Wednesday Meetings - Overview
the 1880s, dry plates were widely used.
John McKean in 1882 gave a lecture:
The Modern Photographer:
His Power and Appliances
have seen and heard much of what has been done in the progressive art of
photography, in this the gelatine era of its existence, the unlimited
rapidity of the modern dry plate, and its application to almost every
branch of science. Amongst the mysterious orbs of heaven and the rolling
clouds, from Alpine heights to the deepest caverns of the earth, the
camera is capable of revealing to the eye of man a mighty store of
was still a place for "do it yourself".
McKean described the advantages of the Dry Plate:
its simplicity of preparation:
its extreme rapidity and
its certainty and convenience in the studio and field.
recommended that members should make their own Dry Plates, and went on
to give a practical demonstration. The
simplicity of preparation he
described involved the use of:
"silver nitrate, ammonia bromide, ammonia
chloride, ammonia liquor, Nelson’s No 2 gelatine, potassium iodide and
distilled water. The
ingredients should be mixed as directed, first heated in two bottles and a
jam pot over a fire or Bunsen burner to 140o shuttering out
all actinic light from the room, then at a later stage boiled or
“cooked” for 30 minutes"
McKean finished his lecture and demonstration saying:
"I know that I have been
treading on the toes of commercial plate-makers, but I do it in the
interest of the photographic profession;
indeed I question the application of the word
to those who do not make their own plates
- artist if you will, but no more like our fathers in this
respect than I to Hercules”.
glimpse at the state of development of
photography was given by William Forgan in December 1886.
Opening annual viewing of members’ work, with about 260
pictures and other exhibits on display, he delivered
a lecture entitled:
Century of Photography
Century in question was the 19th Century, which he described
"a Century of the invention and almost perfection of photography."
Forgan looked back to 1829:
the first attempts were made to produce an image by chemical means."
Within his own recollection, he spoke of the time when
Daguerre was the only process.
"The more rapid and easier manipulated collodian then came, and the
daguerreotype disappeared. Now,
collodion has to give way to the still more rapid gelatine."
Looking forward …
same year, Andrew Pringle, gave his lecture:
encouraged members to strive towards improvements and new processes and
to share their experiences with other members.
Edinburgh Society has for long been pre-eminent for its numbers, for its
pecuniary stability, not to say superfluity - for the value
of its researches, for the pleasantness of its social reunions, and for
the amicability of the intercourse between man and man; but I would fain
see our Society come to the front as a propagating agent of new
work, as foster-mother to progression,
as the Society of the future."
suggesting possible areas for improvement, including better supports for
the emulsion in negative making, and a simple and speedy way of fixing a
camera on its stand Mr Pringle ended his lecture with the words:
“Noo ye’ll be for gaun
tae yer beds.”
the 1880s, the Society retained its interest in Photography and Art,
with titles such as:
An Early Taste for art and its training: the importance of this to
the beginners in photography
The main subject of lectures throughout the decade was processing the
photograph - both the chemical and practical aspects of the work. There was discussion of mercury intensifiers, potash
developers, ferric reducers, ammonia, pyrogallic acid,
dry plates, stripping film, gelatine emulsion, paper negatives and
several talks on lantern slides.
construction of camera bellows
A flexible window for the dark tent
“photographoscope” - a new apparatus for exhibiting photographs.
were lectures on:
well as lectures on equipment, there were also displays of equipment and
photographs at many of the EPS meetings.
Here are some of the items that were exhibited during the 1884-85
patent washing apparatus
exposure shutters and view finders
A machine for coating paper with emulsion
negatives with prints and enlargements from them
of prints on new gelatine paper
Shadbrooke’s photographs from a balloon.
featured at several of the Society’s meetings -There were lectures on:
Spain, Norway, Tangiers
to home were:
to go with a Camera in and about Edinburgh
in 1886, the first of several lectures on:
to go with a Camera in and about Edinburgh
McKean spoke of his meeting with an artist in oil:
“I sprang from my saddle, and there within a mile o’ Edinburgh toon, we indulged in an animated discussion
on art versus photography and cycling versus railway ….. Lighting my
lamp, I mounted the iron steed once more, and after heating up my friend
the artist in a gentle trot for half-a-mile, I left him at the first
lamp-post, with the full conviction that photography and cycling after
all were too fast for him.”
Closer to home,
A Hunter gave a lecture in 1885 entitled:
to go in with a Camera in and about Edinburgh
Dr. Hunter gave
a 20 minute talk, starting with nineteen suggestions for photography,
explained in great detail. One of his suggestions was:
"A good oval vignette
may be taken from the end of Rutland Street near the front of the
Caledonian Station at about eleven o’clock, with a number of people
about, and cabs waiting for the trains."
ended with the reading of a his poem on
continued to be a popular subject for lectures - but not yet natural
history. Only one lecture
in the 1880s dealt with animals:
Experiences in Animal Photography (1882)
this lecture, Charles Reid of Wishaw described his experiences in
photographing elephants during a recent visit of Wombwell’s Menagerie
to the town, and on another occasion photographing
a huge travelling bear performing in the street.
… and Other Titles
1882, William Dougall’s lecture had one of the longest titles ever
delivered to EPS:
Photography as a Handmaid to Medical, Surgical and Other Sciences, and
as a Pleasant Recreation for a Cultivated Mind
years later Hugh Brebner chose a title of similar length:
and Shade, and the action of certain Ferric Salts used in
with Ferric Hyposulphite in reducing Over-Density
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