January 1889, The Beacon
Special thanks to the UCLA Library, librarian Hal. D. Bernstein, 1930. The Beacon, January 1889, Volume 1, No 1. Later renamed to The Photo-Beacon.
[Latest update: September 1, 2020]
[Update Targets: Fix type-setting errors, fix typos, add annotations, link to glossary]
Index of Articles:
- Concerning Exposure
- On Printing
- The Optical Lantern Condenser
- Encaustic Paste
- Darkroom Jottings
- The Largest Camera In The World
- Words From The Watch-Tower
- Meetings of Societies
- Editorial Table
- Letters To The Editor
- Answers To Correspondents
- Recent Photographic United States Patents
DEVOTED TO PHOTOGRAPHY IN ALL ITS PHASES
There is no difficulty connected with the practice of photography which, to the tyro, seems so troublesome to overcome as the question of exposure; and none, under ordinary circumstances, in which the more experienced can be of less help to the beginner.
The seeker after information generally puts his question somewhat after this form : “How long shall I give with a quick plate"—beginners always want quick plates—“and No. 3 stop 2" quite ignoring or altogether ignorant of the fact that the question contains no data on which a satisfactory answer can be founded.
For this the tyro is not altogether to blame. The optician must come in for a good share of it, as with only a few exceptions lens makers construct and mark their stops according to their own sweet will, and, in too many cases, at least, there is nothing on either the stop or the lenses to show that important fact, their relation to each other, or what may be called the F value of the stop. 
The “Universal System," adopted and recommended by the Photographic Society of London, may not be the best that can be devised, but it is at least intelligible and enables the questioner to put his question in terms that will enable the experienced photographer to give an answer that shall be at least an approximation to the truth. And not only so, but having got an idea of the time required for, say, f/14, the questioner knows that the time for each smaller stop is just double that of its predecessor, and for each larger, half the time required for the one before.
While it is true that to one who thoroughly understands the theory and practice of development, there is a considerable latitude in the degree of exposure from which a good negative may be obtained, it is equally true that for every subject to which the camera may be directed there is a period of what may be called proper exposure, from which, notwithstanding much that has been written to the contrary, a better negative can be made than from a plate that has got a little more, or a little less than the correct time.
Recognizing the necessity for something approaching to correct exposure, and undervaluing the power of cultivated observation, many inexperienced, and even a few experienced, photographers have vainly sought for some royal road to the desired goal, the search generally being in the direction of some form of actinometer, under the impression that there must be some easily calculated ratio between the quantities of light required to produce, respectively, a visible and latent image.
Crook's radiometer, on its introduction, was, by many, received with acclamation as the great desideratum, and although it was soon shown to be a blind guide, it now and then crops up, under the wing of someone who ought to know better. Screens and reflectors of various kinds have had their advocates, and the shades of color produced on sensitive paper in a given time has times without number been proposed, and as often discarded.
Generally, as we have already said, those proposals have been made by men who possessed the little knowledge which has been said to be a dangerous thing; but the most recent candidate for actinometric fame that we have seen is, according to his own statement, destitute of even that little knowledge. He says, “I have no practical knowledge of photography; I never took an outside picture in my life, and I do not know how to develop.” With this confession as a proof of his ability to solve the difficult question of proper exposure, he proceeds to tell us that all that is necessary is to bring into play “the law of direct proportion.” His method of doing this is to immerse a strip of albumenized paper in a solution of silver nitrate of some fixed strength for an indefinite time. The strip is then drained, dried and placed between two pieces of wood, held together by rubber bands. Half an inch of this strip is pulled out and exposed to sunlight till it is as black as it can be. Another half inch is pulled out and allowed to blacken in the same way, the time occupied in the second blackening being noted. Three plates are then to be exposed, presumably on an ordinary landscape, and after development the best is to be taken as correct, and the relation between the exposure given to it, and the time required to blacken the paper slip, will be the proportion that will make the happy photographer of the future independent of mistakes in exposure.
Equally useful and perhaps more amusing is the practice of an English photographer, according to a statement made by Mr. F. W. Cox, at a meeting of the London and Provincial Photographic Association. He said that the photographer in question employed his cat as an actinometer, estimating the intensity of the light for the time being by the size of the pupils of its eyes.
If ever a practically useful actinometer is found, one that shall in any degree give an idea of the proper exposure for general landscape work, it must be one that deals not with direct sunlight or diffused light from the sky; but with the light, and with that alone, which each separate picture sends through the lens. Not only do various pictures, however close they may be to each other, require different exposures, but the same picture, if taken from a different point of view, will frequently require different treatment in the matter of light, and that, even although the distance between the points be no greater than may be produced by slightly revolving the camera.
But is there really a necessity for an actinometer for landscape purposes? We think not. To the experienced photographer who has taken the trouble to cultivate his power of observation, the ability to hit on the proper time of exposure comes instinctively; and, like many other powers more akin to instinct than to reason, is more easily and certainly acted on than explained. He may not be, in point of fact hardly ever is, able to say by looking at the landscape or object, just how many seconds or fractions of a second would be the correct exposure, neither would an examination of the image on the ground glass help him out of the difficulty. It would seem, however, that the two together, with probably the addition of an indefinite something else, at once solves the problem, as we know it to be within the experience of thousands that after the focusing cloth is thrown over the camera and the shutter withdrawn, the proper answer to the difficult question comes as if by inspiration.
We are not more gifted than the average photographer whose experience extends over a few years; but we say with confidence that on a dozen of any of the various plates with which we are acquainted, and with pictures varying from shady ravines to open, brilliantly lighted landscapes or seascapes, and with any stop from ! to ". we could produce a dozen properly exposed pictures with no other guide than the aforesaid instinct or inspiration.
We have therefore little sympathy with those who, in their desire to simplify photography, strive to reduce it to the level of a mere mechanical operation; and firmly believing in Ruskin's dictum that what (in art) can be done mechanically is not worth doing, we are confident that, just in proportion to the amount of success that rewards their efforts will photography pass into the hands of the uncultured and unappreciative.
There is also another, and equally serious objection to the search after the mechanical or actinometrical method of making exposures, namely, its tendency to stunt the growth of correct judgment, founded on accurate observation. He who is content to walk in leading strings will never fully realize the delight of free and independent action; and he who fritters away his time in a vain search after the impossible, or something which, if it could be obtained, would do harm rather than good by still further reducing photography to the mere mechanical, can never know the pleasure resulting from the successful application of highly cultivated powers of observation.
From the day that Fox Talbot first showed that a film of silver iodide could, by exposure to the light reflected from a landscape, and subsequent development, yield a negative from which any number of positives could be printed, down to the present time, such printing has been regarded as little more than a mechanical process, and although much has been written on the subject, and many modifications of the original process have been made, the proportion of attention respectively given to the production of the negative, and the printing therefrom, has been somewhat in the ratio that Falstaff's sack bore to his bread.
Of course, the production of the negative is an all-important matter, as without a good negative, a good print cannot be obtained; but it is no less a fact that in the hands of a poor printer, or by the adoption of an unsuitable process, very inferior prints may be got from even the best negatives.
The history of photographic printing is peculiar, in so far as it shows that popular taste has been the outcome of circumstances, instead of circumstances having been modified to meet the public taste. An untoned silver print, as it left the hypo solution, was of such an unpleasant color, that a means of changing it to something different was soon found to be necessary. A solution of hyposulphite of silver and gold was found to produce fine purple blacks, and, when the paper was sensitized on a bath of ammonia nitrate of silver, blacks equal to the finest engraving were obtained.
Unfortunately, at this period the patrons of the photographer were not gifted with much art culture, and demanded a glossy surface that would show the most minute detail to be found in the negative, and hence albumenized paper was introduced to meet the demand. This was really a retrograde step, both artistically and technically. It will be generally admitted that although pleasing effects may be produced in various shades of red and purple, they are only so as exceptions, and that the educated artist regards black and white as the only true method of translating pictures in monochrome. On floating albumenized paper on the ammonia nitrate solution, it was found that the albumen was dissolved, and the question came to be, fine blacks on a dull surface, or the less artistic bluish black, on the equally non-artistic glossy surface. The latter gained the day, and the silly craze for a high gloss has continued until now.
By and by doubts began to arise as to the permanence of the prints toned by hyposulphite of silver and gold, and the present method of toning by alkaline gold was introduced, with its tendency to warm browns, purple browns, and all the rest of the brown family.
Printing on albumenized paper, and toning in solutions of gold, rendered alkaline by bicarbonate, biborate, acetate or phosphate of soda, as introduced then, has been, and is still, the photographer's mainstay, and that almost without change or improvement of any kind.
But silver printing has not held its prečminent position unquestioned. Many rivals have entered the field, some of which looked so promising that its days seemed to be numbered.
Fargier showed how to produce exquisite prints on a film of carbon and gelatine, and Swan improved on his method. Blair was the first to show that true half-tone could be got by developing on the opposite side to that exposed to the light in printing, and the Autotype company took hold of the process and made it thoroughly practical. Goupil charmed lovers of art by his exquisite copies of paintings in photogravure, a process which was generally supposed to have emanated from the fertile brain of Walter Woodbury, and since then Ives, Gutekunst, Moss and a host of others, have given to the world many processes by which, for some purposes, at least, results very much superior to even the best silver prints may be obtained.
All, or most of those processes, however, involve the making of a plate or special tissue, and are, apparently, either so complicated or difficult, as to be unmanageable by the ordinary photographer, who requires only one, or, at most, a few dozen copies, and so silver printing still remains king, in spite of its more than doubtful want of permanence, and in sturdy opposition to all its rivals.
How long it will be able to maintain this position is another question, as it is being again threatened, and by one of its old enemies. Among the many processes that have from time to time been invented or discovered, one of the most beautiful was Willis' platinotype. It had almost all the elements of popularity and yet it did not become popular.
The sensitized paper kept well and printed rapidly. Development was almost instantaneous, and the fixing was simply a wash in acidulated water. Photographers, however, are conservative, and the necessity for developing frightened them.
Then there was a patent connected with the practice of the process, although the charges connected therewith were made almost nominal, and the true photographer is affected by patents as a bull is said to be affected by a red cloth, and it is right that it should be so. For all or most that any of the many patentees know, they are indebted to those who have gone before, and so any little thing they may discover, hit against or even work out, should be freely given, as part payment of the debt incurred.
