A few weeks ago a really interesting project landed on my desk. A box of glass plate negatives were anonymously donated to Redhouse in Merthyr Tydfil.
In the past I have been contracted to archive and retouch family photo collections. This experience coupled with my already extensive experience with analogue film processes, made me the perfect candidate for the project. The image on the left was taken on my smart phone and then converted to negative in order to give us a better idea of what images we were dealing with.
The negatives were stored in a curious wooden box and were separated by the pages of a book. they had such a ghostly feel about them due to their age and content. In my own opinion I would date the negatives from between 1890 and 1920 due to the fact that they are dry-plate glass negatives and the kind of clothing worn by the subjects. The subjects of the images ranged from portraits to street scenes, landscapes, graveyards and even a shotgun!
While searching the box I came across this one image which simply looked menacing with the pages of the book underneath.
To start the scanning process I had to ensure that I could create the highest quality images from these negatives. To achieve this I started by deep cleaning the Epson V700 Perfection flatbed scanner and preparing a program
Epson scanner with Mac and Silverfast 8.
Cleaning the flatbed scanner before use.
Removing negatives to check condition.
Cleaning negatives carefully to remove dust particles.
Placing negative on center of glass on at a time.
Prescanning negative to adjust settings before a full scan is done.
The process took roughly 45 minutes per image as they each had to be cleaned, scanned, processed and retouched. The process of retouching the images was left up to my own discretion; the authenticity of the images being a key part of my ideals, I decided to only retouch the faces of the subjects in the images and leave the rest in the original condition. By doing this I believe a good balance has been struck between restoration and the retention of authenticity. I also scanned with the intention of keeping the whole negative intact with no cropping; whoever shot these images really knew what they were doing.
The intention of scanning these negatives is to hopefully create an exhibition from them, possibly at Redhouse in Merthyr Tydfil.
If you feel you have information regarding these images then please contact me as I would love to help create a full account to accompany these mysterious images.