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Author Topic: Victorian/SP photographer  (Read 3814 times)
George Salt
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« on: February 27, 2014, 01:10:27 pm »

I may need to turn around my first costume quite quickly.. I forgot my brother-in-law set a BTTF/Time Travel theme for his birthday next month.  My principal hobby is photography, and I'm generally the unofficial photographer of family gatherings.  A prop or functional plate camera* and tripod isn't going to be practical but I'd like to take this opportunity to make some progress towards a SP photographer persona..

Going through my carte de visite collection I'm struck by this gentleman, who in his piped velvet waistcoat and jacket seems to cut a very fine figure of an artist or photographer.



Can the forum members with a better knowledge of fashion than me help me deconstruct his costume?

The jacket and waistcoat appear to be matching velvet with matching piping.  My knowledge of the photography of the period makes me think that the velvet is probably a warm colour, a rich red or green, and that the piping is a somewhat cooler shade - possibly a contrasting colour?

I don't know how to describe the cut of the jacket, or where I'd go about finding one (46/48 long)?

I'd probably put my own twist on the shirt/tie by going open-neck with a cravat - because I already have this.  And I have a fetching pair of deep red moleskin trousers and a pair of brown leather brogue-style boots, and thanks to my better half a brown top hat that arrived for my birthday.  So I'm already looking to deviate significantly from my inspiration.

Open to ideas, and suggestions on where to source a suitable jacket/waistcoat.



*I do have a very cunning plan for the future though.. until last week it was merely a cunning plan but it's had a slight change of tack this week..
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 01:18:38 pm »

For the time travel theme, I did wonder about adding a little Malkovich to the mix..

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

.. with a big brass alarm clock..
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ColeV
Gunner
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United States United States



« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 03:16:46 pm »

It's definitely a cotton velvet, though very likely black trimmed in silk grosgrain ribbon (the shine of the ribbon has it show up much lighter in photographs). Men were already tediously in love with black by this time. These are both boys jackets, but they use the same construction methods: http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/159420?rpp=20&pg=5&rndkey=20140227&ao=on&ft=*&when=A.D.+1800-1900&what=Costume%7cSuits&pos=83
http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/103212?rpp=20&pg=5&rndkey=20140227&ao=on&ft=*&when=A.D.+1800-1900&what=Costume%7cSuits&pos=95

The image is probably 1870s and the gentleman is wearing a sack coat. As you can see, there's very little fitting occurring in the coat other than the shoulders. No waist seam or large darts to pull it in to shape.
I do love your idea of the coat being much more colorful, though I wish I had a source to provide you with such a finished item! Good luck!
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 07:35:20 pm »

Thanks for that information, now I know how to refer to the style and your estimate of the date matches the pencil note on the back of the card (very helpful because the photographer is a distant ancestor and dating the style of the backs helps me place cards on his time-line).
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Arabella Periscope
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


Edwardian summer


« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2014, 01:46:54 am »

Intrigued by your photograph, and the unusual and attractive piping or binding on the jacket and waistcoat, I did a little research and found an interesting article about the origins of the Blazer in the Gentlemans' Gazette.  Apparently the strong colors, if your ancestor's jacket was a deep or strong color, were originally symbolic of a club or rank, as was the piping.  The only piping I saw on regular jackets seems to have been on smoking jackets, and to have been like the corded trim on silk dressing gowns.  But it does look like grosgrain ribbon. And the jacket is not a blazer shape, nor does it have metal buttons or a crest, or stripes.  Nicer than the usual Victorian male garb; more artistic, perhaps, if it is of velvet.
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Drew P
Zeppelin Admiral
******
United States United States


« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2014, 03:24:00 am »

Dark purple velvet with green(-ish) piping.

Too WillyWonka?


And ColeV, you must now post a larger image of your avatar in the Pin-up thread. That looks beautifully done!
Maybe not so pin-up, but period perfect and alluring. Smiley
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Always ask 'Why not!?'
George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2014, 09:34:28 pm »

It's turning into more of a Dr Who with a steampunk twist at the moment.. at least for this first outing, but it's a start. I've managed to bag a cotton corduroy jacket in mu size on Ebay, not velvet but similar.  And the cut is probably more 1970 than 1870.  Teal corduroy with maroon moleskins, my instinct tells me that Dr Who would add a yellow waistcoat with a watch chain..


