Monday, July 16, 2012

A Tintype Photo in Gettysburg

Tintype at Victorian Photography Studio, Gettysburg
Ashley in a tintype photograph.
Taken at the Victorian Photography Studio in Gettysburg, July 2012.

While visiting Gettysburg a week and a half ago, we were looking forward to the opportunity to have a wetplate photograph taken in costume.  We had received a few recommendations before arriving and were excited to find that there are several experienced wetplate photographers in town.  During a chat with Frank Orlando at the visitor's information center upon our arrival, he highly recommended the Victorian Photography Studio and happily shared some of the photographs that they've done for him.  Their website has an excellent reservation page that shows available times, so I used that that night to make my appointment for the following day.  Very convenient!

Since Gettysburg is such a busy tourist town, the studio offers some wonderful choices for families who are looking for a memento of their vacation to the 1860s.  They have a closet full of costumes and accessories appropriate for all ages, and even offer a digital photography option, which manipulates the photo to look "antique" like a tintype.  But for those of us who are always interested in preserving the authenticity of the time period, the Victorian Photography Studio offers exactly what we need!

Victorian Photography Studio, Gettysburg
Cory preparing the metal plate for my tintype photograph.
Victorian Photography Studio, Gettysburg

From the moment I walked in, the entire staff were so gracious and accommodating.  I arrived with my own clothes and Tish (co-owner with husband, Del) kindly offered her dressing room for me to change.  My wonderful photographer, Cory, was very helpful in deciding details such as whether or not to wear my glasses and how to sit.  Before I posed, he showed us how he prepares the metal plate with the collodion emulsion to make its surface receptive to light.  The plate must remain wet through the development process or it will not be light sensitive.

I sat very still while Cory did his magic and then we watched as he dipped the plate into cyanide and my photo began to appear!  The plate is then heated to dry and additional coats of oil are added to protect the image.

Victorian Photography Studio, Gettysburg
The negative image on the plate is soaked in chemicals to develop.
Victorian Photography Studio, Gettysburg

We were all very interested to see how my sheer, light yellow gown would appear in the final plate.  I know very little about photography, but apparently, as Cory explained, yellow and other light colors usually appear completely dark when using this process.  Since this photography process only detects certain colors, it is always difficult to say for sure what colors people were wearing in Victorian photographs.  The gown came out light, but the fabric looks so much heavier than the sheer cotton that it is.  Below is a photo that Rebecca took during the process.  Isn't it amazing how different the tintype looks?!  This just goes to show that you can never judge a gown by its tintype!  :-)

Victorian Photography Studio, Gettysburg
Ashley sitting very still for the tintype photograph.
Victorian Photography Studio, Gettysburg

Thank you to the Victorian Photography Studio for your most excellent and impressive service and for so kindly allowing me to share my experience here.  And a huge thank you to Cory for giving me such a fine plate to display!

The pictures included in this post were taken by us during the sitting and were done with the generous permission of the folks at the Victorian Photography Studio.  Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!


The Dreamstress said...

Lovely! How lucky to get to do this, and thank you so much for sharing the whole process. I had no idea that light colours often looked dark in photos. It's amazing to see your dress compared to the image.

Maureen Benfer said...

Wow, both images look great and is very interesting to learn about the process. It is interesting how the tin type photo pics up the shadows in the fabric than the lighter texture and color. Love the differences that can be seen in the comparisons.

vintagevisions27 said...

Great photos! The color difference really is amazing.

lahbluebonnet said...

That's fun! A few years ago I got to help one of those old time photographers at a pre-Civil War event take a period accurate (pre-Civil War)of the Colonial Williamsburg pre-civil War era baseball team after they finished playing their game. I was in the box under the dark cloth helping with chemicals and everything! Good comparison photos! We have them of the baseball team and they are indeed fascinating to compare!

Stephanie Ann said...

I never imagined that was the color you were wearing! Looks beautiful!

Isis said...

How interesting and fun! And the picture is just lovely!