Preservation & restoration

While this is not directly related to wet-plate photography, we’ve slowly been working on my 1909 Crown Cyrus safety bicycle, also known at the time as a freedom machine, for women. to an extent, both the camera and the bicycle played a major role in the suffrage movement. Camera’s were now being marketed towards women,  along with the ability to move freely about on the bicycle –

with the small compact carry camera, also came what was called the cycle camera, a style of camera designed specifically to be carried and often mounted to a bicycle. haven’t once been an avid cyclist, I thought it would be neat to mount our Gennert Cycle camera on a period style safety bicycle that, I could use to at wheelmen rides and events, or things like tweed rides, along serving as an occasional prop.

you can read a more about our camera, under wood & brass cameras, here on BBHPhoto’s page.

recently, we were able to acquire some pedals for the bicycle, and have been looking for a period style camera mount for the bicycle, as part of that I took the bicycle outside and took a few different photo’s, and hear they are.

The tri-pod is an early 1900’s Kodak #2 tripod, it’s case is on the ground, along with a period camera case, they were often strapped to different parts of the bicycle or simply worn cross body – thus far with the exception of the basket the bicycle is completely decked out using early 1900’s items, the tires will be ordered later this year.





From film to the print

for those who’ve worked in a photographic darkroom, this is nothing new.

It’s important to understand, that when I state the print type, my goal is to distinguish the type of process that I’m using to create the print. In basic terms, unless I state that it is a digital print, all of my photo’s are done using what is considered a historic or an alternative processes, which done by hand, and often in a darkroom –

daylight developing tank

For this example, I’m using a photo from a roll of film, which I hand developed using conventional D76 developer. This is done using what is commonly called a daylight tank, the tank pictured is for 35mm roll film. To use the style of the tank shown. While in complete darkness, I open the film cartridge, then thread the film onto the spool for the tank, once this is done, the spool is placed in the tank. which is then closed allowing one to keep the film in darkness, but develop in the light.

After the film has been developed, fixed, rinsed and dried, it’s cut up into sections, then typically a proof sheet is made using contact printing frame and an enlarger, in the darkroom.

contact proof sheet

Proof sheets are a great tool, allowing the photographer to selectively choose what images to print as well as providing information, used to print the photo.  using the photo of the cannon firing, you’ll note that it’s the only photo on the roll that shows a cannon being fired.  – to capture the photo, it’s a matter of timing, unlike a DSLR, where the modern photographer will often lay on the shutter, capturing 20 different shots in a fraction of a second.

35mm cannon

Taking a closer look at the photo, I felt this image had a lot of neat aspects while providing me with a lot of room to adjust and change the photo, capturing different feelings and emotions. While these modifications can be done digitally, I feel that the digital modification loses the personal touch, a warmth that says that this image was created by hand.

taking the negative, I printed about half a dozen variations, simply to find and create an impression that I felt striking, I also decided to use fiber based non-glossy paper, with some prefecta-d developer, creating hard blacks, with a lot of contrast allowing the image to become ingrained into fibers of the paper, creating depth, I also cropped the photo as I enlarged changing the framing, this again was done in my darkroom. finally, I used a selenium toner to bring some warmth to the image while also helping prevent the silver from darkening.

The step final was choosing a frame, mat, and mounting the image, again I used the frame and mat to help accentuate the picture, while the glass created another layer of depth.


This version of the image wasn’t framed, if you note the border was actually too larger fit nicely under the precut mat, so once again back to the darkroom to print a version without the border.

The final version an  11″ x 14″ print, which is presently displayed at the Churchill county offices is for sale