Going back to the original carte de visite I posted.  It was taken in the studio of a distant family member who had a studio in Scarborough during the Victorian period, but as to who the gentleman in the photo there is no indication.

If there is a club association, I do know that the photographer was a proud member of the Masons.  He quite freely used the square and compass on the card backs of the cartes and is noted in newspapers of the time as attending lodge events.  Photography was quite a family business for that branch of the family.  We've identified two brothers as photographers (we're very certain of their relationship but are struggling to find documentary proof, one brother has a rather sordid tale of lust and death..), their sister who's husband took up the trade, a daughter that's also noted as a photographer for a time (the daughter of one of the brothers but living with her aunt), and a cousin of the brothers/sister.  They were most active in the Skipton-Doncaster-Sheffield-Scarborough area, but at least one spent time as a travelling photographer with a caravan and later had a studio in Kent.  On-line newspaper archives have been very useful for picking up their stories between the official paperwork (census returns,records of hatches/matches/dispatches).
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Otto Von Pifka
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goggles? they're here somewhere.....


« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2014, 08:38:53 am »

the details and the accessories can make the difference.

a shirt and tie that looks the part, as well as your pocket watch will go a long ways towards making it look older.

as for the camera, maybe a large box (like a thin wooden or even cloth shelf/toy/clothing box from an ikea) with a round opening with a short tube in it, to look like the lens. a plastic toilet flange and a bit of pipe could be painted black and bolted to the box for that. or maybe a round box with a lid that you remove when taking the picture then replace when done.

inside could be a laptop computer with the camera facing out the hole, so you duck under a cloth cover to check the picture and then reach under from the side to snap the photo. you can even photoshop the picture right then and there. wifi out and boom, done.
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2014, 10:23:28 am »

This is the jacket, what it lacksin immediate steaminess it gains in potential..

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I have a pseudo box camera in mind, but not in time for this trip - this time it will be my retro-looking X-Pro1.

I'd like to put together a kamra-e-faoree (or Afghan box camera - see link) which is about as crude as it gets using available parts and simple chemistry.

The digital view camera project would be to use an older DSLR with a Petzvel lens inside a wooden shell, shooting tethered with an old laptop providing the replacement for the ground glass viewing screen at the back of the box under the fabric hood.  The Selphy printers have a standard print pack that's just a couple of mm adrift from the standard image size of a carte de visite, and I have a client that can print and cut card backs to the right CDV size.

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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2014, 02:11:05 pm »

The jacket has arrived, just got it unpacked and upon a hanger to let the creases work out.  Initial observations..
  • Excellent condition, it looks like it's never been worn - I always check for watch-rubbing inside the left cuff as well as the more obvious elbows and back of the collar.
  • It's not corduroy (as it was described), but more of a canvas/linen type weave - so no velvety appearance.
  • The cut is subtle, not as obviously tailored as the Ebay photo suggested

Whilst it's not going to match my inspiration, it's something I can work with.  Next on the list is to track down a waistcoat and watch chain.  It's all going to come down to accessories.
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2014, 03:23:23 pm »

A quick request..

Does anyone know where (in the UK) I might be able to find a mustard yellow waistcoat (46" chest)?
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Heckler
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2014, 03:36:47 pm »

Here: ]http://www.mytuxedo.co.uk/mens/formalwear/waistcoats/?primary_colour=[71]

Colour is a bit urgh or perhaps:

Here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mustard-Yellow-Suede-Effect-Waistcoat/dp/B00D2TK8US/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394030133&sr=8-1&keywords=mustard+yellow+waistcoat
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2014, 04:29:22 pm »

Thanks, I'll think about those.
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2014, 11:56:21 am »

Ok.. with my brother-in-law's theme party just around the corner, the v.0.1 beta costume is pretty much together.. admittedly, I've not hit the mark I originally set myself with respect to the original source photograph, but I think it's passably time-traveller/steampunk - although I think there's more than the touch of Doctor Who about it.

Excuse the rather truncated height, my valet stand is doing duty as a mannequin and it's a good 2' shorter in the leg than I am.  And the boots need a polish..



There is a pocket watch on the end of the single chain, nothing spectacular just a 1949 Ingersoll Triumph.  But it is mechanical and it does tick very loudly.

