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Archive 2013 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate
  
 
dmacmillan
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p.1 #1 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


In a prior conversation, I mentioned I had bought an Epson v700 that would allow me to scan not only 4x5 negatives, but also some 5x7 glass plates I inherited from the family.

I finally got around to making a custom holder and trying scanning the plates. Here's the first. To me, what's most noticeable is the bad job of agitation when developing making the sky mottled. The negative is sharp, though. When you zoom in the faces are very sharp.

I've done preliminary retouching, but there's a lot of tedious work left to really spruce it up. I wish I knew who the subjects were, they must be friends of my great uncle, because I have photos of all his brothers and sisters at this age and none of them are pictured.




Feb 24, 2013 at 03:11 AM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #2 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


5x7 is something of a sweet spot, not least because, as I recall, it's approximately the best size for transparency/negative scanning by the v700.


Feb 24, 2013 at 07:57 AM
oldrattler
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p.1 #3 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


Exceptional.


Feb 24, 2013 at 11:26 AM
a.RodriguezPix
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p.1 #4 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


dmacmillan wrote:
In a prior conversation, I mentioned I had bought an Epson v700 that would allow me to scan not only 4x5 negatives, but also some 5x7 glass plates I inherited from the family.

I finally got around to making a custom holder and trying scanning the plates. Here's the first. To me, what's most noticeable is the bad job of agitation when developing making the sky mottled. The negative is sharp, though. When you zoom in the faces are very sharp.

I've done preliminary retouching, but there's a lot of tedious work left to really spruce it up. I wish I
Feb 24, 2013 at 11:40 AM
Bob Jarman
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p.1 #5 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


Fascinating Doug!

You will have a wonderful and obviously one-of-a-kind collection.

Keep us posted.

Bob



Feb 24, 2013 at 12:59 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #6 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


a.RodriguezPix wrote:
I like the lady far left after the man, it is a wonderful capture frozen in time!! thanks for sharing!

She's staring a hole through the camera, that's for sure! It sure looks like a come hither look to me. Here's a crop. The ortho characteristics accentuate her freckles, which is fine by me. I'm a sucker for freckle faced girls. I married one 42 years ago.




Feb 24, 2013 at 08:56 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #7 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


Yes, the detail and resolution is impressive.


Feb 25, 2013 at 03:24 AM
Skarkowtsky
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p.1 #8 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


This is great, Doug!


Feb 26, 2013 at 04:39 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #9 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


The detail of larger format is something that can catch you off guard when you're so accustomed to 35mm / medium format. Seeing the detail in your crop reminds me of some school pics from a local historical museum. Even though they are vintage and antiquated ... they had impressive detail for something nearly 100 years old.

GL with the restoration and figuring out who they people are ... any idea of the year this was taken?



Feb 26, 2013 at 05:12 AM
Almass
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p.1 #10 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


I estimate the pic around late 1800 probably late 1890. The reason is mainly the clothes of the man in the middle with a Fedora which came into fashion by very late 80 and early 1900.

My main observation is the conflict in the shadows are they are sharp, short and heavy on the group details and positioned at 2.0 O'clock while at the same time there is no front shadow on the group and they are squinting from a head light. Where did the group shadows have disappeared? Behind them?
The shadow of the tree is conflicting with the group shadow and I assume the tree is the correct sun shadow but it is coming from 10.00 O'clock conflicting with the short shadow on the group coming from the opposite direction!

If it is a wet plate, then the photographer is present next to the scene with his equipment as wet plates have to processed as soon as shot. In other words, this shot is made by a commercial photographer and I would not be surprised if the shot is composited on another shot of the location without the people who would be then positioned in place by the photographer for the final shot.



Feb 26, 2013 at 11:59 AM
 

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RustyBug
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p.1 #11 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


That would be my gut guess at the timeline, but I've little knowledge of the fashions of the times to go by.

It seems to me that they aren't squinting because they all have their heads tilted such that there own forehead/brow serves to block the intense sun that would otherwise cause such squinting (middle man excepted).

Taking a close look at the shadow cast from her hand and around her eyes in the crop, I'd say it is more like a 12:15 position than 2:00. It is very nearly direct overhead. While the tree shadow on the bank looks like it might be cast from the "wrong side" at 10:00, look at the telephone pole behind it and you can see that its key side is the right side, with shadow left. Looking at the other trunks behind it and the house through the trees, we see also see key on the right. The shadow on the bank is cast from the overhead branches onto the sloping bank, which will effect the perception of the shadow length / direction somewhat. Also, note the swan and its blown/reflection/lack of shadow (i.e. not 10:00).

As to where did the group shadows go, they are underneath and behind them. Look at the women's blouse shadow in the crop and look between/under/behind the legs of the man on the right. See also, the shadows on the drape of the pants @ man left as well as the shadow cast onto the backmost leg.

