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javidson
18-Dec-2015, 13:55
I'm trying to spoof some friends with a hoax photo, claiming that it's much older than it really is.

I have a 4x5 camera and modern, wide angle lenses but could probably borrow other lenses from friends, within a limited range. What should I think about when choosing film and equipment, shooting, and developing to make an image that looks old, and has no features anyone could point to and say "Ha! That means it must be recent!" - and how old can I make an image look, without resorting to antique equipment and exotic techniques (like wet plate)?

Many thanks for any and all suggestions!

vinny
18-Dec-2015, 13:58
iphone. wet plate app.

Andy Eads
18-Dec-2015, 14:44
Blue filter to mimic red-blind sensitivity.

Rael
18-Dec-2015, 14:44
You could do a vandyke brown....they look old. Especially with the right paper.

Randy Moe
18-Dec-2015, 14:48
I'm trying to spoof some friends with a hoax photo, claiming that it's much older than it really is.

I have a 4x5 camera and modern, wide angle lenses but could probably borrow other lenses from friends, within a limited range. What should I think about when choosing film and equipment, shooting, and developing to make an image that looks old, and has no features anyone could point to and say "Ha! That means it must be recent!" - and how old can I make an image look, without resorting to antique equipment and exotic techniques (like wet plate)?

Many thanks for any and all suggestions!

You don't mention if you want to make prints the old totally obsolete darkroom way, or just want to make a quick digi image for cell phones.

Jim Noel
18-Dec-2015, 15:24
Randy, please, the darkroom way is not "totally obsolete". It may be more so with kids under 65, but for us antiques who are not always in a hurry, it is still extremely viable.

If you have the time you need to obtain some orthochromatic film, X-ray seems to be the preferred film today, although I frequently use lith film also. You might find some NOS Ilford Ortho, or Maco Ortho at one of the dealers. No filter, and develop normally.

Randy Moe
18-Dec-2015, 17:23
Sorry Jim, I was joking. I prefer film, have plenty of X-Ray film and shoot it in everything from Hasselblad to 11x14. Yesterday I was looking at Ilford 8x10 Ortho at B&H. Most of my prints look older than my 65 years. Do you think I bought that 7x17 because I don't like film?
I thought my 'joke' was obvious. My mistake. We still don't know what OP really wants...


Randy, please, the darkroom way is not "totally obsolete". It may be more so with kids under 65, but for us antiques who are not always in a hurry, it is still extremely viable.

If you have the time you need to obtain some orthochromatic film, X-ray seems to be the preferred film today, although I frequently use lith film also. You might find some NOS Ilford Ortho, or Maco Ortho at one of the dealers. No filter, and develop normally.

cuypers1807
18-Dec-2015, 17:31
use Ilford Ortho film to mimic the old orthochromatic film look. Push it for extra grain. Sepia toning isn't too complicated if you are feeling adventurous.

javidson
18-Dec-2015, 18:20
These are all great suggestions. To clarify: I'm looking to create an image (maybe a 4x5 contact print) that can be used as "evidence" of something being old, to pass around at a mystery-themed party. Most of my friends are not keen photographers, so the image has to look old in an undefinable but natural way; but a couple are, so I'm trying to work out every way they could look at a print in close detail and spot that it's modern.

I love the idea of using pushed ortho film, or normal film with a blue filter (to avoid having to get a new film type, and learn how to handle litho film - seems like contrast might be a problem).

Will a modern lens leave a noticeable signature, if I stop right down to an old school f/64 kind of aperture?

Are there any other ways I could give the game away? Effectively: if I showed you a photo and said it was from 1910, how would you check that - how could you prove I was lying to you?

Oh, and I don't do my own darkroom work, but get on well with the folk at my local lab so they'll be happy to take any special instructions that aren't excessive.

Pierre 2
18-Dec-2015, 20:35
Some really old photographic paper for your contact prints will carry you quite far in the illusion.

Michael E
18-Dec-2015, 20:45
Sepia toning isn't too complicated if you are feeling adventurous.

Many prints of that period have yellowed and/or had less than perfectly white paper stock. You can give your paper a hint of yellow or brown with a toning bath of tea or coffee.