The shirt isn't right, but it's in my wardrobe right-now which is the important thing.  To be honest, the entire ensemble is comprised of pieces that are acceptable compromises.  But it's a base to be improved upon with time.
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walking stick
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England England


« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2014, 01:51:57 pm »

Good outfit I've seen much less together first attempts. If you've time you could replace the check handkerchief with large white or paisley pattern for a more old fashioned look.  At a Victorian party some years ago the camera was mounted in a box on a wooden tripod and the photographer used a blackout cloth.  It was probably not a Victorian Camera but it gave the impression quite well.
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2014, 02:22:51 pm »

Good outfit I've seen much less together first attempts. If you've time you could replace the check handkerchief with large white or paisley pattern for a more old fashioned look.  At a Victorian party some years ago the camera was mounted in a box on a wooden tripod and the photographer used a blackout cloth.  It was probably not a Victorian Camera but it gave the impression quite well.

Thank you. Once the jacket arrived, and I realised it wasn't quite what I expected from the description, I could start to put the rest together in my head and it's turned out pretty much the way I envisioned it.  A yellow waistcoat (my first thought) would have looked too garish, but the brown suede-effect one I've found echoes the boots and the hat.  I have a few more pocket squares I can choose from, although none in paisley.  I have some ideas for a box-style camera for the future - but for now I'll stick with my Fuji digital.  If I had the close-up portrait adapters for my Polaroid Land camera I might have taken that, but without it the minimum focussing distance really limits it for indoor parties.
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FenrisWolf
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« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2014, 04:51:44 pm »

That looks really good. Well done Sir Smiley
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Fenris Wolf
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2014, 11:20:51 am »

I find carte de visite quite an interesting window into the Victorian period.  Whilst looking through my collection to see how gentlemen were wearing their pocket watches I noticed that the left-hand waistcoat pocket is favoured by most sitters.

I also came across this gentleman, who's pushed his watch chain bar through from the reverse which is a style I hadn't even considered.  A bit of searching suggests this is an uncommon style, but occasionally seen.



The top button being done-up quite tightly and the jacket splayed open to reveal the waistcoat and pocket watch chain is a very typical feature of male portraits of the era. Well worth replicating this pose if you wish to appear the Victorian gentleman in a photograph.

The observant may note the similarity in the names of the photographers, this is a family of photographers I have a particular interest in.  John and George were cousins and both operated photography studios, John in Scarborough and George in Skipton (although I know George also briefly worked in Scarborough).  John also had a brother James who was a photographer (as a travelling photographer and later in Kent) and they had a sister who's husband was a photographer (in Gainsborough and Scarborough, whether he was a photographer before the marriage isn't clear).  The sister later took-in the daughter of James, who later took over her uncle's business at least for a few years after he died.  All of this starts within a decade of the carte de visite being invented, and with Fox Talbot's first prints barely dry.
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FenrisWolf
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« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2014, 09:17:44 pm »

That's a great resource... you going to scan them all?

If you need any help in restoring them, I do a lot of photo restoration work for museums and private collections.

btw - Just 'followed' you on Flickr Smiley
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2014, 12:12:40 am »

I was planning on a scanning on them to archive, most need very little restoration work as such - the two posted on this thread are just very quick droid scans rather than setting up a flatbed.

I could do a "Victorian of the week" post/blog - if anyone was interested, and if I could get some help identifying costumes and deconstructing the images themselves.  It is my intent to (eventually) put together a guide to better steampunk and neo-Victorian fauxtography.

By the way, just back from the party trip and the costume was a great success!  photo will follow later in the week.. One of the best compliments was that I looked so comfortable wearing it that they thought I probably dressed like that every day!
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2014, 12:37:24 pm »

Another from my collection to hopefully provide some insight/inspiration for Steampunk/Neo-Victorian Fauxtography.

This one is different from those I've posted above in that in portrays a couple.  Images of couples are not unusual in Victorian photography, but they are much less common than photographs of individuals.  Even wedding portraits frequently feature the bride and groom in separate images.



Dating is suggested by the pencil note "1862" on the reverse and this date and the address of "The Cliff" are consistent with what is known of the photographer John Inskip at this time.  There are no clues as to the names of the sitters.

The pose is remarkably intimate and very modern looking, probably not a pose most people would associate with the mid-Victorian period.

Fashions isn't my area of expertise, so if anyone would like to comment on that aspect of the image it would be appreciated.


