Tag: tintype

Old Albums & Mysteries

After my maternal grandmother passed away last year I was given an old album. No one in my family could identify any of the people in it so if I didn’t take it the whole thing would have been tossed. It is in terrible shape. It’s torn, moldy, and falling apart. Despite all that I’m fascinated by it. It seems to be a special album just for cabinet cards and carte de visite, though there are a few tintypes and other formats scattered throughout.

insideInside, front cover inscribed with my great great grandmother’s name and address

I am still hopeful I can figure out who some of these people are. I started removing the cards and looking  for logos and studio names. When I googled a few only one name showed up. Louis Rice’s name appeared on a website that helps identify old photos for Fayette County, Texas. My family is mostly from Victoria County, Texas and there isn’t a similar website for that (yet?) so I thought I’d put up a blog post and see if anyone had more information.

coupleI’d like to get confirmation on the identity of these two folks.
It would be wonderful to find out that this was
Louis Gaugler & Anna Mueller Gaugler.
All I know is that the original images have
“Corpus Christi” written on the back but these
larger prints were made and colored later.

The rest of the images I’m posting show various cards with a wide range of photographers working in the area. Most are from Victoria but I’ve included any that I found with studio/photographer names, with the exception of an obvious family group stamped with a Connecticut studio. Right now I’m trying to focus on the photographers working in the Victoria, Texas area. Click on the picture groups to see them a bit larger if you’d like.
















My Not So New Fascination

{Scroll to the bottom of the post for links to resources not linked in the text}

I can safely say that I have been fascinated by the tintype (or ferrotype) process since I first saw the famous Billy the Kid image. Not sure why, but learning that the image was a mirror image intrigued me. I later learned that tintype images appeared backwards because they were actually negatives, but the black background on the metal (or glass if it was an ambrotype) caused the negative to appear as a positive. When I had the chance to take an alternative photography class in college I jumped on it. We didn’t do any true wetplate techniques but it was still quite a fun class and I learned a lot.


In school, we used a kit from Rockland Colloid to do tintypes. The emulsion came pre-mixed in a tube and it was applied to the plate and allowed to dry before exposing it. Technically, this was a dry plate technique and most of us used a UV light box in conjunction with digital negatives to make contact prints, but it was possible to fit the plates into cameras and expose that way. Doing this sort of tintype doesn’t seem to create the same effect as a wetplate tintype. The effect is still interesting but it isn’t as “dreamy.” I do have a few ideas on altering lenses, altering negatives, and changing what I use as a plate in order to achieve a similar effect without the dangerous chemicals and the need for a portable darkroom, but I still want to try the original process at least once.


Since graduating many years ago I have wholeheartedly embraced the resurgence of film photography. Digital has its purpose but I find a warmth and intimacy in film that I don’t find with digital. I started dabbling in making cyanotypes again and have been following the sudden trend in exploring even older techniques. I started seeing blog posts for tintype portraits in San Francisco and was lucky enough to visit and have one taken at Photobooth. They were so sweet and let me watch the entire process from start to finish. Unfortunately, the store will be closing March 2014 so anyone in the SF area should book an appointment asap if they are interested.

A few months ago a pop up tintype photobooth appeared in Austin called Lumiere. I plan on checking them out soon and also plan on pestering them for lessons. I’ve found a few workshops scattered across the country, and while I don’t mind traveling, this process is expensive enough. In anticipation of finding a class I purchased an old Brownie box camera. I’ve heard from numerous sources that the Brownie #3 is easy to modify to use with tintypes. Applying a varnish to the inside protects the camera from the wet emulsion and can be wiped down between plates.


In the meantime, I’m finally building my own UV exposure box using this site as inspiration. I’ve already ordered a timer and the bulbs will be here soon. I will say that if you decide to also use this site to build one you will probably have to source the bulbs and ballasts from somewhere other than where he suggested. Those links didn’t work for me so I had to look elsewhere.

As far as other useful links go:

The book that got me moving forward on all this again: Jill Enfield’s Guide to Photographic Alternative Processes: Popular Historical and Contemporary Techniques


Making Digital Negatives and this site, too.

Alternative Photography Processes

A google search of wetplate collodion. Careful, some NSFW images can show up. It is art after all {smile}. I didn’t want to post other people’s images here without permission if they weren’t related to specific links, but you should look at the google link so you can see how magical wetplate images can be.

I’m hoping to post my future experiments and experiences with alternative processes here in the future, so keep checking back.