But probably that which, more than anything else, prevented the general adoption of platinum printing was the color of the prints. A prejudice in favor of some shade of brown, born of necessity, and continued mainly because of the absence of real artistic culture, refused to appreciate the beauty of the beautiful velvety blacks that had for ages been received as the best tone in which to translate color into monochrome, and insisted on having photographs printed in “photographic colors.”
The absence of gloss also in platinum prints may have been a small factor in the cause of their neglect, but only a small one, or at least it would be but a small one now, as, at the present time there are very few educated people who would prefer the tawdry gloss of a modern print to an equally good impression on a mat surface, and this is just what is claimed for the new departure in platinotype.
Some time ago Captain Pizzighelli published in the Photographische Correspondenz, a method of “printing out” platinotype printing, which bids fair to revolutionize our present methods, and may at last relegate silver printing to the shades of oblivion. A suitably sized paper is coated with a mixture of chloro-platinite of potass, sodium ferric oxalate, mercuric chloride, etc., in various proportions, according to the effect desired. Paper thus prepared could be printed out, or till an image of sufficient intensity was produced, just as in the case of sensitized albumenized paper, and fixed by simple immersion in a weak solution of hydrochloric acid, 1 to 80.
Several of our contemporaries have published the formulae recommended, but as they are confessedly incomplete, we refrain from doing so before submitting them to experimental examination. We hope, however, in an early number to give reliable working formulae.
In the meantime, Pizzighelli's discovery has already borne fruit, inasmuch as it has stimulated Willis to renewed endeavors, the result being a process by which the original platino type can be developed in the cold, and so watched and stopped just at the right moment. By a modification in the relative proportions of the material, also, great variation in the color or tone can be produced, so that any shade or color from a warm sepia to a pure black may be got at will.
So far as the question of patent rights is concerned, we are not at present in a position to say whether Pizzighelli's modification is in any way covered by Willis' patent; but, in any case, the patent will soon die a natural death, and the process will be as free and as simple as silver printing, and much more beautiful, thoroughly permanent and capable of giving the true engraving black, which nothing but the aforesaid prejudice has so long kept in the shade.
We have both processes under experiment, and shall return to the subject as soon as they are completed, or are in a reliable working form.
We intend in an early number commencing a series of articles on the construction of the optical lantern, with a view to enable those of our readers who may be unable or unwilling to pay the large price demanded for a first-class instrument, to construct one in every way equal to the best at a tithe of that cost.
In the meantime, as we are aware that many have commenced, or are about to commence, such construction, and that there are doubts in the minds of some as to the most suitable size of condenser to employ; sizes ranging from 3½ inches to 6 inches having their advocates, we think the statement of a few facts may prove seasonable.
Presuming that the source of light is as nearly as possible a point, and that the rays pro ceed from it in straight lines in all directions, it will be evident that the object of the condenser is to collect as many as possible of those rays, change them from a dispersing to a converging form, and send them through the picture to the objective; the object of which is to restore the dispersing form and bring the image to a focus on the screen.
As the rays of light proceed from the source in straight lines in all directions, it will be evident that the nearer a condenser of any given diameter is to that source, the greater will be the number of those rays that it will collect and transmit; but as the light must be in one of the conjugate foci, its possible proximity will, of course, depend on the length of focus of the condenser. It is generally acknowledged that the best form of condenser is one of two plano convex lenses mounted with the convex sides toward each other, and from an examination of most of those in the market, we may assume that, generally speaking, the focus of such condensers is about equal to their diameter. Supposing that to be the case, it will be evident that whatever may be the diameter of the lenses the actual number of rays collected will be the same, but that the intensity of the light from a 4-inch condenser will be '4 greater than that from one of 6 inches. Now, as the object of the condenser is to illuminate a picture, the diagonal of which does not exceed 3 inches, and as a 4-inch circle will cover a square of 2% or an oblong of 3:4 by 2%, it will be obvious that a 4-inch condenser will exhibit an ordinary lantern picture perfectly, and 3% more brilliantly than one of 6 inches. Occasionally, however, the exhibitor may come across a picture, the composition of which requires a slight elongation of the perpendicular or horizontal shape of the mat, and to meet such exceptional cases, we think that on the whole, a condenser of 4% inches should be selected as the most suitable, as its intensity will only be 1-9 less than that of the 4-inch, while it will perfectly illuminate a picture of 3' by 2% in either direction. The outcome of our examination then, is, that for all ordinary purposes a 4%-inch condenser is the one that will be found most useful, and give most general satisfaction. In our proposed series of articles on the construction and use of the lantern, we hope to illustrate this question fully, and in the meantime trust that enough has been said to help some doubters to a satisfactory decision.
Hydride of Nitrogen.—More than a year ago it was said that a Dr. Theodore Curtis had succeeded in producing this long looked for compound. It proves to be a gas, stable up to high temperatures, of a peculiar odor, soluble in water and possessing basic properties. It possesses energetic reducing properties, readily reducing cold ammoniacal silver solutions, and ought to form salts of value in photography.
Some of our experimental photographers should look into the matter; there may be fame and fortune in it.
Frilling.—Thanks to the knowledge and experience of our plate makers, we now hear little of frilling, and that only during the very hot weather. Mr. A. L. Henderson, of London, England, a good authority on everything pertaining to gelatine plates, says that even that may be entirely obviated by rubbing the plate, previous to coating with emulsion, with a one per cent solution of chrome alum. Plate makers should make a note of this.
Copyright in Photographs.—The question be tween sitter and photographer as to the right to the negative occurs much less frequently here than in some other parts of the world; but we doubt whether it is as generally known as it ought to be that the copyright in a photograph is not naturally or legally vested in either, unless the steps, as by law provided for that purpose, have been taken.
Probably as between photographer and ordinary sitter that is a matter of little importance, as by general consent and use and wont the former retains the negative, and his sense of honor as well as his self-interest prevents him from using it for any purpose other than that for which it was taken. In addition, however, to the ordinary and every-day work of the studio the photographer, especially if he be also an artist, takes advantage of many opportunities to produce pictures from groups of children, picturesque nooks and corners, attractive landscapes, popular incidents, etc., the sale of which will materially increase his, often too scanty, income.
Where the photographer does nothing more than simply print from those negatives and put the prints on the market, there is nothing to prevent any one of the unprincipled few from employing the copying camera—and some of them can use it well—and legally appropriating the artistic skill and technical ability of their more fortunate brethren, and, of course, underselling them in their own productions.
The method of securing the necessary copyright to prevent such immoral although perfectly legal appropriation is so simple and costs so little that the only way by which we can account for its neglect is in supposing that large numbers of the professional photographers are not aware of it.
To create copyright in a photograph, all that is required is that two complete copies of the print, with a printed or type-written description of its title, and $1 in cash, be sent by mail, pre paid, and addressed, “Librarian of Congress, Washington, D. C.” This must be done before the publication of the photograph. Fifty cents of the dollar is a fee for recording the title; the other fifty for the librarian's certificate, which, as a rule, will be received by return mail.
It must not be forgotten that one thing more is required to secure the advantages of copyright. Every copy that is published, sold or otherwise parted with must have one or other of the following notices printed or otherwise legibly im pressed on it: “Copyright 18... by ........ .” or “Entered according to act of congress in the year 18... by . . . . . . . . in office of the librarian of congress, at Washington.”
If anyone should desire to secure the benefit that either of those inscriptions implies, and print one or other of them on a print that has not been copyrighted, it will be well for him to remember that he thereby becomes liable to a fine of $1oo.
The copyright thus obtained gives to its holder, or anyone to whom it may be assigned, the exclusive right to publish such photographs for twenty-eight years, and within six months of the expiring of that time an extension of fourteen years may be obtained on proper application.
A New Photographic Association for Chicago.—We have been aware that for some time there has been a desire for something in the form of a camera club or photographic association, on a larger and more complete scale than anything of the kind hitherto existing in Chicago, and that some time ago a company was incorporated for the purpose of carrying it out. We now understand that a preliminary meeting has been held and that arrangements will soon be in progress, which, it is expected, will eventuate in a large and influential club, with a local habitation which shall include hall for meetings, library and reading-room, and ample darkroom accommodation for experimental purposes. In a city of such wealth and business energy as Chicago, an organization of this kind ought to be a success. It will, no doubt, require pretty heavy dues and initiation fees to keep it going, and we hope the more wealthy amateurs will not forget their less fortunate brethren in fixing them. We would throw out a hint that the difficulty might be overcome by instituting a class of associates, who, for such fees as would be within their means, could enjoy all the privileges of the club except a share in its management.
(FROM THE “BRITISH Journal of PHOTOGRAPHY.”)
Notwithstanding all that has been written and said in favor of the numerous other methods for adding to the opacity of gelatine negative images, it is probable that the one which involves the treatment of the silver deposit with mercuric chloride is the more widely followed at the present time. We must ascribe this preference to two principal causes, namely, the operation of the law which insures the survival of the fittest and the general recognition of the suitability of the method for normal purposes. Add to this that photographers are inclined to regard the oft-repeated statement that the employment of this agent is bound up with considerable uncertainty in the quality of the results, negative and positive, as unconfirmed by experience, and that it is the opinion of many of them that the charge originally made years since against the comparative permanence of negatives treated with Hg C12 has been decisively refuted, and we have before us sufficient evidence to warrant the belief that the lengthened trial which mercurial intensification has had has, on the whole, demonstrated that its adoption has been practically as well as theoretically justified.
There is, of course, no room for doubt that the mercury process for enhancing the printing density of gelatine negatives has, in the hands of many workers, skillful and the reverse, resulted in complete failure, thus giving rise to much scepticism as to the value of the method, and tending to prejudice it in the eyes of those who might otherwise have ventured to give it a trial. The reason for this is not easily assigned, for as it is impossible to cast any blame upon a process which has met with such widespread acceptance, so also one naturally hesitates to assume that those who have complained of their non-success have been altogether to blame. In stating the latter point, however, one is reminded of the immense diversity there is in the plans of procedure of both amateurs and professionals. Take, for instance, the first condition essential to succcess with mercurial intensification, namely, that the negative shall be “free" from sodium hyposulphite. Many consider that the film may be so freed, after fixation, by the hasty passage of the negative through two or three changes of water; others prefer a soaking of several hours duration; while others, again, lay great store upon the employment of specific eleminators of hyposulphite; and there are those who consider that a clearing solution answers equally well. Now, between any two of these plans there can be no effective comparison, hence it will be apparent that what one may term the negative and positive ends of the scale are so remote that between them there is room for a very wide range of results, and that although each of these methods is employed with the object of “freeing" the film from the sodium salt—an object which is considered by the sponsor of the particular method to be thereby attained—such, conceivably, is not often the case, and, as a matter of fact, could not be. We have here, then, the probable origin of the failure of mercurial intensification in many hands, namely, the lack of uniformity in the means employed for securing the complete immunity of the film from hyposulphite.
