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Post WW2 photography

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by DeanE, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. DeanE

    DeanE New Member

    I have acquired some quarter plate glass negatives dating from 1947/9 which I would like to put in to context. These were taken by an amateur photographer. I had thought that photographic materials would have been strictly rationed so would like to know more about its availability for amateur use during and immediately after the war and whether the use of quarter plate glass was still in common use at that time. Any help would be appreciated.
  2. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Copies of the 1937 "Photography" magazine include adverts for press cameras like the VN and transitional cameras like the Primarflex that could use roll film or glass plates but there were 10 adverts for roll film and 35mm cameras to each of these. The articles also talk about plates but again are mostly about techniques and equipment for roll film and 35mm. By 1955 Amateur Photographer adverts and articles were concentrating on roll film and 35mm pretty much exclusively. My guess is that your photographer in the late 1940s might have been coating his own glass plates to use in quite outdated equipment - there are still people doing this today: http://www.alternativephotography.com/wp/processes/gelatin-silver/silver-gelatin-dry-plate-process During the post war years, there was a very strong DIY attitude among hobbyists and the materials were readily available unlike today.
  3. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    Recently I reproduced a page from the "Penguin handbook of photography" dated 1957 and it might be worth showing a second table giving the neg sizes and some popular types of camera that used them. Quarter plate had at least four models available, including single lens reflex cameras.
    I hope this is of some help
  4. velocette

    velocette Well-Known Member

    I remember sometime in the mid 1950's my father acquired a second hand Sanderson 1/4 (I think) plate camera and a Gandolfi wooden tripod which 'we' took to an empty City of London for trial run one Sunday. He used as part of his job to produce shots of buildings and developments for technical articles so the many movements available to the Sanderson were an advantage. I don't remember what became of them as he was a great enthusiast for changing cameras but I still have a bakelite plate developing tank somewhere. I do remember though that the tripod weighted what seemed a ton to a young South London schoolboy.
  5. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Materials were in short supply during WW2 and at times amateur photography of the result of bombing attacks was discouraged on the grounds that it might create despondency.

    After the conflict, War Dept surplus photographic equipment and materials would have been making their way into shops selling such stuff, such as Marston & Heard in London. Cameras from before the war were probably part of the second-hand stock of those shops. I remember seeing some WW2 Vinten cameras in one M&H shop in the mid-1970s.

    I do know that wedding photographers were going out with 5x4 cameras taking three double dark slides with glass negatives, well into the 1950s, so just six shots to cover a whole wedding. Possibly some quarter plate cameras were also in use for weddings.

    Glass plate negatives, if my memory is accurate, were in production until relatively recently. They are, or rather were, essential for one or two applications. My memory now lets me down as I cannot remember what they were. One or both were in the field of scientific photography and, as I type that, I'm wondering if it was astro-photography. We have some experts in astronomy on here, perhaps they will be kind enough to help.
  6. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Well-Known Member

    Thanks Roger an interesting table.
    I'd always thought 'Full plate' was the real full frame but it turns out its significantly smaller than 10x8.:D
  7. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    I used 1/4 glass in a Thornton Pickard ruby reflex during that period 1952 t0 1956. it was not at all difficult to get plates after the war, as only Serious amateurs and professionals used them. During the war it was not actually rationed but was difficult to get. I was able to buy film in 1945 with out much difficulty, and by 1948 it was available in any chemist.
    We were still using Glass plates of all sizes at college in 1956, though some cut film was also available by then. Specialist glass plates were still available from Kodak into the mid 60's that I know about ... but may be also later....
    Import restrictions were still in place for more expensive cameras in 1957 though professions could get a special licence. I got a licence to import a Norwood (walz) super director exposure meter ( now Sekonic) that year
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
  8. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    There were plate converters, inserts or backs for virtually all plate cameras, so as to enable you to uses smaller plates. So one sized camera was often used for multiple formats.

    The largest Glass plates were manufactured in the USA up to 18x22 inches.
    The standard English size to Lantern slides was 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 They were available for both contact printing and by enlargement from negatives. with Iodide or Bromide type emulsions.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
  9. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    That's bigger than my bathroom window!
  10. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    There were two versions of the Gandolfi tripod One that you could wind up, and the other you had to lift to raise. Both were always black.
  11. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Your bathroom window maintains your modesty.
  12. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Well-Known Member

    No the largest ever glass plates were considerably bigger than that 8ft x4ft6" (that's 96"x54") used by the Mammoth Camera of George Lawrence http://robroy.dyndns.info/lawrence/mammoth.html - of course that too was in the USA.Hardy a pocket edition when it takes 15 men to move the camera and the plates weighed 500lbs each! :)

    It's not post WW2 I have to admit, but such an impressive beast should be remembered ragularly.

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