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Ambrotype and gender stuff

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Old 01-06-2002, 01:16 PM
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Ambrotype and gender stuff

This is another post that really doesn't fit into another category, and since it does pertain to learning, I'm posting it here.

Another thread prompted this one. Since an ambrotype can be laterally correct or laterally reversed, I assume that happens because of the direction of the glass plate when put into the camera. In other words, with the collodion side closer to the lens, a laterally reversed image would be seen (just like a modern day negative). If it were reversed, a laterally correct image would be seen. Am I right about the direction of insertion into the camera being the reason for both types to be found?

This brings up a question of gender. Since the mid 19th century (I think) until after the beginning of the 20th century, the hair of a boy would have been parted slightly towards the right side, thereby making gender identifiable (if I remember the other post correctly on this). But since ambrotypes could be laterally correct or incorrect can gender assumption be made with reasonable accuracy? Was a girl's hair always parted right down the middle? If so, then it seems we could judge the gender by a part towards either side, as being a boy. Comments?

Ed
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Old 01-06-2002, 01:33 PM
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I suppose if that being the case then gender guessing would be almost impossible for those type photos. Good thought provoking topic Ed.
DJ
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Old 01-06-2002, 02:40 PM
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In examining old photos of kids in the 2-6 or so year range, there are examples of side parts on both the Lt. and Rt.. It was considered feminine, and therefore slightly unacceptable for males to part their hair in the middle until late in the 19th century. It is reported that U.S. Grant was heard to remark that he immediatly disliked and distrusted any man who parted his hair in the middle, thus, the importiant thing to look for is if the part is on the side..rather than what side it is on. Re; Orientation of plate..I believe it is the orientation of the developed plate and backing rather than the way the plate was inserted in the camera. The examples in which there is lateral "flipping" may have resulted from the use of colored glass as the support, the opacity of the glass determining the viewing position as laterally reversed or perhaps mounting error..just speculating though. Tom
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Old 01-06-2002, 03:03 PM
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That solves the hair part. Another thought I just had is that ambrotypes are sometimes found as two pieces of glass stuck together with the collolion being found between the two. This way the collodion would not be left uncovered to possible damage caused by anything touching the collodion, and could be flipped to read correctly. Could it be that any image that appears correctly would be an ambrotype with a second piece of glass?

Ed
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Old 01-06-2002, 04:15 PM
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Might be interesting to try some non-destructive type experiments along those lines with the glass plate negatives you have....As I understand , the cementing of a piece of glass over the collodian bearing area was intended to protect it from abrasion, etc., however, due to the crystaline structure of the balsam resin used, deterioration in the form of dendratic patterns became a problem...it looks like mold growing but is actually caused by the resin deteriorating, and I would assume that being in contact with the image bearing binder there isnt a whole lot which can be done to undo the damage. Tom
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Old 01-06-2002, 07:02 PM
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I have some 8X10 glass negatives, and some of them have no real value except possibly to the families who cannot be found. What kind of experiments are you talking about?

Ed
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Old 01-06-2002, 08:52 PM
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As the Ambrotypes are a negative which appear positive with dark backing, would it work to place a neg. on a piece of black velvet or some suitable soft,dark material and see what if any difference there is to the image on the plate...sort of a temporary "Ambro" sort of thing..I dont know if that would work, but it might be interesting to try. Just curious I guess...Tom
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Old 01-06-2002, 09:31 PM
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I tried it Tom, unsuccessfully. The negative seemed to lose the definition in the lightest parts of the plate (became darker), while the more dense areas remained the same. These are fully exposed glass plate negs. I have seen a positive image on an underexposed B&W neg from film taken about 60 years ago. Although I can't remember the circumstances exactly, I think it showed as a positive when something relatively dark was in the background, but *definitely* not touching the neg. If I remember correctly, it was kind of like a dag, where it could be seen as a negative or positive depending on the angle of the light. I'll have to dig that neg out again to be sure of the circumstances.

Ed
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Old 01-06-2002, 09:43 PM
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I about half way expected that result...Somewhere I think I've got some old B/W nitrate base negatives, which were underexposed and might be fun to play with...I'll dig around and see what crawls out of the storage area..let you know if I have anything of value to report... Tom
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Old 01-07-2002, 09:09 AM
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I dug out one of my old negs to see what it did. Keep in mind this was a very lightly exposed neg. While looking at the neg with window light over a rather light neutral carpet, the image appeared as a positive when viewing the emulsion side. When flipped over, it appeared as a negative. Looking out the window with snow as the background, the negative appeared as such when viewing either side. Viewing the same negative over a dark blue background resulted in the same experience as when viewing over the carpet. It was also viewed with the neg *in contact* with a piece of black cardboard. This also resulted in either a positive or negative image depending on which side of the neg you are viewing. So it seems as though if the background is dark or reasonably light, the image can be viewed as a positive. With a very bright background (snow) it is always viewed as a negative.

It should also be noted that the angle of the light made no difference in viewing.

Ed

Last edited by Ed_L; 01-07-2002 at 10:29 AM.
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