This section is from the "Studio Light And The Aristo Eagle - A Magazine Of Information For The Profession 1909" book, by Aristo Motto. Also see Amazon: Studio Light And The Aristo Eagle - A Magazine Of Information For The Profession 1909.
In making arguments for the product which they sell, representatives of certain photographic paper concerns frequently state that results on their paper depend upon a special character of negative used to print from. They give as their opinion that the quality of negatives should always he varied to meet the particular paper used. Followed to its logical conclusion this means no standard in negative making and that negatives are to be considered good or bad merely in their relation to this or that printing paper. A good negative for one paper must be condemned and discarded when prints are wanted on some other paper.
In landscape work this variation in printing quality of negative is difficult to avoid, as no one paper emulsion can have the latitude to produce best possible results from negatives of widely varying density and quality such as are frequently made. But this complication and uncertainty are undesirable and unnecessary for the portrait photographer.
To support their argument these representatives mention the Albumen paper which, when in vogue, they state required a negative of a particular quality, which quality became obsolete when other papers were adopted, and they argue that the quality of negatives Mould always vary from time to time as photographers shift from one paper to another. Historically this statement is incorrect. In the Albumen days there was a certain negative quality which was accepted as perfect and by the majority of experienced and skilled photographers at the present day the writer believes that the chemical quality of negatives of the Albumen days should still be considered as ideal.
When prepared papers were first introduced the emulsions were of a quality especially adapted to producing the best results on negatives which were then generally made. The first prepared papers that came out were for the most part coated with gelatine emulsions. After these came the American Aristo Blue Label, which Mas a pure Collodion paper of such brilliant printing quality that a particularly soft negative was required. It was at this time that a special negative to suit the paper was first advocated by the manufacturers. The manufacturers of this paper were, however, quick to perceive the disadvantages of recommending a new sort of negative. It was largely because the Aristo Blue Label was not adapted to the negatives generally made that it did not take the place which, on account of its permanency and capacity for beautiful tones, was expected for it. To-day it is not known.
Following this in logical order came the Aristo Jr. and the Aristo Platino. These papers proved popular because they suited the 'Albumen" negatives, and where you find a photographer who is using Aristo Platino to-day and getting the best results, you will also find he is making negatives which will produce excellent results on the old Albumen paper. This proves that from the inception of negative making the recognized and accepted characteristics of a perfect negative have not materially changed. Styles may change, but real worth is the same in all ages. Character in pictures is much like human character. The gentleman of fifty years ago would still qualify as the gentleman of to-day. Basic principles cannot be changed to meet momentary conditions.
Let us go back to first principles. The writer contends that photographic printing paper should be made for the negative rather than the negative made for the paper. Some manufacturers in the Collodion P. O. P., as well as in the gelatine D. O. P., field recognize this and work for it, others do not. Let any of us who have not already done so, start in anew and build on the foundation of technical excellence in negative making. Let us have that roundness, brilliancy and gradation in negatives which will yield prints pleasing to the eye and which our best friend, the public, most admires. Whatever superstructure of art and style, of ideality, romance and poetry which we may weave into and about our pictures, let us not forget that we must lead and educate our customers and we must always make some concession to their understanding of "things as they are," as well as of our conception of "things as they ought to be." To harmonize these elements is the higher art and it is also the "bread and butter" end of the business which we should not forget.
From A Collodio-Carbon Print By The Rose Studio Providence, R. I.