Bill Burk
19-Dec-2015, 11:54
You should pick up some authentic old prints that show "silvering out."

I don't know. Is there a way to deliberately cause that effect?

Or at least simulate it with a little purple oil coloring and some limited-area "ferrotyping" (press print with hot iron but not all over, just where you colored.).

tgtaylor
19-Dec-2015, 13:21
Take a look at the images in the Cyanotype, Kallitype, and Van Dyke Brownprint Gallery on my website below. Each was created using a nineteenth century printing process which gives them an authentic 19th century look. To create the impression that the photo is old, you can print them on "aged" paper.

Thomas

ic-racer
19-Dec-2015, 14:08
Large format images tend to look 'new. For example I was looking at a full-page reproduction of a Wes Montgomery color image taken on 4x5. It was so clear and vivid, it looked like it was taken yesterday. A big difference from the grainy B&W images of many jazz musicians from the 1940s.

Randy Moe
19-Dec-2015, 14:28
Pinhole shot last June, added sepia in post.

143744

Gary Beasley
19-Dec-2015, 15:44
You could locate a deckle edge paper trimmer or deckle scissors to get a period look to the print. That wavy edge is a prominent feature of 50s era prints from your drug store processors.

Maris Rusis
19-Dec-2015, 19:47
The key thing isn't cameras, lenses, or film, it's subject matter. For a picture to look old all modern things, cars, powerlines, tall buildings, tv antennas, etc, have to be excluded. Then "brand-new" old things, horses, carriages, chimney pots, period garments, etc, have to be included. Once that's done it's time for large format cameras, old lenses, blue-sensitive film, sepia toning, etc. It could be said that since photography is a factive medium it's harder to fake the picture than it is to fake the subject matter.

Michael Clark
19-Dec-2015, 20:31
I think Maris suggestion of subject matter will present the most convincing proof then add the other suggestions.

Pierre 2
19-Dec-2015, 21:09
The reason I mentioned old photo paper is that the back, if printed with Kodak or whatever paper producer name, will show this in a typeset that fits the era. Thanks for the reminder about deckle edge paper. A sepia tone won't make the illusion if the paper trade mark is modern. Of course, it depends how old you want the print to look. The back of the photo is the first thing I would look at.

javidson
19-Dec-2015, 22:16
Many thanks to all for the suggestions so far.

I see how in photographic terms the paper is the main sticking point - subject matter is going to be relatively easy in this case as it's an image of a couple of people outdoors in a forest, so posing and costume can be copied from existing period photos.

I love the idea of these old, alternative processes. Obviously there's plenty of information online, but all candidate processes seem to be beyond me. I have no darkroom (not even any rooms in my apartment without windows facing outdoors, into strong city street lighting) and would find it hard to obtain the chemicals and equipment necessary. In any case, experimenting with an antique process seems like a serious investment just to make one print (or a few, but certainly no more than six).

When I do searches for alternative processes, I find a vast amount of how-to information, but next to nobody offering them commercially - I've only come up with the Chicago Albumen Works as any kind of possibility. I'd be hugely grateful for any information on companies or individuals able to make a small number of contact prints with an antique process for a non-excessive price. Perhaps even a forum member would be willing to discuss terms...

Meanwhile, rather than trying to make modern paper look old, it should be pretty easy to get hold of actual old base paper. My immediate idea is to look through my old but largely valueless books for sheets that have nothing printed on them, and just cut out any blank pages (thank you an episode of CSI or one of those shows from a few years ago!).


Finally, to clarify: I'm hoping to make a print that a laymen would consider old-looking and that experienced and sharp folk such as yourselves, with your suspicions aroused, could examine and not find flaw with. It's just for a one-off event, so it needn't pass any kind of lab analysis or microscopy, but something you could peer at closely, touch, smell, etc, and not find any technical aspect to prove it's from 2016, rather than 1916 (or even earlier, if we can get there).

If I shoot modern normal 4x5 film (say HP5+, because I've got some anyway) with a modern lens at a small aperture, with a blue filter, of subjects with no technological items in view and in period costume, and find a way of contact printing it onto old paper with an era-appropriate process, will there be anything about that print to make you shout "Ah ha! It's modern!"?

