Death of Fox Talbot

Quinn Jacobson, The Death of Fox Talbot

Here is a curious thing, a photographic joke for insiders. Quinn Jacobson, the Wet Plate exponent (see my Arcana post of November 10 below) was  at Kensal Green cemetery in London for a commemoration of Frederick Scott Archer. Archer was the 19th century photographer who invented the Wet Plate process in 1851, a method of photography so successful that it soon killed the Calotype process patented by Fox Talbot in the 1840s.

The curious thing is that not far from the Scott Archer memorial, Jacobson found a dead fox on the ground, a bizarre omen for Fox Talbot. He photographed it using his Wet Plate camera and titled the image The Death of Fox Talbot. As I say, a photographic joke for insiders.

Arcana

Quinn Jacobson, Oma, 2008

The previous post, Behemoth, made me wonder what other antique processes are still in play in the world of photography. Despite the tidal wave of digital technologies in the past ten years, analogue processes are still popular and there has even been a revival of 19th century techniques. Salt printing (Talbot’s 1841 process), Cyanotype (also 1840s), Gum Bichromate and many others are available in commercial kits. The most arcane techniques from the 1800s have their enthusiastic supporters.The alarming photograph above is by Quinn Jacobson and was made using the most difficult of all techniques, the Wet Plate process of the 1860s. Below is some info about the availability of this and some other early photographic processes. Click on the pink words for links.

WET PLATE – Bostick & Sullivan make a range of products for Wet Plate (Collodion) photography, including ones that include a 90 year old camera as part of the package! Quinn Jacobson conducts workshops in Wet Plate photography, and is enthusiastically involved in promoting its use and history. His website is at studioq.com.

ALBUMEN  PAPER – Depending on which website or chatline you believe, Kentmere is or is not making Albumen Printing Out Paper, once a year, to order, most of it going to the Chicago Albumen Works (which is not in Chicago). Printing Out Paper was used for wedding proofs amongst other things and is not developed in chemicals, but through sunlight. It fades unless fixed or toned. The paper discussed on the chatlines is an albumen paper, which is why everyone wants it, as it gives such warm, chocolaty tones (even though you don’t eat it). I’m pessimistic wether it will continue but I can hope.

PLATINUM/PALLADIUM – Bostick & Sullivan make a range of kits for this expensive process. They also sell Bergger papers which have been recommended for its use. To see a very good portfolio of platinum/palladium prints, go to the website of Beth Dow.

AZO PAPER – Lodima has announced a new a silver chloride paper, a replacement for Kodak Azo paper, the much loved contact-printing paper.  The company (which is Amidol spelt backwards!) is a project of Michael A. Smith, the well-known U.S. landscape & fine print photographer. My favourite Azo/silver chloride prints are in Weighing the Planets by Olivia Parker.

DARKROOM PAPERS – The French company Bergger makes a range of traditional silver-rich printing papers. One of them, Bergger Prestige Fine Art Portrait is described thus: an extra-premium, semi-matte photographic paper with a high silver content emulsion coated on a sumptuous Arches 100% cotton – rag paper base of 320g/m2. It’s a warm tone variable contrast emulsion which is particularly high in silver content and gives extremely deep blacks and wide range of mid-tones. It has excellent toning capability and due to the quality of its paper base and surface softness, it allows un-matched possibilities of hand-coloring.

Make your mouth water?