Smith became interested in photography and what the photo could tell you after
first seeing the book by Charles Elliott, Fox Hill, It's People and it's Places.
He also was introduced to Civil War images in the Hampton Library, which
heightened his interest in old pictures, and how they were made.
to 1860, most images were done in a process called Degarotype (or silver paint).
This was a silver plated image, in terracotta cases, mounted in tin. This
type was a very expensive at the time, and only wealthy people usually had this
type. Few images of this type are found. The process was dangerous for the processor who put
themselves at risk of poisoning.
was a process which used varnish coating. The
image will be lost if the varnish flakes off.
When handling this kind of image, gloves should be worn.
If you are trying to make a copy of this image, you should be aware that
one shot on a scanner equals thirty years of life on the photo; take a picture
of the image to obtain a negative to make copies of the desired image. This will insure a longer life of the image itself.
You can then scan your copy on a computer and can made any needed repairs
or flaws on the image to clarify the image; i.e. spots, cracks, missing areas of
or tintype was a less expensive way to duplicate images; this process became
very prevalent from the Civil War period up to about 1890.
This process was more affordable for the common man.
a process that appears to have no image on it until black background is placed
can give a lot of information to the researcher; i.e. Soldier photo, militaria
photo, can tell what unit, state, country, rank, and war.
the images pre-Civil War and after, you will notice that there are few moving
subjects in images, this is due to the process of obtaining the photo.
The photographer used a clamp on a stand to hold you still, therefore,
images with animals that are earliest images are not usually seen, photo would
be distorted or not develop.
the Divil War, Carda-de-vistas were common; several antebellum images can be
found on this process. Six images
with one shot could be processes. Very
popular with Officers, both Union and Confederate. The casemate has examples of this process on display.
they were hard board images/early cardboard, in sepia tone color,
at this time, some color images were being seen. On Amber and Ferrotypes, color could be added by a
"Colorist". Gilded on the
image, the colorist used charcoals to color your image, which could be quite an
attractive enhancement, if the colorist was talented, disastrous if they were
less than talented.
photographers in the year's 1905-1920's made visits to churches to take
pictures, schools, fire houses, and fraternal orders. These are very common images still available to researchers.
Even though they are common, all images should be treated with care to
preserve the image for future generation's enjoyment.