We approach this topic with some feeling of hesitancy lest we be misunderstood, because, not so many years ago, photography, in the popular mind, was supposed to be in some way related to the black arts of the mediaeval ages around which many superstitions were centered. But this is not a ghost story. Photography, although youngest in the sisterhood of Arts, is yet venerable enough to have its traditions, some of which are founded on facts, others on fancy, and the present generation is perhaps influenced more than is realized by practices and imaginations of the past.

Photography in its early days was regarded somewhat as a mystic rite whose secrets were revealed only to the initiated and its operations carried on in dark and mysterious chambers. It is now simplified with practical every day uses, many and varied. Still we have a heritage from the rudimentary and crude ideas of the past which lingers like a shadow to perplex the understanding of many earnest workers even at the present time.

There are many ways in which these old superstitions still persist, and there are many misconceptions in the minds of even some of the most practical workers.

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Eastman Professional School Negative

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For instance, there is a superstition about fog. It's a creepy sort of a thing anyway - this fog. But why look for ulterior and remote causes when most probably the dark-room light and that alone is at fault. The old dark-room lantern which has done valiant service through many campaigns, or Christmas rushes, breaks down at last and its faded tissues become weary in the unending task of standing guard against actinic rays. By imperceptible degrees it has become less and less efficient until at last you can deceive yourself no longer - your negatives are hopelessly veiled. You may be loth to lay blame to an old and trusted friend of the family as it were, but it is useless to blame the plates, and no advantage to change to other and less orthochromatic brands. When the gates are once down a deluge of fog will come to ruin the most beautiful effects and the only real remedy is in discarding that which has worn out in the service. Establish new and safer conditions - the ghosts will no longer haunt you. This is a simple suggestion but surprisingly many might profit thereby.

There is another little superstition about the necessity of excluding all light between the negative and the lens when making lantern slides or glass positives by projected light. A lens will not pick up rays falling at oblique angles, and if there are no surface reflections and the illumination through the negative is good, there will be no trouble in obtaining clear transparent positives, even when photographing across an open space. Thus is another little fallacy nailed and photography made that much easier.

The clouds of superstition roll deep when the phenomenon known as "Reversal" occurs and a negative partakes of some of the values of a positive. Here intricate theories and fine spun deductions hold sway. Perhaps, as some theorists claim, a vastly prolonged exposure may produce a true reversal of values and negatives and positives may occur alternately in the latent image as exposure extends from point to point, but this has never been worked out in practice. The most simple and obvious fact is that where reversal occurs some over-anxious worker has examined his plate too frequently and too long during the progress of development. No dark-room light having sufficient visual luminosity to work by is wholly safe. And with this simple fact understood and due precautions taken, the spectre of reversal will vanish, no more to perplex your dreams of perfect results.Who would suspect that superstitions might hover around so prosaic an implement as the hydrometer? Yet this innocent and useful device may cause much trouble and bewilderment.plates than is possible otherwise. There is less superstition about the tank since the basic principles of tank development have become better known and recognized as correct.

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Eastman Professional School Negative

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Eastman Professional School Negative

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These are only a few of what may be termed photographic superstitions. The new and untried is not always safe or sure. On the other hand, if we cling too closely to traditions there will be no progress. Some of the new things have come to stay, others, like the fallacies of the past, will gradually disappear and, as time goes on, cease to be remembered.


Me an the Boss we wuz 2 a fren of hissens hous an thair wuz a feller thair wot did awl sortz ov funny trix with Kards an things. He dun menny merry-kulus things sutch az taikin mi ingersoll oute ov mi pocket with-oute mi noin it.I ask the Boss wuzzent he wunderphul 2 do that an the Boss sed he had scene times when moast enny won kood hav taikin the hair offen mi hed with-oute mi notin it.

I aint no trantz meedjium so I am wonderin jus wot he ment.

I hav bin praktising sum ov that fellers trix an I tole the

Boss that I felt that I wood B a suckcess at it an he sed he felt shure I wood Bkaus he had newer scene enny won moar sucksesful in slippin plaits in 2 the holders rong side 2 than me, an he thot it wood B wel 4 me 2 inklude jugglin.

The Boss says that he haz knoticed that theze parler enter-taners wot kan pull awl sortz ov munney oute ov other fellerz pokketz, kant xtract mutch frum thair oan.