C. F. Potter. Jr
The making of photographic post cards is a feature of camera work that does not seem to be receiving as much attention by amateurs in this country, as has been the rule abroad.
I do not believe we appreciate just what the illustrated post card means until we get away from home on a trip of some kind, especially if it takes us to a foreign land.
It is when the camera man gets away from home on an extended trip that he turns to the sensitized post card as the best means of keeping his friends and home folks posted as regards his whereabouts and affording them glimpses of what he and his camera are seeing.
Cards of the developing or " gas-light" variety will be found most convenient for the amateur en tour, and almost any room can, in the evening, be used for this work. The thorough-going amateur will, of course, develop the films as he goes along, and not trust to bringing back the whole lot for development after the trip is ended. The chances for deterioration seem to be greater after the light action has taken place, and one is liable to find the numbers on the black paper neatly printed off on the film, always, of course, in a prominent part of a negative.
The printing of post cards offers no especial features different from ordinary printing, except as regards the use of masks or cut outforms of paper, andthe necessity necessity of having a printing-frame of ample size in which to work and get any desired arrangement of mask and negative. I find an 8 x 10 frame with a glass in it, none too large for post card work from 4x6 negatives.
The usual form leaves a space for writing, either at the end or bottom or both. The only mask needed for these would be an "L" shaped one, with the long side narrow and the short side wider. Circles and other other forms may be used if desired for sake of variety.
A broad expanse of bare foreground maybe included in printing the card, and utilized for the writing space, this, of course, when the negative is larger than the post card dimensions. The usual size is three and three-eighths. Similarly, a blank expanse of sky could form the writing space, though in such a case it would be better to place the card lower down on the negative, leaving out most of the sky and using a mask to secure the writing space at the bottom of card.
It will be apparent to all that the printing of post cards from large negatives, where all of the negative is to be included, can be accomplished as in slide making, or the reverse of bromide enlarging. We might call it bromide reducing.
Our English cousins who go into these things "all over " and who have a larger number of manufacturers catering to their wants than we do here, have a special copying camera for post card reduction from large negatives, fitted with a special cardholder on the same principle as a plate holder. They use either the ordinary developing paper cards, or fast bromide cards; the latter being preferable because much quicker.
There are several other processes adapted to post card work and the prepared cards can now be had in a printing-out matte paper and in platinotype, the latter certainly being the method de lux, though perhaps more liable to damage in the mails.
The ordinary government cards can be used and coated with various sensitizing solutions if one cares to attempt this work, but let me warn you against coating them with blue-print solution if you care anything about your reputation. The cards are of cream or yellow tint and no matter how well the blue print is done you cannot get rid of the yellowish high-lights, looking exactly as if the chemicals had not been properly washed out of your print, and the tones don't "jibe" worth a cent.
Kallitype or any of the processes giving brown tones can be used to excellent advantage, and by coating just the space you wish to print upon, with a solid center coating and lightly coated edges, you can get a vignetted effect in the print. The cream tone of the card harmonizes with the brown print, and, indeed you can find no better example of this pleasing combination than the Sepia paper which is also furnished in post card size with the usual inscriptions on the address side.
We can refer readers who wish to coat their own card to Kallitype and other processes, or they may get the Photo-Miniature booklet on that subject, and also on Plain-Paper Printing. A ready prepared sensitizer called "Etchine" is on the market and well known and I can speak very highly of it from personal expe- rience.
Many of our readers will find themselves so located as to make a commercial use of the picture post card craze, as for instance: an acquaintance of mine who lived near a large summer resort and did developing and printing for the visitors. Ordinarily the one print of each subject would be all he would get to do, and he decided to show some of his customers how nice their pictures would look on sepia post cards. Selecting some of their best films in the next batch he developed, he made prints on the cards and found the idea was a winner. Many of the visiting " snap-shot" had not heard of the post cards, but when they saw how nicely they could remember the friends at home without much trouble on their part (the summer resort visitor is not looking for trouble) and at a slight ex-ex-pense, my friend soon found that he had all he could do to supply the demand.
The collecting of picture post cards has become quite a fad, and among photographers there are now several "exchanges" or clubs who exchange cards, limiting their selections to photographic cards of their own make exclusively. Such a club is a branch of the International Photographic Fxchange, a most healthy organization conducted by Mr. F. S. Clute of San Francisco, and a membership in it would bring any of our readers into communication with numerous good workers in this country and abroad. The mission of the post card seems to be that of showing the main points of interest attaching to the place from which they are mailed, rather than reproducing merely artistic or miscellaneous subjects.
A rather reoent ruling of the Post Office Department, requires that all the cancelling on a postal card of any kind be done on the address side. This was a measure adopted to prevent the disfiguring of the illustrated cards, and we are sorry to see that some persons have not been content to use the post card privilege for the purposes originally intended, but have over-stepped the bounds of propriety in printing pictures on mailing cards that are of such a character as to debar them from the mails. We trust such abuse can be dealt with in a fitting manner and that they will not result in a rescinding of the whole picture post card privilege.
Properly conducted, the exchanging of illustrated cards may be made both interesting and educational to a large degree, and to that end the cards should represent some feature of natural, historical, architectural or other interest peculiar to the place from which they are mailed, or present local types of the people and their modes of living, etc.
Those of our readers who have obtained some insight into the dollars and cents side of the work, will not be slow to recognize the many opportunities afforded in their local fields for the exploitation of the post card idea. A suggestion or two may not be amiss. Your local hotel keeps a supply of stationery for the free use of its guests. Make a better negative of the hotel than the cut they use, print it on the sensitized post card, show it to the proprietor and explain how a half-tone reproduction could be made and cards printed to supplement the office stationery. Tell him how the cards would often be used for short notes, taking the place of paper and envelopes and making a saving In that way for him. How each card mailed would carry with it a fine view of the hotel, advertising it all over the country at the expense of his guests who pay the postage.
Perhaps your town boasts a department store with a writing room for the accommodation of shoppers. Here the same idea might be put into effect and cards illustrated with views of the various interior and exterior features of the building.
In handling such orders you will, of course, first have gotten figures from engraver and printer for get-tingthe cards printed and half-tone " blocks " made from your prints so you will be in a position to quote prices.
If the book and news stores of your city do not already carry a line of post cards illustrating the principal points of interest in and about your locality, you will find a large opening awaiting your endeavors, with a fair promise of ample returns for the work providing you have the knack of selecting the most favorable points of view and making better photographs than" the other fellow."-"Western Camera Notes."