Dismissing any doubts as to the permanency or uncertainty of the negative after treatment with mercury and a re-agent—provided, of course, that care has been taken to fit the image for intensification, and that an intelligent super vision has been exercised over the few but vital operations of which intensification is made up it has undoubtedly seemed to many that there was room for improvement in at least two important details, namely, in regard to the graduation of the degree of density obtainable, and also in the color of the completed negative. In respect of the first reservation, it is notorious that recourse is usually had to taking things as they come, a plan which, while possessing all the elements of simplicity, has not anything else in its favor. Without doubt, this laissez-faire system has, on the whole, answered tolerably well, because, as a rule, a negative that is subjected to intensification is generally so weak and thin that any increase in its opacity, whether slight or great, becomes such a manifest improve ment that the operator is content not to inquire too closely into the exact relation which the increased deposit will bear to the original silver nucleus, so long as it is apparent that he will be able to get a positive print with a little more vigor and contrast than formerly. It is not, however, in such cases as this that the capabilities of an intensification process correctly exhibit themselves, but rather in particular instances, where only a slight increase of density is required, or it is desired to bring a thin negative up to the exact density of another, in fact, in the latitude of power it affords, a lack of what may be attributed—first, to the great difficulty in judging when the desired stage of density is reached; secondly, to the comparatively slow action of the mercuric chloride in “bleaching" the image, which may give rise to the impression that the limit of its power is touched when the positive impression seen through the glass side of the plate is first visible, as after this its subsequetn action is slow. As to color, it has always seemed that it would be a distinct improvement in the appearance of a negative if the deep brown that follows upon the blackening of the bleached picture with N H a could be exchanged for one that was really black and obtained at will, and that if, in so imparting another color, the means of additionally increasing opacity were also at hand. Ammonia is an exceedingly powerful but unstable re-agent, to which cause probably we may trace the variations in its “blackening” properties. It is surprising, seeing how objectionable is its use to a great many, that its employment continues so extensive when there are many efficient substitutes at hand, of which mention is made hereunder.
Now, if to a solution containing twenty grains of mercuric bichloride in each ounce we add a solution of potassium hydrate of the same strength, immediate turbidity, followed by the rapid formation of a white precipitate, occurs. The potash solution should be added slowly, and stopped the instant precipitation commences to take place. The effect of increasing it to excess would be to insure the formation of the yellow precipitate of mercuric oxide, which is not capable of entering into combination with metallic silver. If the turbid solution be allowed to stand for a short time it will become clear, but this should be anticipated by at once adding, for each ounce of the mercury-potassium solution, half a dram of hydrochloric acid, and briskly agitating the bottle, when the turbidity will rapidly disappear, the precipitate will dissolve and the solution will be found to have acquired a remarkable degree of clearness, and be absolutely bright and colorless.
Washed over a gelatine negative image that has previously undergone whatever treatment is selected to remove stains or hyposulphite, or, if none of these be present, that has been soaked and well rubbed with a little wool to get rid of adhering substances contained in the water it was soaked in, a solution composed as above described appears to have the property of hastening the formation of the double salt of mercury and silver, and, consequently, of bleaching the image with corresponding rapidity. This bleaching, moreover, consists not merely of a perfunctory alteration in the appearance in the image, but is, as the term implies, a thorough whitening of it. When a plain solution of mercury is employed, the alteration in color is very slow and gradual, passing respectively throughout a whitely brown, a faint yellow and a gray stage, at which latter point the solution is usually removed and the picture placed in water. In the present case, the change, though gradual, is not nearly so slow, while in a very short space of time the bleaching acquires a degree of intensity beyond which it would be unsafe to allow it to go.
In the few experiments made it has been found that intensification with this compound solution proceeds in three well-defined stages, namely, the gray, at which an appreciable increase of opacity has been obtained, the semi-white, which imparts considerable density, and the white, which may be taken as full or normal density. The washing that follows the removal of the mercury solution should be thorough, the plate allowed to soak for a quarter of an hour and the picture rubbed with a little wool; while it will be advantageous to avoid direct daylight during the progress of the intensification, a precaution that has got to be regarded as unnecessary.
In connection with the blackening of the image, it is curious and instructive, as illustrative of the tenacious conservatism that exists among the photographic community, to survey the fact that although there is at hand for the purpose quite a number of re-agents every whit as efficacious as ammonia liquor, far more pleasant to employ, and not subject to the vagaries attendant upon volatilization, there seems with many little inclination to cast it aside, although they are probably to be ranked with those who express themselves dissatisfied with it. Ammonia for negative work is, so to speak, more powerful, more incisive, than either soda or potash, in cases of under-exposure, but here its positive advantages abruptly stop, while to its contra account are the undoubted facts that with many commercial gelatine films its use involves great risks, and even with those that notoriously “stand" it, the effect of forcing with it is to aggravate whatever evils in the way of colored fog or iridescent markings the film is inherently subject to. But this by the way. Following upon mercurial intensification it is undoubtedly prone to browning, not blackening the image. Indeed, the precise color the negative will pre sent by transmitted light after treatment with solution of ammonia is usually mere conjecture, superficial indications, when the plate is in the porcelain tray, being by no means to be relied upon.
The use of solutions of the carbonates of potassium or sodium in the same relative proportions as those employed for development will give results not inferior to those obtained with ammonia, and will really “blacken” the bleached image. For the carbonates the hydrates may also be substituted, while equally good effects may be secured by either of the sulphites, and in an emergency resource may even be had to a brief immersion in the hypo sulphite fixing bath, but as this would necessitate a prolonged washing afterward it is not otherwise advisable. The re-agents named simply change the color of the picture and in no way influence its density; if it is thought, after the removal of the mercury solution, that intensification has not been allowed to proceed quite far enough the deficiency of intensity may be made up by dissolving in the alkaline solution three or four grains of hydroquinone, when the higher degree of opacity will be secured. A less marked effect may also be obtained by blackening with a plain solution of hydroquinone containing four grains to the ounce. To be sure these solutions will change color, but little apprehension need be entertained that they will stain the film. On a former occasion doubt was cast on the intensifying powers of hydroquinone, but these experiments point to the conclusion that this useful re-agent may be so employed, if not in a total, at least a partial degree, while not improbably we have much yet to learn as to its other characteristics.
Mention of hydroquinone and its properties reminds the writer of a little experience with it that goes to confirm the concluding conjecture of the last paragraph. To a solution consisting of twenty grains of hydroquinone dissolved in two ounces of water, half a dram of pure sulphuric acid was accidentally added, when de composition of the hydroquinone at once commenced, the solution changed to a light brown color and a dark green glistening precipitate of slight specific gravity was formed. Upon filtering the solution the precipitate was returned to the bottle and again made up to the original strength of the aqueous hydroquinone. The brown liquid that was filtered off was then made up with its relative proportions of meta-bisulphite of potash and potassium hydrate to a one-solution developer, which instantly turned a beautiful “old port" color. Experiment to ascertain whether this solution which, theoretically, contained only the two gaseous constituents of the molecule of hydroquinone, had any power of developing the photographic image, demonstrated that its capacity in this respect was in no appreciable degree less than would have been expected of the un decomposed re-agent. The decomposed solution also appreciably blackened the mercurially bleached image, which quickly acquired several irremovable prismatic hues. In like manner the dark glistening precipitate when re-dissolved in water, and made up with the alkali into a developing solution, exhibited the same properties as those described with the filtered solution. One might infer from this that the stability of hydro quinone, as a reducer of the photographic image of silver bromide, was not easily destroyed.
Pure wax . . . . . . . . 5oo parts.
Gum elemi....... 10 "
Oil of lavender. . .300 parts.
Benzole...... . . . . 200 “
There is perhaps no quality in a photograph more easily recognized and more difficult to define than brilliancy. The maker of photographs too often sets before himself only two conditions of perfection in his pictures; they ought to be brilliant and sharply defined, and any falling short in these matters either qualifies his satisfaction or enhances his disgust. And there is considerable reason in his taking this view of things, for the majority of those who buy or inspect his handiwork set so high a value upon these qualities that he feels bound to cater for his patrons or his friends. If he is a professional he must earn his living, and if he is an amateur he must win approbation.
Now we have not the slightest desire to depreciate these qualities; they are both very essential in degree, but they are not the aim and end of photography. There are other points to be at tended to of far greater importance. Sometimes there is a charm in softness as opposed to sharpness, and excessive brilliancy may be as much out of place in a picture as flatness or fog.
But what is brilliancy? It is not wholly due to the negative, because the method of printing and the surface of the finished picture have much to do with it. On the other hand, the negative has a large share in determining the character of the print in this matter.
A brilliant negative will not of necessity fur nish a brilliant print, and the negative may err in either direction. It may be not up to printing density, or it may be of such a character as to give a hard print, and in neither case lack the quality under discussion. This brings us to an important factor in the case, namely, the illumination of the photograph. All pictures are viewed to disadvantage in an unsuitable light, and this is especially to be noticed in transparencies. In looking at a plate, whether it is a negative or a positive, one naturally adjusts the illumination to its density, holding it in front of a sheet of white paper, or a lamp flame, or up to the sky, so as to get the best effect. But the printing power of a negative obviously is not determined by the manner of looking at it.
There are some who consider that brilliancy is only to be attained by the presence of a certain small area of “clear glass" in the negative, and they talk of clear glass as if clearness were an absolute property. It is very doubtful, indeed, whether in any good gelatine negative there is any part without a deposit of silver, though no such should appear to exist. We think it probably easy to demonstrate experimentally the presence of silver in all such cases. But whether this be so or not, we doubt whether there is any “clearness" in a gelatine negative possible that would not print a deeper tint in a given time if the film were scraped away altogether. As soon as the absoluteness of transparency is given up —and it exists only in the imaginations of those who believe in it—the whole notion about the necessity of “clear glass” where brilliancy is a desideratum falls to the ground. Given the required range of gradation, the clearer or more transparent the plate is in the deepest shadows, the more quickly will it furnish a print; but given a sensitive paper that does not deteriorate in the printing frame, an equal brilliancy might, we submit, be obtained with a negative that required many times as long an exposure for a print, and that had a very palpable and annoying deposit at the very deepest shadow—annoying only because of the tediousness of the work with it. It is not at all uncommon in the customary haphazard work of the average amateur to find negatives that yield brilliant enough prints if weeks instead of hours can be bestowed upon their production. We consider that the “clear glass” doctrine is exceedingly dangerous preaching; it tends to produce a hardness that passes with some for brilliancy because they do not know in what true brilliancy consists.
