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Thread: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

  1. #1

    Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    I'm looking for help in making some historically accurate prints from a series of 8 x 10" glass negatives I have which came from Bushnell Studios in Portland circa 1915-30. I'll be donating these negatives to the Oregon Historical Society and would like to suggest to them that these photos and history around Bushnell would make an interesting show. There are about 1,500 negatives, all portraits from Portland, but I'd want to print maybe up to 20.

    I only have negatives and I don't know how printing techniques differed in those days. The negatives often have order instructions; e.g., gold tone, etc.

    I'm looking for advice in finding someone who can make historically accurate prints at a museum quality / show level.

    I've enclosed a sample scan. From my inexpert viewpoint, the images are truly spectacular.

    Craig Fransen
    Tacoma
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails BUSH-0008 Steelbommer, Stulbommer, Steelhammer [1 - 8x 10 Tissue paper Tissue Mtg. 59699-4].jpg  

  2. #2

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    Re: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Fransen View Post
    I'm looking for help in making some historically accurate prints from a series of 8 x 10" glass negatives I have which came from Bushnell Studios in Portland circa 1915-30. I'll be donating these negatives to the Oregon Historical Society and would like to suggest to them that these photos and history around Bushnell would make an interesting show. There are about 1,500 negatives, all portraits from Portland, but I'd want to print maybe up to 20.

    I only have negatives and I don't know how printing techniques differed in those days. The negatives often have order instructions; e.g., gold tone, etc.

    I'm looking for advice in finding someone who can make historically accurate prints at a museum quality / show level.

    I've enclosed a sample scan. From my inexpert viewpoint, the images are truly spectacular.

    Craig Fransen
    Tacoma
    "Historically accurate" prints could be difficult to achieve, Craig. The print papers available 100 years ago are long gone, replaced by much different modern papers. Also, it's hard to know which printing process this studio would have used, unless there are precise notes about their choice of materials. Maybe they printed on AZO type papers. Maybe the negatives were created for albumen printing (they'd be contrasty and dense in the highlights). I think you'd need to just find a skilled darkroom technician and give them the freedom to interpret the negs as best they could, mimicking the style of the era using modern materials. A good technician should be able to take those negatives and interpret them in the darkroom in such a way that the resulting photographs appear true to the style of the period.

  3. #3
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    Maybe an older style paper like Lodima (azo subsitute), or Foma fomabrom. If you can find someone to handle retouching, or learn it yourself, that would be a historically accurate part of the process too.

  4. #4

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    Re: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    +1 for retouching. Much as Photoshop retouching is expected today of your typical wedding photographer etc retouching was standard back then in any professional photo studio.

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    Re: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    Hmmm. The glass negatives will already have been retouched, and retouching on the print is imponderable at this point. The studio may well have offered various print surfaces and tones, which could not be exactly replicated today. I suppose a matte-surface warm-tone paper would be your best bet. Developing-out papers were pretty standard by 1915; albumen was gone, gold-toned POP was possible (but sadly not today), as was platinum and palladium. You might try different toners and find something that looks good, if not perfectly accurate. An interesting challenge!

  6. #6

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    Re: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    Might the Oregon Historical Society have on hand a number of photographic prints from the same (1915-1930) time period? If so, might I suggest that since you are offering your large number of glass plate negatives to them as a donation, plus a grouping of 20 prints for a show...they might allow you to visit them to peruse some of their prints - and perhaps even let you borrow a couple to use as "reference prints" to help you tweak your results to be more "historically accurate?" Just a thought!

    Another thought would be to arrange a visit with a (Portland or Seattle?) museum curator for some advice.

    At any rate...good luck - and good for you for keeping these important images together and for shepherding them forward in service of both education and historic preservation.

    ...and yes indeed - that is a stunning image!

  7. #7
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    Re: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    Any paper should be fine. I'd use multigrade paper, out of practicality, since you were not in control of the development of the negatives. Standard processing of the paper prints. Nothing new since then. I'd take maybe the best five and enlarge them to 16x20.

  8. #8
    multi format
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    Re: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    periodicals from that time period might offer some insights, they are available on google books...
    a lot of innovation happened in the years the studio was active, some people doing art nouveau work, gum over platinum and / or toned platinum prints, as well as toned albumen, silver chloride and bromide emulsions. you also might be better off making contact prints on modern paper and interpreting the negatives from a 2023 perspective, it will offer less confusion down the road seeing it's in a museum and people who find the prints, see "vintage negatives and vintage looking prints" might think the prints were from the same studio that made the negatives. .... kind of like when civil war re-enactors make period style tintypes but have something modern in the image so there's no confusion down the line ... "tax credit" projects on historic structures do the same sort of thing ( they want no confusion about what is "historically significant" ... nice treasure trove of plates! good luck with your fun project!
    Last edited by jnantz; 4-Dec-2023 at 18:59.

  9. #9
    Zebra
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    Re: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    here are three master printers that can handle many different genres, well masterfully. All have printed for others at various times. All are incredible people who would be a joy to work with as well.

    Monty

    Clay Harmon

    https://www.clayharmon.com/

    Steve Sherman

    https://www.powerofprocesstips.com/

    Bob Carnie

    https://www.silvershack.ca/

  10. #10

    Re: Period correct 8 x 10 print techniques and help

    Quote Originally Posted by domaz View Post
    +1 for retouching. Much as Photoshop retouching is expected today of your typical wedding photographer etc retouching was standard back then in any professional photo studio.
    Yes, these negatives have been retouched. The two mechanisms I've discovered were a kind of black crayon used on the reverse for highlights and scratches on the emulsion side, defining features and "sharpening". One of the museum displays I envision would highlight and show these techniques.

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