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Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photogrpahers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.  Details of who owns the copyright of photographs and other mateiral on this web site.

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Early Photographic Processes

Platinotype

From 1874

(and Palladium from 1920s)

Discovery and History

Pioneer

William Willis jun. (1841-1923) had been been looking for ways to make photographs with the most suitable metal he cold think of.

In 1874, the British Journal of Photography announced his Platinum Printing process.  It gave a report of the process on 4 June 1875.

William Willis jun. continued to refine his process until 1878.

Comments from
1884

WK Burton, in his book ABC of Modern Photography gave the following brief comments on the Platinotype process:

"All the appliances for platinum printing are to be had from the Platinotype Company, 26 Southampton Row, High Holborn, London WC, and with them the instructions so full and concise, are issued, that we need only briefly describe the process."

[See below]

"The one thing which requires great constant attention is the keeping the paper thoroughly dry.  It has to be kept in a metal case with a small quantity of calcium chloride, when not actually in the frames, and when in these, it is necessary to keep a thin sheet of india-rubber behind it."

 

End of the Platinum Era

Most platinum printing ended around 1914, as the platinum was needed to manufacture high explosives for World War I

 

Process

Comments from
1870s

Creating the Print

1.  Size plain paper with starch.  (The paper should have been first floated for 2 or 3 seconds on a three-grain solution of nitrate of silver.)

2.  Clip the paper on top of a sheet of glass. 

3.  Pour a mixture of ferric oxalate and chloro-platinite on to the centre of the sheet.  Spread with a cotton wool pad then make even with a soft fabric.

4.  Place the paper on a frame to dry.

5.  Place a negative in the frame over the paper, and expose to light (for about a fifth of the time that would be required for a print on albumenised silver paper.)

6.  At this stage, a feint image will have formed, from the ferrous oxalate, but no image yet from the platinum

Platinotype Print  -  before development

7.  Draw the pictures over the surface of a warm solution of potassic oxalate (prepared earlier by the decomposition of carbonate of potash and oxalic acid).

8.  The picture immediately appears.

Platinotype  -  After development

The result should be a strong rich picture, in a warm rich velvety-black tone.

[BJP, 4 Jun 1875:  p.265]

Finishing the Print

At this stage, the print is permanent, but further steps can be taken to improve it.

9.  Place the print in a very weak solution of oxalic acid. (This dissolves the ferric oxalate, and brings out pure whites in the print.)  Then, rinse in plain water.

10. To give the print a warmer appearance, it can be gold-toned, then placed in a bath of hyposulphite of soda, then rinsed.

[BJP, 4 Jun 1875:  p.265]

Comments from
1880s

Creating the Print

WK Burton, in his book ABC of Modern Photography, published in 1884, gave a brief account of the Platinotype process.  This differs in some respects from the 1875 description given above:

-  The prints have to be developed by floating them on the surface of a hot solution containing 130 grains of oxalate of potash to each ounce of water.  A flat iron dish is the best to operate with.

-  The solution is kept at a temperature of 170 or 180 Fahr., by means of a spirit lamp or Bunsen burner.  The process of development is a most beautiful one.  The print, before it is developed is only just visible.  It is placed thus on the surface of the solution and in a few seconds there is removed a picture most perfect in colour and gradation of tone.

-  The developed print is transferred to a dish containing one part of hydrochloric acid in sixty parts of water.  It passes to a second, and then to a third, similar bath, remaining a few minutes in each.

-  It is then washed for about a quarter of an hour in several changes of water, after which it is finished.

[ABC of Modern Photography]

The Negative

WK Burton added:

-  Negatives which are just somewhat too dense for silver printing give excellent results with platinum.

-  Any negative, however, which will give a good silver print, will give a good platinum print.

[ABC of Modern Photography]

Comments from
1890s

Papers

A Horsley Hinton, in his book Platinotype Printing, published in 1898 referred to there being two types of platinotype paper:

-  Paper for the hot process:  this paper is developed in a hot solution of oxalate of potash

-  Paper for the cold process:  this paper is developed in a cold solution of oxalate of potash.

 

Both of these papers were available in a choice of surfaces, differing in stoutness and smoothness:

A  -  smooth, thin

B  -  smooth, stout

C  -  rough, very stout

[Platinotype Printing: A Horsley Hinton, p.21]

Toning

A Horsley Hinton gave advice on toning.  Some of his chemicals suggested were expensive (and may well not be safe by current standards).  In particular, he recommended:

-  uranium toning to produce a brown or red brown colour with ordinary black-printing platinotype paper.

-  adding bichloride of mercury to the oxalate developer to produce browner colour.

-  gold toning to produce colder bluer blacker tones.

[Platinotype Printing: A Horsley Hinton, pp.67-75]

Palladium

in the

1920s

Platinum became very expensive in the 1920s, causing photographers to change from using platinum to palladium salts.  The two processes were very similar and produced similar results.

