposures, so changes are easy and pretty forgiving. Use a metronome as a timer, and cover and uncover the paper with a piece of cardboard. You'll get the hang of it in about ten minutes.

Most of all, have fun.

jp
28-Nov-2015, 13:47
Scanning's fine and useful but the silver chloride paper would be a traditional continuation which would not be difficult to do.

Sal Santamaura
28-Nov-2015, 13:48
Contact print them on silver chloride paper from Michael and Paula.That's probably the best one can do today. It's likely the scale of those glass negatives is more suited to printing out paper, but alas, I'm unaware of any being made since HARMAN ended production when it acquired Kentmere.

Sirius Glass
28-Nov-2015, 13:50
Welcome to Large Format Photography Forum

Rick A
28-Nov-2015, 17:07
I live about an hour from the OP, if he doesn't have a dark room, I would make mine available. I've been reprinting work from a local photographer for most of this year, nearly all his work from the 1930's through early 1960's.

Jim Jones
28-Nov-2015, 17:56
What would it take to do these type of prints? I don't have a darkroom and developing equipment.

If you have both negatives and prints of some of the portraits, you could scan the negatives and adjust the image in an editor until digital prints match the original prints. This would give you some feeling for how the photographer and her material interpreted those negatives. This knowledge might also apply to the scenic views. 16 bit scans and an editor that can accommodate them permit smoother prints than 8 bit scans if much adjustment is required.

catrackgraphics
28-Nov-2015, 18:02
+1

I did that with some glass negs a few years ago. It was really fun to do, and the prints were marvelous.

If your bathroom has no windows, the trays go in the bathtub, the paper and neg on a piece of plywood you set on the toilet, with a lightbulb overhead. Then sit on the floor or an upended 5 gallon bucket. It's a variation of what Edward Weston did with silver chloride paper. The paper is really slow, and even with a bulb you'll have multiple second exposures, so changes are easy and pretty forgiving. Use a metronome as a timer, and cover and uncover the paper with a piece of cardboard. You'll get the hang of it in about ten minutes.

Most of all, have fun.

My laundry would probably work - no windows. What chemicals would be needed in the trays. It has been years since I developed prints for the high school yearbook.

This explains an article that referenced a skylight being used for making prints not as light for portrait photos in Guerin's studio.

thank you!

catrackgraphics
28-Nov-2015, 18:08
Welcome to Large Format Photography Forum

Thank you for the welcome! I have fallen head over heels for her work, getting to know her has been such a fun experience.

I can't knock digital, as a graphic designer, it is how I pay the bills. ;)

catrackgraphics
28-Nov-2015, 18:13
If you have both negatives and prints of some of the portraits, you could scan the negatives and adjust the image in an editor until digital prints match the original prints. This would give you some feeling for how the photographer and her material interpreted those negatives. This knowledge might also apply to the scenic views. 16 bit scans and an editor that can accommodate them permit smoother prints than 8 bit scans if much adjustment is required.

Thank you. I hadn't thought to compare them, but will. I have them all scanned, cataloged in Adobe bridge, and packaged in archival folders. I have been researching the photos for location and dates.

catrackgraphics
28-Nov-2015, 18:14
I live about an hour from the OP, if he doesn't have a dark room, I would make mine available. I've been reprinting work from a local photographer for most of this year, nearly all his work from the 1930's through early 1960's.

Thank you, but I live in Memphis, Tennessee. I was raised in Bradford, where the negs were taken.

Bruce Barlow
28-Nov-2015, 20:29
My laundry would probably work - no windows. What chemicals would be needed in the trays. It has been years since I developed prints for the high school yearbook.

This explains an article that referenced a skylight being used for making prints not as light for portrait photos in Guerin's studio.

thank you!

Go to Photographer's Formulary online and get some TF-5 fixer, for starters. Use water as a stop bath (this is kinda in reverse), and then you have many options for developers. Others should gladly chime in, but since it's been a long time for you, keep it simple. I'd vote for their Ansco 130 print developer - it will give Lodima (the silver chloride paper I'd recommend) a nice, slightly warm cast that I think would look good with glass negs.

TF-5 dilutes 1 part stock to 4 parts water, I think, and lasts a long time. If you buy 130 to make a gallon stock, make the full gallon and divide it into 4 -1 liter plastic bottles. It will keep nearly forever. I think you dilute 130 stock 1:1, and the working solution has a huge capacity, so you can actually have a 2-liter bottle handy and save it in-between sessions.

For now, I'd stay away from Amidol and other more, uh, let's call them "esoteric" print developers that you can get from Photographer's Formulary. 130 gets you going quickly. You can always play later and find a look that you like better.

Does the laundry have a sink for water and washing prints? Lucky for you if it does. Think about a 3/4"x2'x6' melamine slab to put over the washer/dryer for a work surface, if they're side-by-side. Home Despotic or Way-Down-Lowe's has them.