The surface of the print has much influence upon its brilliancy, and it is doubtless this fact that has largely, if not chiefly, enabled the albumenized paper process to survive forty years of condemnation. The amount of surface gloss desirable is a matter of taste, and we are content to leave the subject with the remarks that those to whom we should look for guidance in such things almost invariably prefer “mat surface" or non-glossy prints, and that the popular preference is moving steadily, if not rapidly, in the same direction. It is to be hoped that no reaction will set in.
The lens employed to make the negative is often credited with being an important factor in the brilliancy of the picture. A single lens is stated to be better than a doublet, and a doublet, with both its combinations cemented, we are told, is to be preferred to one with a separated combination or to a triplet, because increasing the number of surfaces leads to diminished brilliancy. No doubt this is sound theoretically, but we should like to ask whether any operator has ever practically found this difference? Of course, a multiplication of surfaces leads to an aggravated effect with a dirty lens, but with instruments kept in usable condition, as is customary with good operators, we doubt very much whether the difference in brilliancy resulting from the use of a lens with two surfaces or one with six surfaces is practically appreciable. The almost unconscious variations in exposure or development would, we believe, nullify, or even reverse, the relative effect.
The aperture of the lens has an important influence on brilliancy, if we are to accept all that we are told. But it appears to be, like the notion of “clear glass” in the negative, founded on an altogether erroneous idea of the facts of the case. Certainly, variations in aperture give variations in the image, so far as definition and allied matters are concerned, and in this way may affect the combination of qualities that goes to produce brilliancy, but the error lies in the supposition that the loss of visible brilliancy on the focusing screen corresponding to a reduction in the lens aperture, leads to an equivalent loss of vigor in the negative. And the error is founded on the idea that there is any absolute darkness in any scene that one is called upon to photograph. The darkest object is only comparatively little luminous, and we are not aware that it has yet been demonstrated, either theoretically or practically, that time and intensity are not exactly reciprocal. That is, for example, that the same effect is produced by a tenth of the light acting for ten times as long as by a unit of light acting for a unit of time.
RECENTLY I was handed four 4 by 5 negatives, with a request to make lantern slides from them. The party to whom they belonged had tried and could make nothing out of them. The negatives, when examined, proved to be as yellow as old pyro developer could make them. It appeared to be impossible to remove the stain, all the regular formulae for that purpose having been tried without success. Exposures from one up to four minutes, one foot from gas jet, were tried on two of the best known commercial lantern plates, but the results were poor, one of the plates proving very insensitive to yellow, the other not quite so much. Neither of them, however, would make even a passable lantern slide with the quality of negative I had to deal with. I had on hand part of a box of Carbutt's orthochromatic plates, 5 by 8, at least five months old; they were cut up, an exposure made of twenty seconds, and developed with hydrokinone; the result was lantern positives which for detail and transparency could not be easily matched.
EASTMAN FILMs—The working of the East man film requires from beginning to end a certain amount of care which must not be relaxed from commencement to finish. When everything goes right the whole process is easy, but occasionally a snag is struck which upsets everything.
That portion of the process which, in my estimation, presents the most difficulty is the strip ping. After having gone through all the previous processes successfully the paper obstinately refuses to come off. The cause is sometimes hard to give, it may arise from under-exposure and therefore prolonged development, the pyro thereby tanning the layer of soluble gelatine, or it may arise from the paper being too old. Whatever the cause may be, any remedy that will in future obviate this difficulty should be welcome. The process I use is as follows: After fixing the films, wash as usual; from the wash-water transfer them to a bath of dilute sulphuric acid (1 in 5oo), soak in this half an hour, then transfer to clean water and proceed as usual. This method I have tested thoroughly, having divided a roll of paper, one-half of which received the acid bath, the other half did not. The half which had been treated with acid were stripped in twenty minutes (24, 5 by 8), the other which got no acid took three hours to remove the paper, it coming off in pieces no larger than one's finger nail, although water up to the boiling point was used. In the other case, water from 110° to 120° was sufficient to cause the paper to float off.
WOULD it not be a good idea for some of our dry plate manufacturers to put on the market a plate backed with some material which could easily be removed before development? Plates so backed would be of great benefit in taking interiors, also in outdoor photography, as, where foliage is taken against a clear sky. The benefits to be derived from their use would soon gain for them a large consumption, and the little extra cost would not be grudged by the wide awake photographer, who likes to turn out good work no matter if it does cost him a little extra time or money.
A RINSE under the tap is generally considered sufficient for the negative after development, and before immersion in the fixing bath. This is not, in my estimation, enough; the washing should be thorough; five minutes soaking in running water is little enough. If the washing is not well done a powdery deposit is formed on the surface of the film which, if not removed before drying, detracts from the brilliancy of the negative. A pledget of cotton rubbed gently over the surface of the negative held under the tap suffices to remove this deposit; but it is well to prevent its formation, which can be done by removing the developer completely before fixing.
THE following method of enlarging may be of interest to some of the readers of THE BEACON. True it is not enlarging, as generally understood, but it may on occasion come in handy. Make a transferotype print in the usual way but develop it much darker than usual; the reason of this will be obvious later on. Squeegee in contact with glass and put under weight. Instead of waiting until it is dry before stripping, commence that operation five or six minutes after you have put the weight on it. If all goes right the paper will come off as usual and at the same time the film will tend to leave the glass, stretching and puckering as well. This is just what you want. Take a fine camel's-hair brush and assist the film to spread out, keeping it all the time underwater. Do not be afraid of injuring the film, it is very tough. When it is entirely free from the glass, raise the glass, film and all, out of the water, keeping it perfectly level; then, with the brush, commence in the center and force the water to the edge. When you have removed as much of the water as possible, lay the glass on a perfectly level surface to dry. The print will have gained in size at least two thirds, and by a little clever manipulation the print can be turned in the water and transferred to opal, making a non-reversed image of it.
IN making lantern slides it is impossible sometimes to avoid fog. The causes are many; the negative may be thin, or the lantern plate may not be exposed enough, etc. Whatever the cause may be, a remedy effectual in nine cases out of ten is worth giving. Of course, where the highlights are nearly as dense as the shadows, by reason of fog, this or any other remedy is of no avail; the best cure then is to make a covering glass of that plate. My method of working is as follows: Should a plate show any signs of fogging I carry the development much further than usual; after fixing I take a sufficient quantity of Farmer's reducer, prepared as follows: Ferricyanide of potassium, saturated solution, ten or fifteen drops in two ounces of normal fixing bath (Hypo. 1 to 4); a tuft of absorbent cotton is dipped in this solution; the plate is taken from the wash-water and the cotton rubbed firmly over it, favoring those places which it is desired to reduce most; plunge into clean water and commence over again; repeat until the desired effect is produced. After dodging one or two slides in this manner you will be astonished at the effects you can produce. Negatives thrown aside as unfit for slides, by reason of unequal lighting, can be brought out and made to yield positives as good as the best. Of course, care must be taken, as well as lots of time. This operation must not be hurried; the reducing solution also must be renewed about every twenty minutes as it decomposes very rapidly.
THERE is no darkroom light absolutely safe, be it ruby glass, three or four thicknesses of postoffice paper, canary medium, etc.; it is only a question of time as to fogged plates. With some lights more, others less, time is required. Keep your tray covered during development and work as far from your light as possible. Examine the progress of your plate from time to time and cover up again, but be as brief in your examination as possible. Holding the uncovered tray close up to the light during development, as many do, results only in poor, fogged negatives.
R. P. HARLEY.
(Read before the Photographic Society of Philadelphia.)
The recent completion of the great Lick telescope, and the success which has attended its use for general astronomical purposes, have been subjects of interesting discussion, both among astronomers and mechanicians, and an examination of the photographic features of the instrument may not be without interest to photographers. Before entering into a description of the attachments of the telescope which are particularly devoted to photography, a brief general account of the instrument may be necessary in order to make clear the arrangement of the parts.
As the vital point in a camera is the lens, so the objective is the great point in a telescope, and the objective of the Lick telescope, the last and greatest work of the veteran Alvan Clark, is the first and most important part of the instrument. The clear diameter of the lens is 36 inches, and it is composed of two disks of crown and flint glass respectively, both disks being cast by Feil, of Paris, and ground and figured by Mr. Clark, at Cambridgeport, Massachusetts.
The production of a satisfactory and homogeneous disk of glass, free from waves and striae of unequal density, is a most difficult matter, and in the case of the disk of crown glass a satisfactory casting was secured only after nine teen failures. The crown glass lens is a symmetrical double convex figure, both faces being worked to curves of 259.52 inches radius, and the double concave flint disk has its front face worked to a radius of 239.59 inches, and it's back face is curved to a radius of 40, ooo inches. The disks are not cemented, but are mounted 6% inches apart, the combination having a focal length of 678 inches, or 56 feet 6 inches.
This lens, the largest in the world, is mounted in a tube of cast-iron and steel, the tube being 4 feet in diameter in the middle and tapering to 3 feet at the ends. This is mounted equatorially, and some idea of the weight and solidity of the parts may be obtained from the fact that the polar axis is a steel spindle 1o feet long and 12 inches in diameter, and it alone weighs 2,700 pounds. The weight carried by this axis is about 20, ooo pounds, and in order to relieve the spindle as much as possible, a series of anti friction roilers are placed just beyond the first bearing to take a portion of the weight.
The instrument is mounted on a hollow cast iron column, built up in sections, the driving clock and regulator being placed in the column and connected by electrical control with a stand ard astronomical clock, and with the chronograph.
The control of the telescope in all its movements is effected by the numerous handles which are gathered around the eyepiece and upon the top of the column. The instrument is in tended to be controlled by the observer and an assistant on the column, although for rapid movements in right ascension and declination help may be given by an assistant on the floor. The various handles and attachments for the use of the observer are mounted on a large ring around the eyepiece, which carries the handles for clamping the instrument or giving slow motion in right ascension or in declination, and also carries the reading microscopes and finders and a small sidereal clock. Electrical switches are also provided by which the driving clock can be started or stopped, and the illumination of the divided circles controlled.