Duolab123
19-Dec-2015, 22:18
You should pick up some authentic old prints that show "silvering out."

I don't know. Is there a way to deliberately cause that effect?

Or at least simulate it with a little purple oil coloring and some limited-area "ferrotyping" (press print with hot iron but not all over, just where you colored.).

A buddy of mine and I tried to make knock off real photo post cards about 30 years back, so since we never sold any I guess I can't go to jail.
We used a process camera with Eastman PRO copy film to make 1:1 copy negs of a premo original card . We would contact print on double weight Azo 11 X14 made 8 cards. Azo stock didn't have any uv brighteners. After normal development we cooked up a brew of our own version of Halo chrome (Tollens reagent for aldehydes). Used dilute in combination with regular dektol we were able to get very subtle silver in in the shadows. Used an antique letter press to backprint either an Azo or Kruxo back. Then a very little dilued tea, maybe a smudge of cigarette ash on the back and rough up the edges a bit. Pretty impressive I found a few the other day. Looked good.

One trick is find some Single weight F surface fiber base paper and ferrotype it. That puts it pre rc paper.

Rael
19-Dec-2015, 23:01
If I shoot modern normal 4x5 film (say HP5+, because I've got some anyway) with a modern lens at a small aperture, with a blue filter, of subjects with no technological items in view and in period costume, and find a way of contact printing it onto old paper with an era-appropriate process, will there be anything about that print to make you shout "Ah ha! It's modern!"?

You could pick this up: http://www.freestylephoto.biz/1832016-Rockland-Colloid-Tintype-Parlor-Kit

Harold_4074
20-Dec-2015, 13:07
If you are going to make six copies of one photograph, and anyone is aware that all six are the same, then it may be difficult to come up with a "cover story" which explains how six copies of the same (amateur?) image survived together for the better part of a century.

Something that would help is to make contact prints in one of the common roll-film formats of the period, unless the photo in question is supposed to be "professional", in which case a plate size from the pre-4x5 era would be appropriate. An advantage of roll film is that all six could have come from a roll of, for example, 616 film and kept as a "set" of pictures from one session. (The popularity of 4x5 format is "relatively" modern, and may well flag a nominally 1910 contact print as anomalous, particularly if has borders and yet is perfectly composed for its format.) For example, 616 film made six (and later eight) 2-1/2 x 4-1/4 images, which look distinctly archaic today.

As noted above, the paper will be the key; very early on, it would have been albumen, which you might approximate by artificially ageing a modern double-weight warm-tone image (except for the surface texture...). Later, chloride contact papers like Azo or the modern equivalent would have been common, and the images would have been cooler-toned (while ageing turned the paper base warmer). Early on, single weight paper was the most common except for commercial work, since double-weight paper was more expensive; this stayed true until well into the modern era. Someone more knowledgeable than myself may be able to tell you when ferrotyping became common; I know that it was the standard drugstore finish at least by the 1930s and persisted until the advent of RC papers, probably because ferrotyping drum dryers were so efficient.

What you are attempting is mostly an exercise in applied perceptual psychology, so the more you can do in the way of confirming others' expectations the better it will work. "Foxing" by tea staining should be present on any really old print, and practically everyone has seen it in person or reproduction, so it is expected even if the viewer couldn't tell you why. Prints that presumably would have been handled a lot should be slightly dog-eared, and adding "wear" to the corners with very fine sandpaper will have an almost subliminal effect. Prints that presumably came from an old album will be enhanced by the residue of library paste and soft paper from their original mounting, or triangular blemishes from the use of photo mounting corners. And so forth...your phase "undefinable but natural" is exactly on the money.

I presume that if you use 4x5 Ilford film you are also knowledgeable enough to be able to spot the artifacts of technique which marked the various eras of photography: couples posed in the center of the frame (in the days of simplistic viewfinders), pictures taken under blank skies (blue-sensitive emulsions and overcast days because of glare with uncoated lenses) and blurred foliage (with a large negative and a contact print, hand-holding at 1/25 second wasn't difficult, but the wind didn't care about that). Prior to WWII, "fast" film was ASA 50, which explains the characteristic look of old "action" pictures. A superb reference for this sort of thing is The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888--1978 (Greenough and Waggoner, 2007) because the images are authoritatively dated and reproduced in color. Possibly someone can suggest a similar reference for commercial photography.

