Wednesday, June 11, 2014

T is for Tintype

We're skipping ahead a few letters in preparation for Victoria Will's upcoming event, "Portraits Under Pressure" during which she will be showing some of her famous tintypes. 

So, today in the ABCs of photography:

T is for Tintype

Tintype (tin-tahyp): also known as a melainotype or ferrotype, is a positive photograph produced by applying a collodion-nitrocellulose solution to a thin, black-enameled metal plate immediately before exposure. The tintype, introduced in the mid-19th century, was essentially a variation on the ambrotype, which was a unique image made on glass, instead of metal. Just as the ambrotype was a negative whose silver images appeared grayish which and whose dark backing made the clear areas of shadows appear dark, so the tintype, actually negative in its chemical formation, was made to appear positive by the black plate.

You may remember a blog post we had a while back about Victoria Will. During this year's Sundance Film Festival, Victoria, an experienced celebrity photographer, brought her 4x5 camera and photographed some of the world's most famed and beloved actors and actresses as tintypes. This is impressive, not only because the process is complicated (especially compared to most photographers at big events like this that shoot about a million photos on their DSLRs), but also because she had a short amount of time and only one shot.  

The look of the tintype is very unique. As mentioned in the definition, tintypes are on, you guessed it, tin. This sleek, shiny surface adds a little something extra to each image. You often lose a lot of that special gleam when you try to reproduce a tintype, whether through scanning or copy-stand. We found this great video on the tintype process, which you can watch here.

To learn more about her process in working quickly with celebrities, and to see some of her images up close and personal, come by her talk on June 24th from 4:30-8:30pm