Work is continuing to digitise early photographs held in Special Collections. Recently, we added digital images and detailed descriptions to our online information about two photograph albums, Dougan 103 and Dougan 104. Dating from the 1870s, they contain over 70 images of south-eastern Australia, taken at a time of rapid economic and population growth. They document the rising cities of Sydney and Melbourne, the surrounding landscape and the expansion of railways between them.
As well as their social and economic history interest, these photographs are impressive due to the technical difficulties involved in producing them. They are all albumen prints (a popular photographic process in use from the 1850s to the 1890s) and appear to have been contact printed from wet collodion glass plate negatives. The plate had to be prepared immediately before use, exposed while still moist and developed directly afterwards. Away from the studio, photographers had to make do with a portable darkroom or even, in wilder places, a ‘dark-tent’. As noted in a previous blog post, this was no mean feat given the large size of the glass plates.
Roddy has recently completed work on an album of photos from Italy and is now working through photos of Egypt. More details will follow.
Related blog post:
Early photograph of the ‘Wild West’ discovered in Special Collections
Categories: Special Collections