This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
Captain Bing, who is employed in the topographic studios of the Ministry of War, has devised a process for the direct conversion of negatives into positives. The idea is not a new one; but several experimenters, and notably the late Thomas Sutton, have pointed out the means of effecting this conversion; it has never, however, so far as I know, been introduced into actual practice, as is now the case. The process which I am about to describe is now worked in the studios of the Topographic Service. The negative image is developed in the ordinary way, but the development is carried much further than if it were to be used as an ordinary negative. After developing and thoroughly washing, the negative is placed on a black cloth with the collodion side downward, and exposed to diffuse light for a time, which varies from a few seconds to two or three minutes, according to the intensity of the plate. Afterward the conversion is effected by moistening the plate afresh, and then plunging it into a bath which is thus composed:
Water 700 cub. cents. Potassium bichromate 30 grams. Pure nitric acid 300 cub. cents.
In a few minutes this solution will dissolve all the reduced silver forming the negative; the negative image is therefore entirely destroyed; but it has served to impress on the sensitive film beneath it a positive image, which is still in a latent condition. It must, therefore, be developed, and to do this, the film is treated with a solution of--
Water 1,000 grams Pyrogallic acid 25 " Citric acid 20 " Alcohol of 36° 50 cub. cents.
The process is carried on exactly as if developing an ordinary negative; but the action of the developer is stopped at the precise moment when the positive has acquired intensity sufficient for the purpose for which it is to be used. Fixing, varnishing, etc., are then carried on the usual way. The great advantage of this process consists in the fact of its rendering positives of much greater delicacy than those that are taken by contact; and, on the other hand, by means of it we are able to avoid two distinct operations, when for certain kinds of work we require positive plates where a negative would be of no service. M. V. Rau, the assistant who has carried out this process under the direction of Captain Bing, has described it in a work which has just been published by M. Gauthier-Villars.