Great news. I have just completed the process of photographing the Stevens glass plate collection. These plates were found in the basement of Maxine Steven’s house by her son J.K. He recently loaned them to me so that I could “digitize ’em”.
The photographer may have been Maxine Steven’s grandfather Wiley who lived near West 71st and Zionsville Road (now Park 100).
Please forward this link (to the glass plate negative slide show) to anyone who might enjoy seeing these pictures. Lots of school class photos, some New Augusta buildings, and a great photo of the NEW Bethel Methodist Church on 52nd. Since it was built in 1905 that is my general guess for when these pictures were taken.
There are few “named” photos but there is a Geo. Hollingsworth barn depicted, as well as a Kissel family barn. But I don’t know where these barns were located. Lots of Pike School #9 photos (high school). It would be really neat if we could identify some of these folks. Please have people contact me at this email address if they can help. I will be bringing a small collection of prints to the October 30 event.
This has been great fun and I am indebted to J.K. for providing me with so much entertainment. And not a single plate broke!
In case anyone asks, the process for getting from the negative to these images did not involve traditional photo developing baths or solutions. It was entirely dry! I used a white screen on my computer (like a light box) and carefully laid the negative onto the computer screen in a “dark” room (just a windowless closet). This provided backlighting that was sufficient to illuminate the plate. I mounted my digital camera on a tripod and photographed the 4″ x 6″ plates first, then I readjusted the tripod and photographed the 5″ x 7″ images. Then I removed the memory card from the camera, inserted it into my computer and reversed all of the images (to make them positive) using photo editing software. This really didn’t take more than a few hours. A lot faster than manually printing each one in a real wet darkroom with the three baths of developer, toner and fixer. Once the images were filed on my computer it took five minutes to upload them to the internet. They are in two separate slide shows. There are some duplicates and that is unintentional. The original photographer probably took about five minutes between each photo (because of the time required to remove the glass plate from the camera, carefully store it, unwrap the next negative plate and insert into the camera etc.)
One interesting observation about plate glass photography, it was on its way out in 1905. George Eastman had invented roll film in 1885 that could be taken to a photo lab (like an apothecary) and developed professionally. An amateur photographer taking pictures with plate glass in 1905 was a serious and devoted hobbyist or a professional. It was not a casual device or a toy that anyone can operate (like the one I used to take the pictures of the negatives!)