I have little doubt that this was taken commercially. The knowledge of how to handle this "worst possible" (or so we've been told) lighting in the multiple ways that the people are positioned, imo, wasn't just good luck ... this guy knew exactly what he was doing ... and made it look as though this group was merely frolicking at the lake, when stopped for a "snapshot". Ambient shooters should take note of how it was done "old school".

Doug ... can you "break the rules" and post this much larger (or link to) so we can better see all it has to offer.

Edited on Feb 26, 2013 at 01:38 PM · View previous versions



Feb 26, 2013 at 01:26 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #12 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


Almass wrote:
I estimate the pic around late 1800 probably late 1890. The reason is mainly the clothes of the man in the middle with a Fedora which came into fashion by very late 80 and early 1900.

If it is a wet plate, then the photographer is present next to the scene with his equipment as wet plates have to processed as soon as shot. In other words, this shot is made by a commercial photographer and I would not be surprised if the shot is composited on another shot of the location without the people who would be then positioned in
...Show more
Thanks for the info. That's my wag on the timeframe as well. I'm thinking ca 1905. Dry plates didn't really go into production until 1879.

While your conlusion that the photo was made by a commercial photographer is intriguing, I'm wondering how my family acquired the original glass plate. Also, I know that many family members, specifically my great uncle Clifford Elfe Henry and my grandfather Karl Kirk Domingos were avid amateur photographers. My grandfather had an added advantage, he was a pharmacist with his own drug store back in the days that it was common for drug stores to do photofinishing.

I'm going to hunt for photos that include some of the individuals pictured here with family members. I have complete records of the names and ages of the family. I also have professional photographs of the children with the date and age written on the back, all the way from when they were children to when they were old.. That helps identify the dates of the snapshots of them that I have.



Feb 26, 2013 at 01:34 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #13 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


Ah ... avid amateur with own photofinishing, that might explain the sky a bit. But whoever it was, they knew how to handle the overhead light. Kinda suggests how even back then photographers may have been more focused on the capture than the processing/finishing ... i.e. our human nature to be impatient button pushers.


Feb 26, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Almass
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p.1 #14 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


dmacmillan wrote:
Thanks for the info. That's my wag on the timeframe as well. I'm thinking ca 1905. Dry plates didn't really go into production until 1879.

While your conlusion that the photo was made by a commercial photographer is intriguing, I'm wondering how my family acquired the original glass plate. Also, I know that many family members, specifically my great uncle Clifford Elfe Henry and my grandfather Karl Kirk Domingos were avid amateur photographers. My grandfather had an added advantage, he was a pharmacist with his own drug store back in the days that it was common for drug stores to do
...Show more


Excellent, looking forward for that.

You have answered the riddle. If you had Uncles into photography at that time and a grandfather Pharmacist, then they are guilty as charged based on circumstantial evidence.

Can you post a pic of the plate to determine whether wet or dry plate?
Or at least confirm that the image on the plate is negative? Surely it cannot be positive?



Feb 26, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Skarkowtsky
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p.1 #15 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


In keeping with the era...

...and with Doug's permission, I present my Ca. 1904-1907 Kampfe Bros STAR Safety Razor. This model is called 'Favorite', and is a Seven-Day set with seven corresponding blades. The handle along the left of the first pic is the stropping attachment.

I just had the blades returned after a fresh honing by a gent in MO. Yesterday was my first shave. I'm hoping I develop more technique, today. Also using pre-shave cream, lather soap and brush, and awaiting an antique horsehide strop.

There's just nothing like the inventions of the Victorian/Edwardian era. Photography included!

Doug, please share yours, too.












Feb 26, 2013 at 02:23 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #16 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


RustyBug wrote:
I have little doubt that this was taken commercially. The knowledge of how to handle this "worst possible" (or so we've been told) lighting in the multiple ways that the people are positioned, imo, wasn't just good luck ... this guy knew exactly what he was doing ... and made it look as though this group was merely frolicking at the lake, when stopped for a "snapshot". Ambient shooters should take note of how it was done "old school".

As an avid amateur who got a degree in photography and practiced as a commercial photographer for a quarter of a century who went back to the amateur status, I'd like to address the "it's good so a pro must have shot it" attitude I see here and have seen in other places.

It does seem to be an image that was thought out. Anyone who has shot with a view camera knows you have to work intentionally. This, however, is well within the capability of an amateur. Furthermore, amateurs, both then and now, don't automatically "go pro" if they exhibit talent and ability.

Some of my favorite photographers were amateurs, folks like Julia Margaret Cameron, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Lewis Carroll, Diane Arbus and Clarence White. In the early days of photography, commercial photographers were viewed as inferior to amateur photographers.