It has been customary in large telescopes to provide a chair for the observer, which followed the motion of the eye end of the instrument, but the inconveniences of this method increase with the size of the apparatus, and in the case of the Lick telescope it was decided to adopt the method proposed by Sir Howard Grubb, of making the entire floor of the dome rise and fall to bring it at all times within a convenient distance of the eyepiece. As this movable floor is 61% feet in diameter, and has a rise and fall of 16 feet, the magnitude of the task is apparent. The motion of the floor is caused by four telescopic hydraulic rams operated by a differential valve provided with an indicator which may be read in the dark. A hole in the middle of the floor provides space for the column of the telescope and for a staircase, and the entire motion of the floor is accomplished upward in less than nine minutes, and downward in five minutes.
The great dome is also controlled by hydraulic power through the medium of an endless wire rope, and in this manner the unusually heavy parts are kept as completely in hand as in the case of smaller and lighter apparatus.
The most interesting part of the outfit to photographers, lies in the accessory apparatus for use in celestial photography, and as the telescope when arranged for photography may be considered the largest camera in the world, some of its details in this direction are worthy of special notice.
The most interesting part of the outfit to photographers, lies in the accessory apparatus for use in celestial photography, and as the telescope when arranged for photography may be considered the largest camera in the world, some of its details in this direction are worthy of special notice.
In the first place, the objective was figured and corrected solely for visual purposes, and was therefore unsuited for photographic work, and in order to provide the necessary correction an auxiliary corrective lens was made to be mounted in front of the original lens. This corrective lens is of crown
This corrective lens is of crown glass 33 inches in diameter. When this lens is placed in front of the regular objective, it not only makes all the corrections necessary for photographic work, but also shortens the focal length of the entire combination Io feet, thus making the position of the plate-holder come some distance within the eyepiece. This permits the entire apparatus about the eyepiece to remain undisturbed when the telescope is used for photography, the holder and its attachments being introduced into the tube through an opening in the side.
Within the tube at this point is a carriage composed of two rings of about the inside diameter of the tube, these rings being connected together by four rods. On these rods the sliding portion of the carriage is fitted, and by means of screws the frame may be moved and adjusted in any desired position. As the rays of light from celestial objects are practically parallel, the camera is of fixed focus, and when the proper point is once determined there is no use for any focusing screen, and the screw motion which acts on the carriage is provided with a pointer which indicates the exact focus. This pointer traverses past an index which is graduated for various degrees of temperature, for the expansion and contraction of the great tube would otherwise destroy the sharpness of the image.
The plate-holder, 23 inches square, carries a plate 20” by 20’’, and slides into grooves in the carriage, where it is held by a spring. The holder is provided with shutters which are operated from without the tube, so that exposures may be made in that manner.
When an enlarged image is desired, the holder is not slid into the carriage, but in its place is put an enlarging lens of 2 inches aperture and 12 inches focus. This magnifies the image formed by the large objective, and projects it toward the eyepiece, which is then removed, and a small camera substituted to receive the enlarged image. This enlarging lens is fitted with a time and instantaneous shutter, operated from without the tube, so that enlarged photographs of the image formed at the focus of the telescope may be made direct, without being reproduced as in ordinary methods of enlarging.
Although the telescope as a camera has been in use such a short time, some very satisfactory work has been done, and the great light-gathering power of the 36-inch objective will doubtless reveal detail in the photographic work that a smaller instrument would be unable to secure.
Great credit is due to Messrs. Warner & Swasey, of Cleveland, Ohio, for the skill which they have displayed in the designs for the mounting of the telescope, and for the care with which the work has been executed, and the success of the great camera is due quite as much to the designer of the mechanism as to the maker of the lens.
HENRY HARRISON SUPLEE.
About the beginning of a new year one is apt to decidedly higher than during any previous year. Retouching is still, in too many places, much overdone, but there is a marked increase in the artistic quality, and abundant evidence is almost everywhere found of the desirable fact that year by year photographers, in greater and greater numbers, are awakening to the knowledge that something more than technical excellence and “fine chemical effect" is necessary to make a picture. As an outcome of this, and not less gratifying, the foolish outcry against the so called “cheap Johns” has materially subsided, and photographers, as they become really entitled to be called artists, begin to see, as they should have seen long ago, that the true way to get a full and fair reward for their labor is to make the result of that labor really worthy of the reward.
Another welcome improvement is the echo like dying away of the silly outcry against amateurs. The amateur is really the professional photographer's best friend. From the days of Daguerre and Talbot down to the present time, almost every progressive step has been made by the amateur, and in the nature of things, it must always be so. But if possible, even more directly the amateur is the friend of the professional by giving an impetus to the popularity of the art, and it is well for the former that it is so, as under any circumstances the latter has come to stay.
If evidence of this be required, we have it in the fact that, during the past year, more than during any former like period, the number of amateurs has been enlarged until there is scarcely a family in which a camera is not to be found; or a question, when a birthday or Christmas time approaches, as to what would be the most acceptable gift, a photographic outfit being a foregone conclusion.
Platinum printing is again coming to the front, or rather, is becoming really popular, as it should have done long ago. Pizzighelli's claim to having devised a method of “printing out," that required only a wash in acidulated water, seems to have stirred up Willis—the father of platinum printing—to devise a method by which the prints may be developed in the cold, and although neither are quite perfect, enough has been done to give an impetus to platinum work that will ultimately lead to perfection. This is undoubtedly a move in the right direction, and it is encouraging to learn that a large number of the best works in some of the recent exhibitions were printed in platinum.
Ever since the first dry collodion, or collodio albumen plate was made, there has been an earnest desire to find a suitable substitute for glass as a basis on which to place the sensitive material. Many substances have been proposed and several have met with a certain degree of popularity, although all were more or less faulty. The time has now arrived when photographers may fairly congratulate themselves on the accomplishment of the desire. Curiously enough, the complete substitute is not found in one, but in two methods, each preéminently suited for its special kind of work.
The American stripping film, as first in the field, may be noticed first. This is not, of course, of quite recent introduction; but, as it takes some time, and often considerable time, to induce the general photographic public to take kindly to any new departure, and as the film has been recently very much improved, I am within the mark in saying that its present degree of popularity has been mainly attained during the past year. The American film, as a substitute for glass, has fewer disadvantages and a greater number of good qualities than any of its predecessors, and, for the tourist amateur, at least, its employment in the roll holder will soon be universal.
No doubt a description of the various processes necessary between exposure and removal of the finished film negative from the glass seems complicated, and at a first attempt to carry them out in practice, may seem trouble some; but a very little practice will show that it is not so. The exposures are made with a minimum of trouble and maximum of comfort; the development may be deferred till the return home after many weeks, and is as easy as on glass, and need only occupy a little of the time, as a dozen may be developed at once in one dish. There is, or was, a general idea that stripping should follow development as soon as possible, but it is not so. If well washed after fixing, and especially if the last but one, two changes of water be faintly acidulated with sulphuric acid, the negatives may be laid, face up, on blotting paper, or even newspapers, allowed to dry, and thereafter kept for any length of time before stripping. At the present writing, I have on hand a number of rolls exposed during July, August and September. As a leisure hour presents itself, I cut off a dozen exposures, develop, fix and wash, and lay them on an old news paper. When dry they are put away till a convenient season, and from time to time, as many of them stripped as I can find plates to lay them down on, and I have not lost a single negative since the first batch. Before squeegeeing the negatives on the glass, they, of course, must be moistened or soaked in water, and to this I think it an advantage to add a few drops of sulphuric acid. I also strongly recommend the gelatine skin to be moistened in equal parts of water and alcohol to which a trace of ammonia and a few drops of glycerine has been added, instead of plain water.
Working in this way, and with water about 130° F the paper never fails to float off with less than half a minute of gentle rocking, and if instead of throwing this paper away, it be laid, gelatine side up, on an old newspaper till dry, it makes the very best basis for blueprints that I have ever come across. Before coating with the mixture of ammonia citrate of iron and ferri cyanide of potass, the paper should be slightly moistened with a damp sponge, not on the gelatine side. On paper so prepared I have recently got prints of a richer and more brilliant blue than I ever succeeded in producing by any process of sizing that has been suggested.
I suppose I need not feel ashamed to confess, as I erred in good company, that at first I lost a few skins from using the smooth, or rubber side of the cloth in squeegeeing them down on the film.
The remedy, as most people now know, is to use, for that purpose, the cloth side. The rubber side is best in laying the unstripped negative on the glass; but as the gelatine skin adheres to it firmer than to the film, the arrangement must be reversed.
Notwithstanding the beauty and simplicity of the American film, however, I doubt whether it would ever have to any very great extent, dis placed glass for what may be called home work. The seeming complication and the actual time required to work it to the end, combined with the cost of skins, collodion and rubber solution must have to a large extent, stood in its way, except for outdoor work; and, therefore, I believe that the advent of celluloid as introduced by Mr. Carbutt, will be warmly wel comed by the votaries of the camera.
The celluloid film may be manipulated in every way as an ordinary dry plate, except perhaps that a slightly different arrangement of the plate-holder may be required. Our ingenious camera makers will soon make that all right, and those who do not care to go to the expense of new holders, can, as Mr. Carbutt showed at a meeting of the Philadelphia Society, make suitable carriers by bending the edges of ferro type plates.
On the whole, I am satisfied that in the American and celluloid films we have now perfect substitutes for glass for both in and out door work.
I hear a little grumbling at the price of celluloid, because it is a little higher than glass ; but that is an ill that will cure itself. A large demand will induce a large supply, and that will bring about cheaper methods of production. I have paid 25 cents an ounce for collodion, and seen it come gradually down to about a tenth of that price, and have no doubt that by and by the celluloid maker will compete with the maker of glass on favorable terms.
But the one item that should be above all other occurrences throughout the year, interesting to photographers, is the reproduction by E. L. Wilson, of the rare and invaluable practical essays on art, and illustrations, by John Burnett.
There is profound truth in the oft-quoted saying that artists, like poets, are born, not made ; but although the divine afflatus may fall on only a chosen few, those who are not so favored may, to a large extent, make up for its lack, by careful study of the works and writings of those who are. The general public, and especially that section of it that includes the photographers' best and most frequent patrons, is becoming daily more and more convinced that something more than technical excellence is required in a picture, and the time is not far distant when a successful photographer must be in fact, as well as in name, an artist. The law of the survival of the fittest is now well established, and the members of the photographic profession may be sure that they are no exception to it, and that they must either keep up with the times and supply such work as an enlightened public demands, or like the weak ones, go to the wall.
