View Cameras, film, and enlargers in the 1870's

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by wayne_toberman, May 20, 2006.

  1. Were enlagers, film, and view cameras in use producing PAPER PRINTS from up to
    16x20 view cameras in the early 1870's? If not, how could paper prints from
    that SPECIFIC era be made?
  2. Prints in the 1870's would be contact prints, and yes, there were 16x20 view cameras to make the matching glass plate negatives. Mind you, 16x20 prints were "high end". I saw one 16x20 of that era at an exhibition at Brandeis last year, it was quite the image of an entire mining town.

    Albumen paper was the dominant paper in that era. A printing-out paper, exposures a few hours in the sun, then fixed and toned. A non-faded albumen print is lovely, with deep blacks. Toning could be cold or warm. Unfortunately, most are faded. Kind of unstable, since a key ingredient, egg whites, wasn't very predictable or consistent.

    Enlargements became practical with developing-out papers, like our modern papers. Available from the mid 1880's, but not popular until the late 1890's.

    Consider building an enlarger without electric light bulbs, and you will see why it was contact prints in the 1870's.
  3. The first paper printing process was announced by William Henry Fox-Talbot in 1839, shortly after news of the Daguerrotype's discovery became public (he called it "photogenic drawing" and later "calotype" or "Talbotype"). So paper prints have been around from the earliest beginnings of photography and by the 1870s paper prints had surpassed the Daguerrotype in terms of public popularity. Printing was contact printing in one form or another (e.g. carbon, albumen, etc.)Wet plates were used instead of film. View camera sizes went up to 20x24, probably some even larger, which is why large prints could be made despite the absence of enlargers. A description of the various processes involved in making paper prints at that time would take up far too much space here.
  4. I had the pleasure of viewing a very wide (around 20") panoramic done in Germany around 1860. When the subject was German architecture or trains, the sky was the limit.

    FWIW to the OP - To the best of my recollection, electricity was only becoming economical in urban USA around 1911.

    And many consumer snapshot prints made up to the fifties were merely contact prints. Look to the long line of 6x9cm, for example.
  5. jbq


    FWIW, the formal portraits of my mother and her siblings, shot in rural France in the early 1960s, were shot on 5x7 (13x18cm, actually) and contact-printed.
  6. Just for the record - Albumen prints do not require a FEW HOURS IN THE SUN.

    The process is slow, but not that slow. I make albumen prints utilizing information from hand written notes by the ancestor of a friend who was making these fine prints in the late 1890's.

    When I received these I was asked not to share them, so I keep them to myself. There is very little difference in the methods of that time, and those of today.

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