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Tintype

Tintype

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Encyclopedia
Tintype, also melainotype and ferrotype, is a photograph
Photograph
A photograph is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene's visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of...

 made by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 metal that is blackened by painting, lacquering or enamelling and is used as a support for a collodion
Collodion
Collodion is a flammable, syrupy solution of pyroxylin in ether and alcohol. There are two basic types; flexible and non-flexible. The flexible type is often used as a surgical dressing or to hold dressings in place. When painted on the skin, collodion dries to form a flexible cellulose film...

 photographic emulsion
Photographic emulsion
Photographic emulsion is a light-sensitive colloid, such as gelatin, coated onto a substrate. In silver-gelatin photography, the emulsion consists of silver halide crystals suspended in gelatin, and the substrate may be glass, plastic film, paper or fabric....

.

Photographers usually worked outside at fair
Fair
A fair or fayre is a gathering of people to display or trade produce or other goods, to parade or display animals and often to enjoy associated carnival or funfair entertainment. It is normally of the essence of a fair that it is temporary; some last only an afternoon while others may ten weeks. ...

s, carnival
Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

s etc. and as the support of the tintype (there is no actual tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 used) is resilient and does not need drying, photographs can be produced only a few minutes after the picture is taken.

An ambrotype
Ambrotype
right|thumb|Many ambrotypes were made by unknown photographers, such as this American example of a small girl holding a flower, circa 1860. Because of their fragility ambrotypes were held in folding cases much like those used for [[daguerreotype]]s...

 uses the same process and methods on a sheet of glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

 that is mounted in a case with a black backing so the underexposed negative image
Negative (photography)
In photography, a negative may refer to three different things, although they are all related.-A negative:Film for 35 mm cameras comes in long narrow strips of chemical-coated plastic or cellulose acetate. As each image is captured by the camera onto the film strip, the film strip advances so that...

 appears as a positive. Tintypes did not need mounting in a case and were not as delicate as photographs that used glass for the support.

Technical details


The process is very similar to wet plate photography, where silver halide crystals (silver bromide
Silver bromide
Silver bromide , a soft, pale-yellow, water insoluble salt well known for its unusual sensitivity to light. This property has allowed silver halides to become the basis of modern photographic materials. AgBr is widely used in photographic films and is believed by some to have been used for making...

, silver chloride
Silver chloride
Silver chloride is a chemical compound with the chemical formula AgCl. This white crystalline solid is well known for its low solubility in water . Upon illumination or heating, silver chloride converts to silver , which is signalled by greyish or purplish coloration to some samples...

 and silver iodide
Silver iodide
Silver iodide is a yellow, inorganic, photosensitive iodide of silver used in photography, in medicine as an antiseptic, and in rainmaking for cloud seeding.-Crystal structure:...

) are suspended in a colloidion emulsion that is chemically reduced to crystals of metallic silver that vary in density in accordance with variations in the intensity and duration of light impinging on the emulsion.

In a tintype, a very underexposed
Exposure (photography)
In photography, exposure is the total amount of light allowed to fall on the photographic medium during the process of taking a photograph. Exposure is measured in lux seconds, and can be computed from exposure value and scene luminance over a specified area.In photographic jargon, an exposure...

 negative image is produced on a thin iron plate, lacquered or otherwise darkened, and coated with a collodion photographic emulsion. Since in a negative image the darker portions of the subject appear lighter, or in this case more transparent, the dark background gives the resulting image the appearance of a positive. The ability to employ underexposed images allows effective film speed
Film speed
Film speed is the measure of a photographic film's sensitivity to light, determined by sensitometry and measured on various numerical scales, the most recent being the ISO system....

 to be increased, permitting shorter exposure time, a great advantage in portraiture
Portrait photography
Portrait photography or portraiture is the capture by means of photography of the likeness of a person or a small group of people , in which the face and expression is predominant. The objective is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the subject...

.

One unique piece of equipment was a twelve-lens camera that could take a dozen 3/4" x 1" "gem-sized" portraits in one exposure. Portrait sizes ranged from gem-sized to 11" x 14". From about 1865 to 1910 the most popular size, called "Bon-ton", ranged from 2-3/8" x 3-1/2" to 4" x 5-3/4"..

History


The process was first described by Adolphe-Alexandre Martin in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1853, patented in 1856 both in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by Hamilton Smith
Hamilton Lanphere Smith
Hamilton Lanphere Smith was an American scientist, photographer, and astronomer.He was born in New London, Connecticut and graduated from Yale in 1839 , where he constructed the largest telescope in the country at the time in 1838....

 and William Kloen in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. It was first called melainotype, then ferrotype by a rival manufacturer of the iron plates used; finally tintype.

