Glass Plates and Family Photographs

Hello World,

Thanks for stopping by. I have a confession. I’m a little obsessed with glass plate negatives. I’ve started scouring flea markets, antique shops, and Ebay in the hopes of finding interesting and visually appealing glass plates. I love an excuse to do a little research and peak into what someone thought was important to document. I suppose it’s like creeping on your friend’s Facebook page peeking into their lives. Although I find images from the past a little more romantic and interesting than cat and baby pictures, but I do like a good food picture…

The one I’m sharing today came all the way from Japan, possibly taken at the end of the 19th century or early 20th. I scanned the image of bamboo and snow on my home printer/scanner and opened in Photoshop to invert the image. After I had the positive of the image I was then able to adjust the contrast. The emulsion side of glass plate negatives are susceptible to damage and debris but it isn’t a good idea to try to remove any of the dust particles because it will result in damage of the emulsion. The magic of technology comes in then and I was able to remove some of the particles from the image. I like imaging the photographer in Japan who dragged his heavy camera, box of glass plates, and portable darkroom in order to take an image of bamboo in the snow. This isn’t a snapshot but a carefully curated image the photographer deliberately created. While photographs can be staged, they still capture a moment in time for the people who were there and looking at their photographs is akin to time travel with a glimpse into the past. The images below follow the steps from negative, positive, and then edited.

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I’m working on more of the pictures from my Nana, I want to make sure that they are stored in a way that within reason can prevent future damage. After I have scanned the images on a high quality scanner I then adjust the images in Photoshop so that I can share them with the rest of my family as well as have a digital copy in case something does happen to the original. I have cut mylar and using acid free archival tape made little capsules for each image. The encapsulation will make it possible to keep air and pollutants out but also provide a little bit of stability for handling. These are visual family memories, they won’t be locked up in a museum but will be handled and shared. My Nana is the only person who can explain these images and it’s important to me for the stories behind them documented and preserved.








This is an image from the farm in Wisconsin that my grandfather was born on. The original image had damage and discoloring, I was able to mask it in Photoshop. The second image is my Nana I believe when she was in high school or possibly college. I love her blouse and hat. Thanks for taking the time to see what I’m doing and read my thoughts. I may have giddily danced upon receipt of new follower notifications from WordPress! I’m a little sporadic with posting but hope to have more things to share in the near future.





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