Thanks, however, to Mr. Wilson, the material for study, in a compact and easily comprehended form, and at a very moderate cost, is provided in Burnett's art essays, including as they do, composition, light and shade, and the education of the eye, the three things that are most essential for a photographer to know. I hope the editor will not think that I want to give Mr. Wilson a free advertisement, as he hasn't even sent me a copy, but as the object of THE BEACON is to promote the advancement of photography, I am fully persuaded that if it could induce every photographer in the United States to carefully read Burnett's art essays it would have done more for that advancement than have all the photographic journals that have been published during the past year.
CHICAGO LANTERN SLIDE CLUB.
The annual general meeting for the election of officers, etc., was held in the hall, 96 State street, on the evening of Tuesday, the 15th inst., the president, Dr. John Nicol, in the chair. The minutes of a special meeting, including a resolution to purchase a first-class double lantern, were read and approved, except in so far as regards the question of the focus of the objectives, which was left open for future consideration. A motion, of which previous notice had been given, to increase the annual dues from $2 to $5, and the initiation fee from $3 to $10, led to considerable discussion, and ultimately it was resolved to fix them at $3 and $5, respectively.
The reports of the treasurer and secretary were then read and adopted. The treasurer's report showed a balance of some $8 against the club, but as two sums, of $1o each, had been paid to the Lantern Exchange, and both appeared in one financial year, the income and expenditure of the year are practically balanced.
The secretary's report entered somewhat fully into the transactions of the year and contained several suggestions, the adoption of which would increase the benefits of the club. It was stated that the two hundred and thirty slides contributed during the year had been the work of only seventeen members, and to, as far as possible, remove the anomaly, it was suggested that in exchange for each dozen contributed the contributor should receive a certain number of lantern slide plates, to be paid for either by an assessment on the members generally, or on those who do not contribute.
The election of officers was then proceeded with, and the following gentlemen were unanimously appointed: President, C. H. Gould ; treasurer, J. M. Forbes; secretary, W. A. Morse, 125 Wabash avenue. The lantern, under the management of Dr. McIntosh, of the McIntosh Optical Company, was then brought into play, and the slides contributed by the Amateur Photographic Society of New York, brilliantly illuminated, were submitted to the large audience. The slides were, on the whole, superior to the set contributed by the same society last year, and a considerable number of them were of very high quality. It is quite obvious, from recent exhibitions, that the Exchange is exercising a beneficial influence on the members generally.
We have somewhere got the impression that a number of the slides contributed to the Exchange by the Chicago Lantern Slide Club, were, by the directors of the Exchange, rejected on account of not being in compliance with the somewhat hard and fast line laid down by the convention as to the size of mats. If this be so, we rejoice to see that it has been departed from, in this instance at least, as many of the best pictures were covered, and judiciously covered by mats of irregular size. The only possible excuse for requiring uniformity in the mats of lantern pictures is that they facilitate correct registration for the so-called dissolving purposes. But surely the directors of the Exchange should be above pandering to the childish craze for “dissolving” lanterns. The exhibitor, with a single lantern, if his audience should object to the panoramic method of passing the slides, can effect the change from one to another in various well known ways, any one of which is better than the usual jerk, so absurdly called dissolving.
Of course, the dissolving lantern has its uses, but they are confined to the exhibition of pictures specially prepared for the purpose, and known as “effects,” and to employ it for the exhibition of ordinary photographic transparencies, is to waste both money and material in doing what would have been better done by a single lantern.
Any hard and fast line as to shape or position of mat must stint the growth of true artistic feeling, as the true artist will feel the necessity of cutting off, here a little foreground, there a little sky, and from others a little on one or other of the sides, and so bring the composition more nearly into accordance with his conception of true art.
The secretary received a hearty vote of thanks for the energy and zeal he had shown in the affairs of the club, and the meeting adjourned.
SILVER PRINTS on plain paper, to which “encaustic paste" has been applied in the manner of French Polish, possess a beauty altogether unapproachable by anything that can be produced on albumenized paper.
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY OF CHICAGO.
An unusually well attended meeting of this society was held in the rooms, 96 State street, on Wednesday evening, the 16th inst., Prof. Hough in the chair.
The election of officers for the ensuing year resulted in the appointment of Judge I. B. Brad well as president; as vice-presidents, Prof. Hough and C. F. Charles; secretary, C. Gen tile; treasurer, G. A. Douglas; and executive committee, M. J. Steffens, G. Kleine and Frank Place.
It was agreed to incorporate the society under the laws of the state, and the officers were instructed to carry out the resolution.
After some discussion, it was resolved to postpone the consideration of a proposal to send an exhibit to the forthcoming exposition at Paris, to a future meeting.
The question of holding an annual photographic exhibition in Chicago was then considered, and evolved an animated discussion. It was ultimately resolved that such an exhibition should be held some time in April, and that prizes and diplomas be awarded, and it was remitted to the officers and committee to make the necessary arrangements.
HAWAIIAN CAMERA CLUB.
A number of the amateur photographers of this city met yesterday evening at the rooms of the Chamber of Commerce, and organized as the “Hawaiian Camera Club,” with the following officers;
President, C. Hedemann.
Vice-president, George W. Smith.
Secretary-treasurer, A. W. Richardson.
A committee was appointed to draft by-laws and report at a meeting to be held four weeks hence. The objects of the organization are, generally, mutual improvement in the photographic art, the collection of views taken by amateurs, etc. Similar societies are in existence throughout the United States and in the Australian Colonies. Visitors from one to another are always made welcome, and the societies hold communication and exchanges with each other. There are about fifty amateurs in these Islands, which ought to be enough material to make the organization prosperous and useful. The public has an interest in it, as one function assumed by the Camera Club is the holding of exhibitions.
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY OF PHILADELPHIA.
At the December meeting of this society, with the president, Mr. Graff, in the chair, the secretary reported that he had received notice of the formation of “The Photographic Club of Paris,” France, and a cordial invitation to those members who may visit that city, to the club's laboratories, darkrooms, etc. A vote of thanks was tendered to the club.
Mr. H. H. Suplee read a paper on “the Largest Camera in the World" (see page 11), and presented to the society, on behalf of Messrs. Warner & Swassey, of Cincinnati, the builders of the Lick telescope, three fine photographs showing the instrument as mounted in the observatory.
Dr. Charles Mitchell gave an interesting account of a photographic trip to the White mountain region of New Hampshire, and showed a large number of fine slides as a result of the trip.
Mr. John Carbutt showed some very beautiful transparencies made on his new flexible negative films. They were simply mounted between two sheets of plain glass, no translucent medium being required. An excellent portrait negative, made on the film by Mr. Gutekunst, was also shown. Mr. Carbutt also exhibited a simple method of exposing the films in an ordinary plate holder. It consisted in simply bending the edges of a ferrotype plate so that a film could be inserted and firmly held. He also directed attention to the absence of halation under circumstances that would certainly produce it on glass plates, and in reply to a question, said that the tendency to curl in drying could be obviated by soaking the film for a few minutes in a one to thirty solution of glycerine.
The usual votes of thanks were passed, and the meeting adjourned.
The annual meeting was held on Wednesday evening, January 2. The annual report of the executive committee recited the principal events of interest in the history of the society for the past year. During the year, thirty-six new members had been elected and five resignations and one death had occurred, making a net increase of thirty members. The active and life members on December 31, numbered one hundred and eighty-two. The joint exhibition committee announced that the third annual joint exhibition of the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York, the Boston Camera Club and this society would be held at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, in this city, during the two weeks beginning April 8. Probably three or four evenings would be devoted to the display of lantern slides. Circulars, giving full particulars of the meeting, will be issued during the present month.
The election for officers and committees for 1889 resulted as follows:
President, Frederic Graff.
Vice-presidents, John G. Bullock, Joseph H. Burroughs.
Secretary, Robert S. Redfield.
Treasurer, Samuel M. Fox.
Executive Committee, Dr. Herbert M. Howe, Dr. Ellerslie Wallace, William A. Dripps.
Excursion Committee, Samuel Sartain, John Carbutt, W. D. H. Wilson.
Committee on Membership, Henry T. Coates, John Bartlett, George Vaux, Jr., David Pepper, Edward W. Keene, Joseph H. Burroughs, Dr. Charles L. Mitchell, Frank Bement, W. H. Walmsley.
Committee on Revision of Minutes and Articles for Publication, John C. Browne, John G. Bul lock, Robert S. Redfield.
Committee on Lantern Slides, Edmund Stir ling, Frank Bement, William H. Rau.
The president, in accepting the chair for the year 1889, made the following interesting re marks :
“I assure you I most highly appreciate the honor you have conferred by again electing me to preside over the affairs of the Photographic Society, in which I have been so long and deeply interested. I take great pleasure in congratulating you upon the prosperity of the society, and that it so ably maintains its reputation and influence in advancing the interest now so general in the useful, instructive and pleasurable pursuit in which we are all engaged. The reports of our executive committee and officers are so full of details that nothing more is left in that direction for me to say. We certainly have reason to feel proud of the papers read and of the work of our members from time to time exhibited. I feel quite satisfied that in the high character of the specimens shown here of lantern slides, neg atives and prints, it is evident that we not only hold our own but steadily improve.
“I desire particularly to call attention to the exhibition about to be held jointly with the Boston Camera Club and the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York, at the Academy of Fine Arts, commencing April 8, 1889, and sincerely hope that the members will use all their efforts to make the exhibition an eminently creditable one, even more so than that held three years since at the same place.
“I will not detain you by any attempt to recapitulate the new processes that have been brought forward during the past year. This is done so fully in the many journals now published, to be found upon our library table, that I should only repeat, probably with fewer details and less instruction, what they have already said. I think we have every reason to look forward to a year even more full of improvement than the past, which, while it has not been re markable, perhaps, for any very startling new methods, has most certainly brought forth many valuable improvements on old ones. The introduction of new supports for the sensitive medium as substitutes for glass, increased sensitiveness of films and more portable apparatus has added to the facility of working and given renewed inducement for amateurs to indulge in photography as a study and amusement.
“I believe all have been pleased with the neat and comfortable room we now occupy. It is, however, quite evident, from the rapid and gratifying increase in our membership, that before the year expires we shall probably have outgrown the limits of our present desirable quarters.
“I cannot close without referring to the great loss sustained by the society in the death of Mr. S. Fisher Corlies. You all know the deep interest that he took in our welfare; how he was always ready to help those not so fully educated to the work as himself; and how as a warm friend and companion we must miss him and mourn his loss.
“I most sincerely hope that the year 1889 will be to all of you one full of success and prosperity.”