Ambrotype


The ambrotype
Ambrotype
right|thumb|Many ambrotypes were made by unknown photographers, such as this American example of a small girl holding a flower, circa 1860. Because of their fragility ambrotypes were held in folding cases much like those used for [[daguerreotype]]s...

 was the first wet-plate collodion process
Collodion process
The collodion process is an early photographic process. It was introduced in the 1850s and by the end of that decade it had almost entirely replaced the first practical photographic process, the daguerreotype. During the 1880s the collodion process, in turn, was largely replaced by gelatin dry...

, invented by Frederick Scott Archer
Frederick Scott Archer
Frederick Scott Archer invented the photographic collodion process which preceded the modern gelatin emulsion. He was born in Bishop's Stortford in the UK and is remembered mainly for this single achievement which greatly increased the accessibility of photography for the general public.tyler was...

 in 1851 and introduced in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by James Ambrose Cutting
James Ambrose Cutting
James Ambrose Cutting was an American photographer and inventor, sometimes called the inventor of the Ambrotype photographic process.He grew up in poverty on a farm in Haverhill, NH...

 in 1854.

Success of the tintype


While the ambrotype
Ambrotype
right|thumb|Many ambrotypes were made by unknown photographers, such as this American example of a small girl holding a flower, circa 1860. Because of their fragility ambrotypes were held in folding cases much like those used for [[daguerreotype]]s...

 remained very popular in the rest of the world, the tintype process had superseded the ambrotype
Ambrotype
right|thumb|Many ambrotypes were made by unknown photographers, such as this American example of a small girl holding a flower, circa 1860. Because of their fragility ambrotypes were held in folding cases much like those used for [[daguerreotype]]s...

 in the United States by the end of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. It became the most common photographic process until the introduction of modern, gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

-based processes and the invention of the reloadable amateur camera by the Kodak
Eastman Kodak
Eastman Kodak Company is a multinational imaging and photographic equipment, materials and services company headquarted in Rochester, New York, United States. It was founded by George Eastman in 1892....

 company. Ferrotypes had waned in popularity by the end of the 19th century, although a few makers were still around as late as the 1950s and the images are still made as novelties at some Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an carnivals.

Advantages of the tintype


The tintype was a minor improvement to the ambrotype
Ambrotype
right|thumb|Many ambrotypes were made by unknown photographers, such as this American example of a small girl holding a flower, circa 1860. Because of their fragility ambrotypes were held in folding cases much like those used for [[daguerreotype]]s...

, replacing the glass plate of the original process with a thin piece of black-enameled, or japanned, iron (hence ferro). The new materials reduced costs considerably; and the image, in gelatin-silver emulsion on the varnished surface, has proven to be very durable. Like that of the ambrotype, the tintype's image is technically negative; but, because of the black background, it appears as a positive. Since the tintype 'film' was the same as the final print, most tintype images appear reversed (left to right) from reality. Some cameras were fitted with mirrors or a 45-degree prism to reverse (and thus correct) the image, while some photographers would photograph the reversed tintype to produce a properly oriented image.

Tintypes are simple and fast to prepare, compared to other early photographic techniques. A photographer could prepare, expose, develop, and varnish a tintype plate in a few minutes, quickly having it ready for a customer. Earlier tintypes were often cased, as were daguerreotype
Daguerreotype
The daguerreotype was the first commercially successful photographic process. The image is a direct positive made in the camera on a silvered copper plate....

s and ambrotypes; but uncased images in paper black sleeves and for albums were popular from the beginning.

Ferrotyping


Ferrotyping is a finishing treatment applied to glossy photographic paper
Photographic paper
Photographic paper is paper coated with light-sensitive chemicals, used for making photographic prints.Photographic paper is exposed to light in a controlled manner, either by placing a negative in contact with the paper directly to produce a contact print, by using an enlarger in order to create a...

 to bring out its reflective properties. Newly developed, still-wet photographic prints and enlargements that have been made on glossy paper are squeegee
Squeegee
A squeegee, squilgee or sometimes squimjim, is an onomatopoeically named tool with a flat, smooth rubber blade, used to remove or control the flow of liquid on a flat surface...

d onto a polished metal plate called a ferrotyping plate. When these are later peeled off the plate, they retain a highly reflective gloss.

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