OCCASIONALLY the pho-tographer, especially if he is an old timer, complains that the negatives that are being made now-a-days are not what they used to be. He insists that in the old days the negatives had to be uniform or the results could not be uniform as there was only one paper to use. And of course the negatives were wonderful in those old days - any of the old timers will tell you so - which sometimes makes the newer arrivals in the profession wonder if we are not really going backwards instead of making the progress we should be making.

Wonderful improvements have been made in negative making materials. They have more quality, more latitude and more speed. Film has overcome halation and introduced a quality that is all its own, and Super- Speed Film has made under-exposures altogether unnecessary. And yet an old timer will occasionally be able to convince someone that all of this progress merely makes the photographer careless and does not help him to produce better work.

One of these arguments came up in a studio not long ago, in fact the photographer who owned the studio started it. He had been using a developer that was not giving him negatives of the best printing quality and was blaming everyone but himself. Years ago he had been the printer for his father in this same studio and some day he was going to get out a lot of those old negatives and show the demonstrator how they used to turn them out. They had to come up to a certain fixed standard or they went into the scrap heap.

His printer had heard a part of this conversation and remarked that he had one of those old negatives in the printing room for a duplicate order that was being made for some customer. Of course the photographer wanted to see it for he really believed what he had been saying.

The negative was bad - in fact it was very bad, but that wasn't convincing. Of course they did make mistakes in the old days just the same as they do now. Sometimes they had to let a poor negative go through. But they didn't do it often.

One negative was not proof. If you could go over several dozen of those old negatives you could get some idea of what the negative quality of the old days really was. Probably it was natural for the son to feel that way about his father's work but the demonstrator felt that it would make him a better photographer if he could be separated from the illusion.

So he suggested that they take the time to look up several dozen of those good old negatives, picked at random, just to see if they couldn't learn something from the past.

From An Eastman Portrait Film Negative By Thos. H. Ince Studios Culver City, Cal.

From An Eastman Portrait Film Negative By Thos. H. Ince Studios Culver City, Cal.

And they did learn.

Those negatives were a revelation to the son. But not the kind of a revelation he had expected. Imagination had been getting the better of him. Those negatives made in the good old days probably were better than negatives made still earlier. They certainly were not better than those made today.

This photographer who had taken up the business of his father would be ashamed to make such negatives today.

He admitted it and recalled that they did have to use a lot of tissue paper and blue and yellow and red dope to make them print even. And he felt pretty good when he compared those negatives with his present work.

They were good negatives for those days, but it isn't wise to harbor any illusions. Photographers are doing a much better average of work today and there is the possibility of going away above the average. Any careful workman who applies himself to his task can produce results that would have been altogether impossible in the "good old days."

Forget the past, pull up the old stakes and set the line ahead. It isn't what has been done but what can be done that concerns the man who has the will to get ahead in his profession.