Lecture to Edinburgh Photographic Society -
1 October 1919
Edinburgh Photographic Society
Past, Present and Future
Patrick Turner Mackintosh
Between 1914 and 1935, Patrick Turner Mackintosh delivered
eight lectures to Wednesday Evening Meetings at EPS. Three
of these, in October 1918, 1919 and 1920 were President's Opening
The subject he chose in 1919 was: The Edinburgh Photographic
Society: Past, Present and Future.
P T Mackintosh began by looking back
on the early years of EPS, and of the PSS
before it. He referred to:
- Sir David Brewster and his
opening address to the PSS on 8 May 1856, in which he referred to
the two current problems in photography:
- the want of colour in
- the fading and occasional
disappearance of photographs.
- The establishment of EPS on
20 February 1861, offering less technical and more social meetings
- Sir James Marwick, the first
President of EPS, who was Town Clerk of Edinburgh and later became
Town Clerk of Glasgow.
- Mungo Ponton who made early
researches into chromo compounds
- C G H Kinnear who invented
the taper bellows now (in 1919)
- J G Tunny, a watchmaker
before becoming a photographer.
- Dr Piazzi Smyth who
photographed the Pyramids on microscopic slides.
- D T K Drummond who travelled
the country carrying a large tent in which he prepared his plates
and developed his negatives.
Plate and Dry Plate
P T Mackintosh explained that dry
plates were introduced in the late 1860s, but at first was so slow
that many photographers preferred to continue using wet plates.
advantage of the slow plate, so far as I am aware, was that if our
friend the photographer was taking what the poets call a sylvan
glen, he might expose the plate, pose himself in the centre of the
subject, and after an interval of fifteen minutes or half an hour,
return to his camera and replace the cap."
P T Mackintosh commented on the
difficulties of early landscape photography:
"Behold now our
photographer setting forth on his travels. In his left hand,
he carried an immense camera with an inflexible stand, and in his
right a large carpet bag containing his glass plates in racks, his
various chemicals and other paraphernalia.
Slung over his shoulder might be a carboy of
distilled water, and, if the supply was likely to run out he might
add to his impedimenta, a still and worm, which, if occasion served,
be applied to other purposes detrimental to the revenue of the
Crown. If, like Mr Drummond, he carried his tent with
him, that, I suppose was fastened around his neck."
Looking to the future, P T Mackintosh
possibilities lie before photography, the development for example of
colour photography, photo-sculpture, astronomical photography,
photo-telegraphy, X-ray photography and under-sea photography.
Men nowadays do
not grow old at fifty-nine and there seems no reason in this world
why a Society which has attained that age should exhibit any signs
of senile decay.
He looked forward with confidence to
the day when the Society would have
"an active and
enthusiastic membership running into thousands, ... with funds to
move into premises worthy of the Society, equipped with spacious
lecture hall, library and smoke-room, affording adequate wall space
for the noble collection of photographs now perforce stored in our
lumber rooms, and providing every worker with adequate dark rooms,
oceans of hypo, and the latest developing, printing and enlarging
All quotes above are from P T Mackintosh's 1919
lecture to EPS. See
Transactions of EPS Nov 1919, pp.4-10.