Re: OT, Historical Photo Question

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 10/10/05-09:44:40 PM Z
Message-id: <>

On Mon, 10 Oct 2005, Dan Burkholder wrote:

>> Some "old time" black and white photographers use to take two
>> photographs, one for foreground and one for sky and "meld" them some
>> how into one plate (back in the days of glass plates). Just at a talk
>> with Robert Glenn Ketchum who was talking about it. Do you know what
>> photographers there were, the name of the process and where I might
>> find out more info on it?

It was standard procedure for much of the 19th century... As Katharine
says, some photographers refined it into an art in itself, but any print
of the day that had clouds AND "normal" tone landscape can safely be
assumed to have done it by "printing in."

I happened yesterday to come across this reference looking for something
else in Post-Factory #3. (It's so long ago, it was like reading it for the
first time. I, #1, had the itch to simplify the layout, but, #2, was
amazed at how much was crammed in.) Anyway, page 18, in "Notes to
'Violating the Medium,' under "Legitimate Trickery":

QUOTE: ...[W]hen handwork was intended for greater "realism", it was
unremarked, even expected. For instance, "Picture Making for Pleasure and
Profit" by T. Stith Baldwin" [1903] had this passage subtitled
"Printing-In Clouds": "The time is past and gone when a landscape
photograph having a plain white sky is considered complete. It has been
recognized that a photograph, like any other picture, must show clouds of
some sort, if it has any sky at all, and, as clouds -- requiring a very
much shorter exposure than the majority of terrestrial objects -- rarely
appear upon a landscape negative, it is necessary to introduce them into
the print by a second exposure to light under a special cloud negative."
[pages 177-8].

The old books are full of references to the practice, descriptions,
probably instructions.... Most landscape photographers had a set of "cloud
negatives", or several sets for different styles of landscape. Their
colleagues also loved to find the lighting of the printed-in clouds wrong
for the rest of the shadows in the scene.... and issued Awful Warnings on
the topic.... Etc. etc. etc.

Received on Mon Oct 10 21:44:51 2005

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