When I was a teenager I thought that the natural progression of love of photography led to doing it as a living. That is certainly a viable way of pursuing that love, but it is not the only way. It is also short sighted to think that professionals are technically and especially artistically superior to talented amateurs.



Feb 26, 2013 at 10:59 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #17 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


Doug ... without getting into the inverse debate of what constitutes an amateur vs. pro.

Even if one is in an "amateur" status ... they can still shoot "commercially" ... to which I mean with deliberate intent and execution based upon their knowledge, training and experience to produce an image vs. just shooting a snapshot by happenstance. I didn't mean to suggest that an amateur is incapable of such workmanship ... there are plenty of avid amateurs that supersede the workmanship of those collecting $$$ for their efforts.

My bad at failing to distinguish a commercial $$$ vs. a commercial approach (i.e. production vs. snapshot) ... the latter being my intent. Whether or not a $$$ is involved has little impact to the merit of the photographer.

Like you and thousands of others, I have been on both sides of the $$$ at varying times ... the $$$ doesn't change the validity of the work. Only the work speaks for itself. I was simply trying to give strong props to whoever shot this as I could see the evidence of their disciplined approach in a way that "modern photography" would have written off as a bad choice to shoot in noon lighting.

In no way was I trying to suggest an amateur incapable ... just there weren't a lot of avid amateur photographers shooting 5x7 in that era of history (as I understand it), so whoever took the image was likely well trained/disciplined ... much like that of "commercial" photographer ... he knew both his subject matter and his lighting, and it shows.

No offense meant to you, your family's or any amateur photographer's photographic abilities ... only props to the shooter and the display of his talent & discipline for his savvy workmanship under lighting that would prove too challenging and be the demise for many (self-included) lesser skilled portrait shooters ... irregardless of the $$$.




Feb 27, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Skarkowtsky
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p.1 #18 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


I'm posting this quote objectively. I find it appropriate for this thread, and downright interesting about the history of photography--which we all love.

Cited from a book entitled Hometown U.S.A: A study of what life was like 75 years ago. Copyright, 1975.

"The number of men and women in that profession was surprisingly large; of a nationwide total of 31,775 photographers listed in the 1910 census, more than half, 16,700, were based in small towns. Their beat was succinctly described in an advertisement placed by L.E. Lindsay and J.L.B. Smith, partners who worked out of Nashau, New Hampshire. The Lindsay & Smith studio assured the public that it was prepared to produce "Views of Homesteads, Interiors, Public Buildings, Family Gatherings, School Classes and Groups, taken to order in short notice." Most such photographers found it necessary to roam beyond their home base to generate enough business to support themselves. Theodore Teeple, for example, maintained galleries in Ashland, Wooster, and Massillon, Ohio, requiring him to journey some 50 miles to cover all three. The Howes brothers of Ashfield, Massachusetts, were even more itinerant, spending their entire summers criss-crossing the Connecticut Valley by horse and buggy from Hartford nearly to the Vermont border to pick up commissions."

"A substantial number of pictures made by talented amateurs will also be found on these pages. For some, photography was a hobby that led them to experiment with a variety of cameras and materials; for others, the fun was less in the technique than in the subject matter. Mrs. Jeanette Bernard seems to have been in the latter category...Nearly all of her pictures were taken in or around her home--in the kitchen, on the back porch, in the yard by the grape arbor, in a nearby wooded area..."

"Commercial photographers rarely had cause to take pictures of such "ordinary" scenes, and so our visual record is dependent on the amateurs like Mrs. Bernard who had the wit--and the talent--to make the everyday interesting."

Seems like photography was all over, and it would be difficult for us to qualify Doug's glass plate as professional or amateur, as everyone working with the medium in an era when an understanding of mathematics and chemistry was required could produce such a photograph.

Let's just leave it alone as a great photo?

No, I did not go to the library just for this, haha. I just happened to receive this book by mail this afternoon, as I've taken an interest in Edwardian American society.

Ok, no more geeking out, I promise!




Feb 28, 2013 at 01:58 AM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #19 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


Here's a new image from another 5x7 glass plate. I'm not moving very fast on these. This image, "The Swimming Hole", was a challenge. I ended up doing three scans and using PS6 HDR Pro to combine them. Without going HDR, the tin roof blew out and the shadows blocked. It must have been an exposure of well over a second, only one boy stayed relatively still.

It was taken somewhere south of the family home in central Georgia, we don't get Spanish Moss this far north. You can drive 100 miles south and find it, though.




Mar 03, 2013 at 09:43 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #20 · 5x7 Vintage Glass Plate


Perhaps it was exposed and developed to make contact prints on printing out paper which requires a negative with very high contrast, as I seem to recall. Printing out paper contact prints were quite popular back in the day.


Mar 03, 2013 at 11:27 PM
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