THE SOCIETY OF AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHERS OF NEW YORK.
The winter season of the society, which began at the regular meeting on December 11, 1888, promises to be quite an active one ; the meetings have been largely attended and subjects of present interest discussed. On the date above mentioned papers were read on “Collodio-Bromide Emulsions" (followed by a practical demonstration), by F. C. Beach ; “Development by Separate Solutions,” by David Bachrach, Jr., of Baltimore, Maryland; and on “Observations on Substances Feebly Sensitive to Light," by J. W. Osborn. There was also exhibited two new detective cameras, one being Steinheils, provided with a magazine and plate changing attachment of some novelty, by Mr. Ramsperger, and the other one, by Dr. J. J. Higgins, after his own design. The chemical committee made an interesting report on “Preservatives for Silver Paper, Hydroquinone and the Various Flash Light Compounds." Several donations were mentioned. Wilson's “Mosaics," for 1889, was presented by Dr. Higgins. Several new Voightlander landscape lenses, with specimen negatives, were exhibited by Benjamin French & Co., of Boston, and sample prints on leather ized salted papers, made by John R. Clemons, of Philadelphia, were shown. A number of new persons were named as having been recently elected members, and a letter was read from Mr. H. V. Parsell, donating to the society his extra membership certificates, which were accepted with an enthusiastic vote of thanks. At the close of the meeting, Mr. Beach threw on the screen a few slides, made by the collodio bromide process; also a few brought by Mr. H. J. Newton and Dr. J. J. Higgins. They were quite effective in showing what clear high-lights can be obtained by this process.
The informal exhibition of prints, numbering nearly six hundred, at the rooms of the society, beginning on November 30, and terminating on December 19, attracted a large number of visitors and proved of great value to the members. A few of the pictures were greatly admired by the Russian artist, Verestchagin.
On the evening of December 19, 1888, Mr. F. C. Beach entertained the members with a special lantern exhibition, illustrating a “Carriage Drive from Stratford to Putney,” including also an illustration of the moving of a large frame house, from “Wheeler's Mills” down the Housatonic River to Bridgeport, Connecticut, a distance of some fifteen miles, by water. Mr. Beach explained the views, criticising their defects, while Mr. J. Wells Champney kindly spoke of their artistic merits. Following his views, were about twenty-five miscellaneous slides by different members. Mr. Beach made the negatives and slides at odd times during the summer months. The idea was quite an interesting one and may lead others to illustrate special subjects. Mr. Simpson and Mr. Cobb worked the lantern.
On Friday evening, December 28, 1888, the regular monthly lantern-slide exhibition occurred, and attracted an overflowing audience. It included slides contributed to the American Interchange by the Louisville, Kentucky, and New Orleans camera clubs and about fifty slides of their own members. Many of the New Orleans views were very interesting and em braced quite a variety of subjects. Mr. A. L. Simpson and Mr. Charles Simpson, of the society, had some superior slides, Mr. Charles Simpson's “Before and After the Plunge" being specially striking. His latter view was of a lot of bathers floating around in the water in amusing and grotesque positions. The lantern was operated by Messrs. Beach and Cobb.
The first regular meeting of 1889 was held on the evening of January 8, and was largely attended, several ladies being among the audience. It embraced a very interesting resumé of the opinions of about forty prominent amateurs throughout the country, as arranged and formulated by Mr. H. T. Duffield, on “The Detective Camera,” how to use it, its defects and what improvements can be made. Mr. Duffield had sent out about one hundred and fifty inquiries. His paper, embodying the opinions of well-known men was quite instructive, and brought out a variety of ideas that could not be collected in any other way. Preference was made by many for a camera that was adapted to carry films and did away with plate-holders and the drawing of slides; others thought the shutters should be between the lenses to secure even illumination, while many seemed to think it was very essential to have a ready means of measuring the rapidity of the shutter. A majority were in favor of a finder. About fifteen different patterns or models of detective cameras were placed on exhibition; among them was a new one shown by Mr. Plimpton, and made by Stock Bros., in which twenty-four 4 by 5 plates were stored in a magazine behind the lens, and were shifted from front to rear by being dropped, after exposure, into a hinged wood pocket, which operated very easily and was a novel feature.
The balance of the evening was taken up with some remarks on “Developers and the Development of Extremely Rapid Plates," by Mr. A. Peebles Smith. He advocated starting development with pyro and soda until the details were well out, and then transferring the plate to a solution of hydroquinone alone, where it would rapidly gain in density and come out clear and brilliant. He preferred the separate solution plan of development. Following Mr. Smith, was an interesting demonstration of the platinotype process by Mr. A. C. Wilmerding. -
Mr. Grisdale explained his method of cutting out different varieties of lantern slide mats by the use of brass forms; he used an ordinary printing frame and a wheel cutter. Resolutions of respect to the memory of Edward Anthony and C. Smith Lee were unanimously passed. Announcement was made that a space of 9 by 13 feet had been secured for exhibits of the society at the coming Universal Paris Exposition, Mr. David Williams to act as chairman of a committee to take charge of them. The third annual joint exhibition will occur in Philadelphia. A special lantern slide exhibition, illustrating the open air statuary of New York, is to be given on January 18, by Mr. Charles Simpson, and the regular exhibition on January 25, will include the Philadelphia Amateur Photographers' Club's slides and several by their own members. On January 31, a commemorative meeting, celebrating the birth of photography, will be held, as in 1839, on that date, Fox Talbot first published his method of making negatives on paper.
A pile of the ever welcome annuals lie on our table, and in respect to its age we take first
The British Journal Almanac.—London: Henry Greenwood & Co. So far as bulk is concerned, this is certainly the best 50 cents' worth of photographic literature that has as yet issued from the press. It contains 884 pages, 365—just one for each day in the year—is reading matter and 519 of advertisements. It should not, however, be undervalued because of its large number of the latter, as they really afford very valuable information.
What may be called the frontispiece is an “Argentotype print" from an “at home portrait,” by which we suppose is meant a negative taken in an ordinary room, of H. R. H. the Princess Victoria of Teck. -
The print is good, but the publishers have, we think, been unfortunate in their choice of a subject. The princess, as represented in the print, is “long-headed" in the literal sense, whatever she may be in the intellectual.
A specimen of “coltotype printing,” by Waterloo & Sons, is very satisfactory. It is a good composition and gives abundant evidence of the value of the process.
After a careful perusal of the various articles that make up the bulk of the reading matter, we are inclined to think that it is hardly up to the high standard of recent years, but the information it contains is so varied, and generally so correct and practical, that it ought to be found in the hands of every photographer who wishes to keep abreast of the times.
Next in point of seniority comes
Photographic Mosaics.—Edward L. Wilson, New York. The editor of “Mosaics,” less ambitious than the editor of the British annual, or perhaps in deference to the rushing habit of his readers, contents himself with a modest 176 pages, including advertisements.
The first thirty pages of reading matter are appropriated by the editor himself in what he calls “tracing over old lines,” and in which he touches lightly and genially on various matters, strengthening his own opinions by well-selected quotations from well-known authors.
Probably the most valuable part of the book are the pages devoted to art, and so good are they that if it contained nothing else, it would be well worth the price charged for it, to all for whom the camera keeps the pot boiling.
The following quotation from Mr. Enoch Root should be indelibly impressed on the mind of every photographer: “Mere manipulative skill in producing highly finished work is not art, although a most desirable and praiseworthy requisite in obtaining the favor of the general public. But that public is becoming, day by day, more cognizant of other desirable qualities, and the time is not far distant when fine polish and characterless retouching will no longer serve to conceal awkward posing, bad lighting and in artistic arrangement.”
Whenever there are two sides to a question concerning photography, Dr. Wilson is generally on the right one; but surely he makes a slip in (on page 27) indorsing the amusing but utterly untenable contention of Mr. W. T. Gregg, that lenses to be used with the “flash light.” should be corrected differently from those for use with solar rays.
Forty-six contributors occupy the other Ioo pages with articles of sound practical value, and may be read over and over again with profit.
The Moss Engraving Company furnish three whole-page illustrations, showing the value of “moss-type” for the reproduction of photographic negatives, but surely the company's artist was abroad when the negative of Lake George was selected, unless the object was to show photographers “how not to do it.” It is an upright, 4% inches high, with the horizon line practically in the middle, and just 2% inches of bare unbroken water by way of foreground. Even this, however, may be made to convey a good practical lesson. If a strip of paper be laid across the bottom of the picture, so as to leave only one inch of the foreground visible, it will be seen that a weak, unnatural composition is at once changed into a charming little picture.
The Albertype Company, of New York, also supply a very fine example of a “power press print” from a negative; certainly the best of that kind of work we have seen, and the Levytype Company, of Philadelphia, send a reproduction in half-tone directly from the negative that leaves little indeed to be desired.
The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac—Scovill Manufacturing Company, Aew York. Adopting the metaphor employed by the editor in his preface to this book, we are glad to say that the good ship “Annual and Almanac" is still as worthy of being classed A 1, as when she started on her first voyage round the world, and that she embarks on her third in every respect as well, and in some respects better “found " than on her first.
The 327 pages contain 99 original articles, contributed by as many writers, many of them the acknowledged leaders in photographic investigation, and there are few subjects of interest to photographers on which the inquirer after information may not find here just what he desires.
A valuable feature of this annual is the large number of useful tables that have been compiled or copied, and photographers should especially appreciate the over thirty pages of carefully selected formulae, which ranges all the way from wet collodion to transferring to wood for engraving.
To a certain class of readers, at least, not the least interesting of the contents will be the sixteen illustrations, including as they do, speci mens by various mechanical processes, namely, photogravure, photo-engraving, Meisenbach, Ives, phototype, Pretsch, Allgeyer, Leimlypie, mosstype, etc. Where all are good, and show that American printers can fully hold their own against those of other countries who have wrought longer at that class of work, it is difficult to specify the actual degrees of merit; but, on the whole, we think the photogravure.
“Watering His Horse,” from a negative by Mr. George B. Wood, is entitled to the premier place.
From very commonplace material the artist has evolved a beautifully artistic composition, and the Photogravure Company, of New York, has done it full justice in the printing.
Almost, if not altogether, equal to it is “A Scene in the Tyrolese Alps,” by the Ives' process, the work of the Crosscup & West Engraving Company. If this has a fault, it is that the ink is somewhat gray in tone, but it is so nearly perfect, that it seems hypercritical to even suggest an improvement.
