In the old days when the photographer in order to produce a picture had to prepare his plates and paper, he necessarily had to know something of the chemistry of photography.

To-day all this is changed and the sensitized goods necessary to produce a picture are furnished ready for use. The way has been made easier and the result is that the photographer need not know anything of chemistry to produce results.

We now supply paper, plates, tested chemicals and ready-for-use chemical combinations, thus leaving the photographer free to devote more thought to portraiture and less to chemical complications. This freedom has elevated the artistic standard and to-day photographs instead of being merely a mechanical likeness of the sitter are more or less artistic, according to the ability of the photographer along artistic lines.

Let us say, however, that in the old days the photographer was secure in his knowledge of the action of photographic chemicals and able therefore to correct and overcome any trouble that appeared, while to-day too many photographers care little or nothing about chemical action and are entirely at sea when something goes wrong.

For example, we'll say a certain photographer opens a box of Artura Iris developing paper. He has used it successfully for some time. He prepares his developer, following formula. He exposes a print, places it in the developer and instead of the usual rich vigorous print, he can only produce a weak flat print with grayish fogged whites. Fogged! is the first thought which is rapidly followed by thought No. 2 - paper fogged and defective. "What will I do?" he asks himself. " Here is all this work that must be out by Thursday and I was depending on this paper." "I'll have to send it back."

After this line of thought comes the suspicion that possibly the developer is not right and the perplexed photographer decides to mix up a new developer solution. This he does and carefully inspects each chemical as it is added to be sure that it is the proper one to use.

Another print is put through the new developer and the same flat foggy appearance of this print condemns the paper positively.

Why is this photographer so helpless? Because he doesn't know the first thing about the action of the chemicals in that developer. He does know that he has followed formula - further than that he cannot go. If he had been familiar with the function of every chemical in the developer he would have immediately suspected the absence of sufficient Bromide of Potash and would have thus located his difficulty.

Fortunately for the photographer an Artura demonstrator happened to drop in just at that time and the case was laid before him. One glance at the prints gave him his cue and he asked for the bromide bottle. The bottle was an amber colored one and he had to hold it up to the light to examine its contents. The examination showed a clear solution. No bromide crystals at the bottom of the bottle and the demonstrator immediately knew that a saturated solution of bromide was not being used. He called the photographer's attention to the Artura direction sheet and told him he was not using a saturated solution of bromide.

"Right you are!" exclaimed the photographer, "A demonstrator was in here yesterday and wanted a 10% solution of bromide and I let him mix it up in my bromide bottle and then forgot all about it."

That was the end of the fog. A saturated solution of bromide was prepared - the required number of drops added to the developer and the orders were printed with excellent results.

In another case the photographer's developer turned black shortly after mixing, and this proved to be due to weak sulphate of soda. Sulphate is the preservative and must be pure and of full strength.

Still another example. The developer worked slowly and prints lacked depth and brilliancy. This was due to impure carbonate of soda.

In all of these instances each photographer had to have outside assistance to correct the trouble, while if they had had the proper knowledge of the action of the chemicals they were using they would have been able to help themselves and thus avoid annoyance and delay.

The moral of all this is obvious. Learn all you can about your chemical combinations.

Manuals, text-books and demonstrators will tell you all you need to know, and the time to learn is now, not after you fall down.


The Artura Iris prints reproduced in this issue of Studio Light are furnished by O. L. Harrington, who is proprietor of two well appointed studios - one located in Logansport, Ind., and one in Moline, 111.

In both studios Mr. Harrington caters to high class patronage and a study of the illustrations will prove that these studios merit the support of people who demand portraits of quality.

Chemical Knowledge StudioLightMagazine1910 82


By O. L. Harrington Logansport, Ind.

Moline, 111.