Negatives - glass plates and others

Discussion in 'Photo Restoration' started by Heimbrent, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    I recently found a collection of old photographs (approx. 1900-1920), both prints and negatives on glass and foil.

    As far as the glass plates are concerned, I only had a quick look at some of them and left the rest alone since I don't really know what to do with them.

    I tried to scan the negatives on foil but the scanner seems too weak to get through the black.
    I was wondering if it might be easier to make prints the traditional way, or have someone with a more potent scanner do it?

    Does any of you have any experience with prints of negatives (paper or digital)?

    (Two samples attached)[​IMG]
  2. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    What sort of scanner are you using? If you have a transparency adapter you shouldn't have any probs.

    PS there is a step by step how to on flickr click here
    Heimbrent likes this.
  3. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot!
    I have an HP Deskjet F300; I'll definitely try with additional light and see how that works.
  4. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    that scanner is not for scanning slides, negatives etc. the how to on flickr should get you some decent results, but it might be worth asking friends etc if they have a dedicated transparency scanner you could borrow. I use a Epson 4870 for scanning slides, had it a few years and it's brilliant.
  5. snailer

    snailer Country Member

    If you haven't found a solution yet...
    I use a lightbox but a quick and easy way is to use your PC or laptop screen.
    Open a blank page on your computer, anything so long as there is a blank white screen. Place the neg on the white screen area with the emulsion (dullest) side facing down, glass negs aren't a problem but some of the nitrate negs can be very curly so you may want to tape the corners to keep it flat. Take your camera, SLRs would be best but any digital camera will do, even a phone and make sure you turn off the flash, you don't want any reflections, and set to the highest resolution. Take a photo getting as close as you can but making sure it is still in focus, sometimes it is easier on an SLR to switch to manual focus to avoid the constant to-ing and fro-ing as the auto-focus gets confused, it doesn't matter if you can't get really close as the high res will make drastic cropping more acceptable.
    Upload the photo to your computer and open it in whatever photo editing software you use, there is usually something pre-installed that will do the job if you haven't got photoshop or similar.
    Now you need to invert the image, making a negative of the negative creates a positive, in photoshop click Image >Adjustments >Invert then you can mess about with contrast, cropping etc to get the best result for you.

    IMG_1132.JPG IMG_1133.JPG IMG_1133_inverted.jpg IMG_1133b.JPG


    jmcq, von Poop, Heimbrent and 2 others like this.
  6. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    Pete, thanks for digging this up!
    I got fed up pretty quickly because scanning/editing was so time-consuming and somewhat unrewarding. I think I will give it another go however, using the method you suggested; your results look really good.

  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    What size plates are they, K?
    Even quarter plate glass negs produce the most fantastically detailed prints, and are a doddle to contact print using the old chemical ways, but if they're half-plate or upwards, you'd be blown away by the quality.
    Some paper, a few chemicals, a dark room and a lamp; really straightforward & quite good fun.
    Large-format non-glass negs contact print just as well too, with a piece of glass laid over to flatten 'em to the paper.

    Not that I'd blame anyone for using electronic ways, I probably would these days, but silver halide has a sharpness & magic to it that consumer level scanners or copying still can't equal.
    There's also the fact that glass negs are very fragile and prone to scratching - get one 'proper' print, and you then have a super-sharp copy you can scan or manipulate to your heart's content without endangering the original (and a half-plate upwards print will give you an original of such detail that zooming/enlarging parts of it can be done to a surprising degree without losing definition).

    (And I assume they're well-stored to have been found intact in the first place,.. but just in case: )
  8. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    Adam, according to my memory (ha!) the glass ones are about 8x14 cm.

    They weren't and aren't well stored, no. They must have spent decades in a dusty attic, which is exactly what they look like. They're in the orginial boxes, one palte on top of the other.

    Developing them does sound like fun - but I doubt I can convince my dad to help me set up the darkroom again (he used to develop his photographs himself, but that was ages ago).
    Besides, I'm not sure whether it is even worth it. Most of them are pictures of mountains (Switzerland and France, mostly) which really isn't my area of interest. Oh and a set of Pompeij, which isn't very tempting either.
  9. rickles23

    rickles23 Member


    Very quickly done examples.


    Attached Files:

  10. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    Looks good, what exactly did you do?
  11. rickles23

    rickles23 Member

    Hi Heimbrent,

    Apologies for the delay but illness once again reared its ugly head.

    It helps that I was an all round photographer both in film and darkroom.

    All I did was to copy them into:

    Photoshop CS3

    Image- Auto Levels


    Save and Post.


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