I hope that you are successful; this kind of thing can be really fun. A few years back I needed a modern print of a 40-year-old negative to support a friendly deception in connection with my high school reunion; we wanted to furnish a plausible origin for snapshots that would otherwise prematurely give away my involvement. I picked a "reject" image, printed it on single-weight paper, tea-stained it, and then aged it with sandpaper and added some minor "distressing" to the face. It was sent to the reunion committee through a "cutout" who claimed to have found it in a box of souvenirs in the back of a closet, and it apparently passed muster even alongside large numbers of authentic pictures!

Best of luck, and I for one would love to hear how it works out.

Winger
20-Dec-2015, 13:31
You haven't mentioned where you are. If you're lucky enough, there might be a member not too far from you who might be willing to help you out with darkroom use. I know if you're near me I would. I also have some old prints if you want to see how they feel and look. But since they're family prints, I'm not going to let them out of my possession - sorry 'bout that. I don't remember the exact ages of what I have, but some are 1940 or earlier (not sure if I have any as old as 1910). I mostly have negatives.
I agree that the paper is a huge key to pulling off the feel and look of an old print. An RC paper would not work at all, imo, and the fiber papers I've used are not like the old ones. The base is creamier in the old ones and the weight of the paper is different. Tea staining might be the way to go as it's fairly simple.

bobwysiwyg
20-Dec-2015, 14:32
You could pick this up: http://www.freestylephoto.biz/1832016-Rockland-Colloid-Tintype-Parlor-Kit

Very intriguing. Might give this a try, thanks for posting the link.

javidson
20-Dec-2015, 15:02
Thanks again for these further answers.

Sadly, I'm located in a distant and exotic developing country, where I've never found the customs service willing to allow anything in that they're not familiar with (and even then often after extensive delays and non-specific "taxes"). What's easy to pick up as a kit in the USA can be a major procurement challenge in countries without much interest in amateur photography.

I could theoretically try to source chemicals from local general chemical suppliers for more standard things at least, and know someone who knows someone who works at the photography college so might be able to get darkroom space... and then start learning a new process. However, if anyone knows an individual or lab that does old processes on a mail-in basis, I'd find that a very attractive option.

To answer a couple of the points brought up by Harold_4074 in his very interesting post: my scenario is that these photos will form the denouement of a mystery thing. They'll serve to prove that a person present at the event is the same as a mysterious figure the group's been investigating in historical documents from a hundred years ago. It's a matter of having photographic "proof" that my friend who's playing the Man of Mystery is clearly visible and identifiable in an image or a set of different images discovered from the period we've been looking at. Image(s) will be of him, in period dress and period settings, perhaps with one or two other people.


I have access to libraries of old photos from the few photographers who did most work in the country, so can get a good idea of what kinds of compositions they favoured and try to ape their style - though rather than the unnecessary risk of trying to fake a particular photographer or studio, my goal is to try for more of a "possible student of...".

It all boils down to two features: the print is convincingly old, and unmistakeably depicts the person in the room, looking unaged.

dsphotog
20-Dec-2015, 21:59
Have an Elvis impersonator in the photo.
Wink wink!
And maybe ask someone like this guy to print it for you.


A buddy of mine and I tried to make knock off real photo post guess I can't go to jail.
We used a process camera with Eastman PRO copy film to make 1:1 copy negs of a premo original card . We would contact print on double weight Azo 11 X14 made 8 cards. Azo stock didn't have any uv brighteners. After normal development we cooked up a brew of our own version of Halo chrome (Tollens reagent for aldehydes). Used dilute in combination with regular dektol we were able to get very subtle silver in in the shadows. Used an antique letter press to backprint either an Azo or Kruxo back. Then a very little dilued tea, maybe a smudge of cigarette ash on the back and rough up the edges a bit. Pretty impressive I found a few the other day. Looked good.

One trick is find some Single weight F surface fiber base paper and ferrotype it. That puts it pre rc paper.