Result

Platinotype Print of a Couple by 'Back & White'

Please click here to see more examples of Platinotype photos.

Platinotype photos were highly regarded.  They often had a good range of grey tones from silver to black, but could also be produced in warm brown tones. 

The platinum was embedded in the fibres of the paper and did not fade.

1870s

The British Journal of Photography [4 Jun 187, p.265] said:

"The tones of the pictures thus produced are most excellent, and the latter possess a charm and brilliancy we have never seen in a silver print upon plain paper, added to which they are so permanent as to resist all the usual destructive tests."

 

1880s

WK Burton, in his 1884 book described the colour of Platinotype prints as being:

"not brown or purple, but a feint greyish-brown colour."

 

[ABC of Modern Photography]

1890s

A Horsley Hinton, in his book Platinotype Printing, published in 1898 wrote:

"Whilst amongst most persons of more or less cultivated tastes the effects secured by platinotype and by carbon printing are preferred, one still meets many who will unhesitatingly proclaim their preference for the more old-fashioned silver print ... ..."

"Thus, for example, if I have prints on platinotype paper and on a fine glossy-surfaced gelatine or albumen paper, and lay them before a child of twelve years, I expect him to show preference for the latter (the mere brightness and glossiness are a sufficiently superior attraction);  or if I show them to my servant or a person of less cultivation, I shall be surprised if he does not show preference for the print of high surface, and which appears to him to possess  properties which the other lacks; ... ... ... ... ..."

"But when later on we grow to value such prints and pictures for the sake of the thoughts they suggest, for the pleasure they give as suggestions of nature in her more beautiful phases, or for the faithful reminiscence of a familiar face, then it is that the qualities of platinotype are appreciated, quite apart from the question of permanence, which is the proverbial character of the platinotype."

[Platinotype Printing: A Horsley Hinton, p.7]

In Edinburgh 

EPS Meeting

Three Papers were read during the Edinburgh Photographic Society's Meeting on 3 February 1897.  The three speakers spoke in favour of:

platinum paper

the carbon process

gelatino-chloride matt paper [a printing-out paper]

R Ayton presented the Paper on the Platinotype process.

He commented that no process had done more than the Platinotype to advance the artistic and pictorial aspects of photography.

He said:

"A few years after the introducition of platinum paper,  by Mr Willis, it became one of the most popular matt surface papers in the market, and it may be said to be the leading black and white paper of to-day.

In proof of this it is only necessary to look round the many exhibitions held in various parts of the country.   The high artistic excellence shown there is due for the most part to the use of platinum paper."

He spoke of the advantages of the paper:

"- its simplicity, visible or semi-visible image, no toning, no hypo.

-  its permanency

-  its beauty of results:  velvety blacks and pure whites

-  its suitability for negatives of different density.

-  its artistic qualities.  With it we are able to imitate, if not to equal the old engravings and record Nature in al her moos."

Robert Ayton wend on to discuss the making of platinum paper, the choice of negative, developing, printing and washing the paper.  He ended his remarks, saying:

"-There is only one disadvantage to platinum paper at the present time, and that is the price in comparison to other papers, but taking into consideration its simplicity of manipulation and beauty of result, the cost should be no drawback to the photographer who aims at artistic results."

[BJP: 1897, p.111  AND Transactions of EPS, March 1897, pp.404-6

Professional Photographers

Some of Edinburgh's photographers produced platinotype prints, often the same size as cabinet prints. but usually on card with plane back,  the photographer's name being incorporated as a signature or embossed with a blind stamp. 

Here are three Edinburgh photographer who produced platinotype prints:

Black & White

Platinotype Print of a Couple by 'Back & White'

D & W Prophet

    Platinotype Print of a Family  -  D & W Prophet

Yerbury & Son

    Platinotype print of a lady and child  -  Yernury & Son  -  Churchhill, Edinburgh

Restoring Discoloured Platinum Prints

The Edinburgh photographic dealer, A H Baird, in his journal 'Photographic Chat', gave the following advice on platinum prints that had become discoloured, due to the supporting paper turning yellowish:

"Prints can be revived again by the method of Chapman Jones, which is as follows:

A few drops of a solution of hypochlorite are added to ten per cent solution of hydrochloric acid until the odour of chlorine is distinctly perceptible.

The prints are then immersed in the acidified chlorine water which has the effect of bleaching out all the discolouration and leaving the image in its pristine sharpness, richness and purity.

It will be seen that this method is closely allied to the familiar one bleaching discoloured engravings by means of a solution of peroxide of hydrogen in water."

[Photographic Chat:  October 1902, p.10]

 

 

Early Photography -  More pages

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Links to Other Pages

EdinPhoto - Home Page      Please send me an e-mail ...  with your questions, comments, suggestions or news.      At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.            At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.

Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photogrpahers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.  Details of who owns the copyright of photographs and other mateiral on this web site.

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Frequently Asked Questions

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