No photographic establishment in these days is considered to be well equipped that does not employ a skillful retoucher and provide all the apparatus and conveniences for the proper performance of this very important branch of the art.

It is within the memory of many photographers when this work of retouching was done on the positive, and some establishments were compelled to employ a large force of skilled hands to work up and finish the crude productions of the camera and the printing frame.

After the introduction of the carte de visite portrait, and later the Imperial card, and the consequent reduction in price, the expense of this work became such a burthen to photographers that they were compelled to perfect their mechanical operations to the utmost extent, and by every means to endeavor to avoid it.

It occurred then to some one of the retouching artists to do this work upon the negative once for all, and from this beginning the art of retouching the negative has reached its present high position.

Retouching, like stippling or hatching in miniature, is a work of art, skill in which is gained only by assiduous practice controlled by good taste, and it is the special work of the artist and not of the photographer.

While then it is not considered wise for the photographer to be his own retoucher any more than it is for every man to be his own lawyer or doctor, yet every photographer should know enough about the art and practice of retouching to appreciate good work and to detect the bad. And for that reason he should make a study of it both from the artistic and the mechanical points of view.

By such a course of study he will learn to produce that quality of negative that will require the least amount of improvement at the hands of the retoucher.

The work of retouching requires certain appliances to facilitate it, and its own special room or atelier. A small well-ventilated room having a window with a northern exposure is the best adapted for this work. This room should be supplied with the necessary conveniences, such as the retouching stand or frame, which in its earlier form is as represented in Fig 1, but which, after a time, became much improved upon; one form of i mpro v e-ment is shown in Fig. 2, but neither of these forms became universally used, as many artists fashioned their stands or frames to suit their individual taste or the requirements of their room or light. The march of improvement, however, is never delayed by such a condition of affairs, and was not in this case.

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Fig. 1.

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Fig. 2.

It became necessary on the part of those interested in the manufacture of such apparatus to produce something that should meet all requirements, and this has indeed been accomplished by the production of the desk represented in Fig 3, which is called the Novel Re-touching Desk and is suitable for any size of negative under 25x30; it has a false t p which can be pulled down to darken the space in front of the ground glass cut out.

The bed on which the negative is laid can be set at any inclination to suit the convenience of the artist.

By means of the slide-rest the negative may be moved up or down to any desired position.

It is handsomely made in hard wood, and would be quite an ornament to any retoucher's room.

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Fig. 3.

Next in importance would be a varnishing table, a small table or bench supplied with a gas or oil stove. See Figs. 4 and 5.

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Fig. 4. Common Gas Stove.

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Fig. 5. - Oil Stove.

Also Anthony's retouching varnish and varnish pot. See Fig 6, page 68.

A tin pot as shown in cut, with a filter and funnel in top; rubber stopper in spout.

The retoucher's room should also be supplied with

Faber's Siberian leads, full set,

Eagle lead pencils,

Metallic leads,

Camel's hair pencil brushes,

Camel's hair blender,

Guenther Wagner's retouch colors,

India ink,

Water colors, blue, white and red,

A coarse sharpening stone,

Fine emery paper.

The principal work of retouching, the stippling of the face, neck and shoulders when bare, and the hands, is done with Graphite or metallic leads, and directly upon the varnished or film surface.

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Fig. 6. - Peerless Varnish Pot and Filterer.

The gelatine emulsion film is strong enough to take the pencil without varnish, and many prefer to retouch and even to print them before varnishing; but it is pretty generally conceded that gelatine negatives will receive the pencil better when varnished.

Before varnishing a gelatine plate, heat it as much as it will bear, so as to drive off all moisture from the film, then let it cool to the proper temperature before applying the varnish.

If the varnish used is too smooth or hard to take the pencil, a better tooth may be given it by the application delicately, to the parts to be retouched only, of a solution of rosin in turpentine, which should be allowed to stand and dry an hour or so before the retouching is done.

The work of retouching is very trying to the eyes; great pains should therefore be taken to ascertain the most favorable conditions of light and distance under which to work.

A negative should be kept at one angle and stationary while being retouched.

There should be as little lead used on a negative as is consistent with good work; make every touch tell to some purpose.

Note carefully the way the subject is lighted, and let the effect of the stippling be in that direction; you will thus be less likely to change the character or likeness of the face.