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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Sister Act: 1923

Sister Act: 1923

New York circa 1923. "Brox sisters." These singing siblings made it big in vaudeville and then on Broadway. From the left (or maybe the right): Bobbe, Lorayne and Patricia. George Grantham Bain glass negative. View full size.

 

Putting a cap on it

There are many things that make a photograph. What those things are has changed to be various components as the science of photography progressed. I'm not the worlds expert, but I always thought of the word "film" to represent the emulsion, which is applied to some sort of substrate or base, be it glass, acetate, polyester, nitrocellulose or cellulose.

I will acknowledge that the common usage of the word applies to "that which you load in a camera to take pictures". It's just casual speak. Professional photographers still sometimes catch themselves when using modern digital devices, though they are usually referring to the memory cards these cameras use when they refer to putting "film" in the camera.

But a film is a coating of almost any gaseous or liquid deposit on a sturdier base. Like the paint on your car, the film emulsion, or the coating on your camera lens that improves light transmission by reducing reflections. Orthochromatic, or Ortho coatings sensitive to the spectral range from green to blue were introduced in 1879 and were dominant until the mid-1920s, when they were replaced by Panchromatic, or Pan emulsions, sensitive to red as well as green and blue light.

And that is when skin defects such as pimples started showing up, and the retoucher's job became much more tedious.

["Film" is a flexible transparent sheet of celluose acetate or cellulose nitrate coated with emulsion. The emulsion itself does not constitute "film." - Dave]

"There is no film. Maybe that's what does it!"

I am no expert on photography but what is all the fuss about.... some sort of "grainness backstory"? That seems like a perfectly innocuous comment to me. Cheery, even. But the wingnut reaction to is a classic!! Oatmeal out the nose.

Pretty Girls tag

ShorpyArt - I'm fine with this one.
G.G. Bain - This is a given.
Portraits - We're still good with this tag.

But no "Pretty Girls" tag for this photo?! They certainly get my vote!

Sleepy

Looks like it's a little too early in the morning for the one on the right.

I appreciate

Dave's comments and succinct explanations. I had never thought about glass plates and the lack of grain before. I do hope you were kidding about the light turning green, you shouldn't be posting while in control of a motor vehicle.

Wakee Wakee

I'd like to wake up next to these three or any one thereof.

No Film?

So whats the point? That the plate is not "film", but rather a glass plate negative? I like the photos on this site and I enjoy the comments made by viewers. But every once in a while Dave makes my teeth grind with his short, smart, off-putting comments.

Clearly the viewer was making a general statement and wanted to know more about the way that the "film" revealed tone. Would it have been too much to explain about the glass plate and orthochromatic emulsions? And explain that panchromatic "films" were introduced in 1923?

Whatever.

[Speaking of off-putting -- looks like someone got up on the wrong side of the orthochromatic bed. Anyway, what I said below (no film = no grain = smooth) seems self-explanatory. To me at least. As for "Would it have been too much to explain about the glass plate and orthochromatic emulsions" -- when the light turns green and the guy behind starts honking, yes. - Dave]

Celestial complexions

They look like angels.

I've noted that in these older photographs, people have near-pristine skin, is there something about the film that gives it that "photoshop" smoothness?

[There is no film. Maybe that's what does it! - Dave]

Brox Eye Candy

They were all three beautiful, and, reading their Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brox_Sisters

they all got the longevity gene as well. Wow!

Three Real

Gems.

Well Hello!

I would not mind waking up to that every morning!

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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