Notes for the fauxtographer:

The camera has been brought close-in to the sitters, it's uncertain whether this is a deliberate stylistic choice or if the studio at The Cliff was smaller than average.  The other examples attributed to this studio that I have in my collection are biased towards the near- and middle-distance rather than the long view examples that can be attributed to other studios.  The frame has not been filled, there is plenty of empty space at the top of the frame.  The empty space may be deliberate (the eyes are placed about half-way up the frame), or it could be that the tripod/mount of the camera wasn't adaptable enough to provide a lower perspective.

The vignette fading that is most noticeable at the bottom of the image but can also be seen at the top and sides has probably been applied during the printing process.  Prints were contacted printed with the developed negative plate being held in contact with the printing paper and exposed to sun light in a frame resembling the offspring of a garden cold frame and a book stand.  Once the correct exposure has been made for the image, the centre is masked to protect it from sunlight whilst the edges are further exposed until the detail burns out.  For digitally reproducing this, the recent addition of the radial tool in Lightroom is handy.

The depth of focus is complete, there is no fall-off in focus or presence of bokeh.  The tonal range is very good, and the lighting soft.  This would have been taken as an indoor portrait using natural light only (flash powder on a stick is a cliche that would almost never be used for a portrait) with diffuse sunlight. Studios of the period had roofs that resembled greenhouses, with screens, shutters and veils to control the fall of the light.  This big, soft light is characteristic of portraits of the period.

The background is plain, with just a hint of the back of the chair the man is sitting on appearing at the far right of the image.  I suspect the woman is sitting on a taller stool to elevate her higher than the man.

Note that the woman's hands have been arranged to make sure that the ring finger of her left hand is visible.  I believe this is deliberate as it's a very common feature of photographic portraits of women in my collection.



Taking a closer look, it can be seen that she is wearing one or more rings on her ring finger.


I think this would make an interesting pose to replicate as a fauxtograph.  If a gentleman wishes to include his hat-with-goggles in a pose like this, I suggest it's not worn, but placed on the lap under the left arm.
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2014, 02:51:39 pm »

A portrait of a lady, from the studio of Walter Fisher, Filey.  No note of date of the sitting or the name of the sitter.  Walter Fisher was a prominent photographer in Filey and was known to be operating at this address in the late 1870s and early 1880s.  This photograph is therefore 15-20 years later in date to that posted last week.

The backing card is different in style to the previous carte, with no border to the front, rounded corners and a more elaborately printed back.  Like John Inskip, Walter Fisher is prominently displaying his association with Freemasonry with the use of the square and compass device.



The composition is classical Victorian portrait photography, with a seated subject and the use of props (chair and table) to provide a sense of every day location.  The background is simple, with a hint of pattern at the right and a drape of fabric to the left.  There is sufficient distance between the subject and the background to allow it to fall out of focus.



In close-up we can see that again, with a woman as subject the left-hand ring finger is placed where it can be seen and the presence of one or more rings on this finger can be made out.

A number of objects can be seen worn on a chain that falls below the waistline.
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FenrisWolf
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« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2014, 03:52:24 pm »

A number of objects can be seen worn on a chain that falls below the waistline.

You probably know this already...

By identifying these objects you might be able to find out her trade. The whistle (for example) could be something that a teacher would have.
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2014, 04:26:15 pm »

A number of objects can be seen worn on a chain that falls below the waistline.

You probably know this already...

By identifying these objects you might be able to find out her trade. The whistle (for example) could be something that a teacher would have.

Possibly, to me it looks like a locket (or  watch), a small fan?, pencil, folding glasses? and the fifth object I'm really not sure on.

Sometimes you see keys prominently displayed in this way, which communicates that the woman is mistress of the home - or as I heard on on a documentary recently that, "she controls access to the locked places".

The language of symbols and icons in Victorian photography is something I'd like to understand better.
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George Salt
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2014, 01:50:53 pm »

A number of objects can be seen worn on a chain that falls below the waistline.

You probably know this already...

By identifying these objects you might be able to find out her trade. The whistle (for example) could be something that a teacher would have.

Possibly, to me it looks like a locket (or  watch), a small fan?, pencil, folding glasses? and the fifth object I'm really not sure on.

I'm starting to learn some new words describing the photos in this thread.  I think I'm right in describing the chain worn below the waste as a chatelaine, and the fourth item from the left as lorgnette (spectacles held with a handle).

Chatelaine items, left to right:
  • Unknown
  • Unknown
  • Pencil?
  • Lorgnette
  • Thimble?
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