“Yes'm, I'm Coming," by Gutekunst's photo type, is also a beautiful example of mechanical printing, and so also are the specimens of moss type, especially the standing figure opposite page 328. All of those are indeed so beautifully perfect that they leave little, if indeed any room for improvement.
But there is a fly in the ointment, and as the more precious the ointment the more obnoxious the fly, we wonder why the editor left it there. The frontispiece is generally supposed to be in the place of honor, but here we find it occupied by a portrait of Miss Lillian Russell, printed on American “Aristo" paper, by the American Aristotype Company.
The portrait affords abundant evidence that the model is suitable for the highest class of artistic work, but it shows also that photographers of even the reputation of Mr. Falk may make an occasional slip. It is a poor print, from a badly lighted negative of a not very well posed figure, and would not do credit to the showcase of a fifth-rate photographer.
We write thus freely of the picture in question solely in the interest of photography, both as a science and an art. We know that such specimens are, as they ought to be, regarded by many earnest workers throughout the country as models up to which to work, and consequently those who are responsible for their publication should see that they select only the finest of the wheat.
With that one exception, however, we heartily commend the American Annual as highly credit able to all concerned in its production; equally valuable to the professional and the amateur.
The Year-Book of Photography and Photographic News Almanac.—London. Piper and Carter. The year-book is, this year, fully up to its usual standard, and while content with fewer articles than some of its contemporaries, Carter. everyone is good, and most of them are full of thoroughly practical information.
An especially interesting feature is over forty pages of “jottings," which include a wide range of subjects and contain concise information on almost everything a photographer wants to know.
The frontispiece is a Woodbury type from a negative by Thomas Fall, a specimen of what is called “the new clear margin process." At page 3o we are told that “Woodbury, during his lifetime, made numerous experiments with a view of making a method of printing with clear margins practicable, but none of those experiments, which mostly involved complex mechanical appliances, resulted in a working method." Now we know that but for a little touchiness, Mr. Woodbury might have been able to print with clear margins within a few months after the invention of his process. We don't think the story has ever been in print, but it is known to several of his friends, and we had it at the time of its occurrence from Mr. McGlashon himself.
Mr. McGlashon was a copperplate printer on a large scale, and also an early and keen photographer. Mr. Woodbury and he met, and got on very friendly terms in Melbourne, Australia, and kept up a correspondence after they had both returned, the one to London, the other to Edinburgh.
Mr. McGlashon, from his connection with printing from flat surfaces, and all the dodges therewith connected, saw the advantage of being able to print Woodburytype with clear margins, and found an excuse for running up to London to show his old friend how it could easily and simply be done. Mr. Woodbury was one of the most genial of men, but subject to occasional fits of illness, during which he may have been a little impatient of any suggestions as to possible improvements in his newest creation. Be that as it may, Mr. McGlashon's friendly intentions seem to have been misunderstood, as his account of the meeting was substantially as follows: “I told him that I had come to London mainly for the purpose of helping him to make his new process probably the greatest commercial success that had as yet been evolved from photography. He replied, somewhat snappishly, that there was not much connected with it that he did not know, and as I had no interest in it one way or another, I dried up."
At page 129, Mr. D. Winstanley, an enthusiastic experimentalist, but not always a reliable guide, tells how he has converted Descartes' “cartesian diver,” a very old philosophical toy, into a reliable barometer, and promises by and by to make it also applicable to the measurement of solar radiance, and the light of day, and so, of course, of much interest to photographers. Those of our readers who do not recognize the toy by its name may remember it as a tall, cylindrical glass vessel, filled to within a few inches of the top with water, and having, floating in the liquid, a hollow glass figure of a clown, or demon, etc. The mouth of the jar is covered by a stretched membrane, gentle pressure upon which causes the figure to rise and fall. It will be indeed strange if this toy, constructed so long ago as the time of Descartes, should really prove to be, with suitable modifications, the long looked for actinometer.
T. C. Hepworth gives an amusing description of an attempt to develop an under-exposed plate in the presence of his friend Brown. Brown didn't think much of photography, and couldn't see the fun in poring over a plate which gave no results; and so, possibly thinking to put an end to the sederunt, dashed into the measure, containing ammonia and pyro, the half of his glass of hot whisky punch, offering at the same time to stand a new hat if his friend could bring out a picture with the mixture. The contents of the measure were poured over the obstinate plate, with the result that an image at once flashed up, and ended in a good negative. The moral, of course, is, when a plate is obstinate enough to resist the ordinary developer, try what a little hot water will do. The whisky, lemon and sugar may be omitted, or employed in another way.
Photography – Iliffe & Son, London. – We gladly extend the right hand of fellowship to this journal, the latest candidate for public favor. The first ten numbers have come to hand, and speak well for future success, which we heartily wish it. We regret, however, to notice what we consider a serious retrograde movement, in an editorial in the number for January 17, the burden of which is a plea for judges of pictures at exhibitions to consider technical qualities first, and artistic merit as merely a secondary affair. This is putting the cart before the horse with a vengeance, and is the last thought that should enter the head of anyone who aims at the real advancement of photography.
As surely as matter is subordinate to mind, so surely must mere technique be subordinate to art; and so long as the ultimate aim of photography is the production of pictures, composition, light and shade and true atmospheric effects will be of vastly more importance than clear, sharp, clean negatives.
We earnestly hope our friend, the Photos rapher, will reconsider the matter, and join heart and hand with those who are laboring hard to lift photography up to the highest possible level.
SIR,-Each of the photographic journals in sists more loudly than another that its object is the advancement of photography, but what about the interests of photographers? Most of the journals devote a great deal of space to processes, and tell us all about every new dodge in manipulation, and some of them — your own especially — let no opportunity pass of urging us to give more and more attention to art, so that our work shall be as artistically as it is technically perfect. Now, this is all very well, and all very necessary, but I venture to suggest that you and your brethren might and ought to do something more for us, something that will advance the interests of photographers, as well as the art they practice. As a class, we labor under one serious grievance that should be remedied, and would be, I think, if the subject was properly taken hold of by the press, I mean the absurdly high premiums we are required to pay for insurance. In the days of wet collodion, when ether, alcohol and gun-cotton were staple articles in every studio, and the risk of fire at a maximum, it was only fair that premiums should bear some relation to risk; but, now that such volatile and explosive material are banished from the photographic laboratory, and that the chances of a fire occurring during any of the operations carried on by the ordinary photographer are really and absolutely less than in the process of cooking his dinner, some decided and effective step should be taken to induce the insurance offices to remove photographers from the extra hazardous to the ordinary class risks. I am aware that at the Chicago convention, the subject was brought up, and a committee appointed to deal with insurance agents, but, so far as I can learn, nothing has come out of the appointment, at least I know that I still have to pay the very high supposed extra risk.
SIR,-A prominent member of the New York Amateur Photographer's Society takes me somewhat severely to task for a criticism which appeared in a Chicago contemporary of their pictures, as recently exhibited before the Chicago Lantern Slide Club. Now, I have no objection to fair honest criticism of such pictures as we show at our meetings, especially at such meetings as we invite the friends of members to attend ; as such criticism is the truest spur that leads to perfection. But such criticism as appeared in the journal referred to, and which I had not seen till my attention was called to it by my correspondent, is neither fair nor honest, and could have been written only by one who is either ignorant of what lantern pictures ought to be, or who has some alterior object in saying what he knows to be not true. I do not say that all the pictures contributed by the New York Society were perfect – none of us have reached that stage yet—but that “some of them were good,” and “the majority might be better,” conveys a decidedly false impression of their quality, while the charge “that many were seriously damaged by numerous spots and markings,” is simply untrue. I do not know what you have said about them in THE BEACON, but I know that at least it will be a fair and honest expression of your opinion, and therefore feel willing to let the merits of the pictures rest on that. W. A. MORSE, Secretary Chicago Lantern Slide Club.
LITHOGRAPHER.—You have been trying to do what is a very difficult job; to get a negative suitable for “process work" on a rapid gelatine plate. Rapidity means large molecules of silver bromide, and large molecules mean feeble, or at least semi-translucent high lights. You are wrong, however, in supposing that you must go back to wet collodion to get negatives suitable for your work. There are gelatino-bromide plates in the market. Cramer's “No. 15” and the “Old Reliable Rockford,” for example, on which you can get with ease, clear lines and perfect opacity in the whites, if you give a tolerably short exposure, and employ plenty of pyrgallol, a little bromide, and a very little alkali in the developer. While we think you are mistaken in supposing you can make plates cheaper than you can buy them, we gladly give you a formula by which, if you are the experienced photographer you claim to be, you may get negatives perfectly suited to your purpose: Silver nitrate......... - - - - Potassium bromide Potassium iodide. Heinrich's gelatin Water............ - Place the gelatine and potassium bromide and iodide in any convenient wide-mouthed vessel to which heat can be applied, or which can be placed in a vessel of hot water. Let it stand till the gelatine is swollen, and then heat till it is dissolved. Dissolve the silver nitrate in two ounces of the water, heat it to about the same temperature and add it gradually to the solution of gelatine with constant shaking or stirring. When quite cold, divide into shreds by squeezing through embroidery canvas and wash in cold water. When the sóluble salts have been removed, drain or slightly press out the superfluous water, and melt with just sufficient heat to make a fluid emulsion. Plates coated with this, while much slower than the average modern commercial article, are quick enough for copying purposes, and, with proper treatment, will give negatives suited for almost all varieties of process work. M. LE GRAY, Texas.—The fault is not in the plates but in your omission to dust them well before development. We had supposed you too much of an expérienced traveler not to know that railway dust penetrates everywhere. Before putting your plates into the developing tray dust them well with a stiff bristle brush, or, perhaps better still, an old, soft silk handkerchief, and the “starry array” of pin-holes of which you complain will trouble you no more. ENQUIRER, Elmira.—We fear the gentleman to whom you allude is inclined occasionally to draw a long bow, at least we know no means by which a plate that has been exposed for a whole day to bright light, could be restored to its original state. The batch of plates, however, that were only exposed for a few seconds to the diffused light of your window need not be lost.
Communications connected with the editorial or business departments of the “Beacon ” should be addressed to the BEACON PUBLISHING CO.,
 Quick plates were a faster exposure, glass-plate negative. Petapixel has a recent article about a creative chemist who's been making them available as of 2018.
 The f-number system, although created in the mid 1800s, was in competition with other arbitrary systems lens and camera manufacturers would use in with the goal of simplifying photography for amature users. Companies such as Kodak used their own arbitrary systems well into the early1900s.