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History, Conservation, and Repair The history of photographic prints, and how best to care for and repair them.

Old imaging technique

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Old 02-24-2004, 07:37 AM
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ExclamPt ExclamPt is offline
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Old imaging technique

I have come across a number of old images which share a process with which I'm not familiar.

The image looks like a standard photo that's been drawn over with pigment--not paint per se, but something like charcoal (the pigment does not rub off, however). The image is basically black and white or at least fairly neutral in color.

Often, the images are about 11x14, done on thick stock. Sometimes, they are framed under oval, convex glass. The pigmented layer may flake off with age.

Does anyone know about this technique and when it was popular?

I've attached a rather poor snapshot of one if that helps.
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Old 02-24-2004, 08:07 AM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Perhaps it's bromoil

or carbon printing (carbro)
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Old 04-05-2004, 03:01 PM
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CourtneyConk.Co CourtneyConk.Co is offline
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Pre-Photoshop retouchers put dye or graphite on the negative and/or used stabilo or prismacolor pencils to add color/detail to the photograph. A matte spray was normally used to keep the pencil work adhered to the photograph. I am not sure if there is an exact name for the techinique but I see allot of it in varying degrees of detail. Hell, I used to do it up until a few years ago. I am usually amazed at how well these photographs hold up.

I hope this helps, sorry I couldnt be more specific.

Edited- This might be overkill if you already know this but here is the traditional retouching methods and supplies as per Kodak.

Last edited by CourtneyConk.Co; 04-05-2004 at 03:08 PM.
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Old 04-05-2004, 09:00 PM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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I know what you're talking about, and have seen these. Quite strange actually. I recently retouched one of those. Most of the image had faded, except for the "line drawing". I don't know what it is either. We have a member here, Jim Conway, that may know the answer to this.
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Old 04-11-2004, 10:31 AM
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ExclamPt ExclamPt is offline
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Yes, Vikki, they do seem strange. Not quite a photo, but not quite a drawing either.

Thanks for everyone's input.
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Old 10-23-2004, 03:08 PM
luke1298 luke1298 is offline
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This thread is quite old but I thought I would still give my opinion. I believe these prints are known as "crayon prints" and were indeed over painted with some sort of charcol looking substance, however the medium is quite embedded in the paper.

These were popular before enlargements became practical, so a faint, soft image was enlarged and then details were drawn/painted by the photographer.

I see quite a few of them in Australia.


Luke Ingram
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Old 10-23-2004, 06:16 PM
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Janet Petty Janet Petty is offline
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Charcoal type medium.

Someone on an earlier post wondered how old this technique is. While literally digging through an old grainary last summer, we discovered a portrait of my 2nd great grandmother in an old oval frame. Because of the "preservation" this picture was in nearly perfect shape. We know this picture was taken somewhere between 1860-70. Plus we have a LOT of other pictures with the same or nearly the same technique taken between 1875 and 1900.

I hope this helps. Maybe someone with accurate knowledge will step in and offer a better answer.
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