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eureka!

July 20, 2010

Some years ago I walked into an antique shop and purchased an old box of glass plates that looked like oversized film negatives. I had no idea what they were for or what I would do with them.
I was intrigued at the look of the box and inside were reversed images of people from a long, long time ago. I could see enough detail to make out small children, a man on a bicycle, a woman holding a baby.
With money burning a hole in my pocket I purchased the box and took it home to collect dust for the next twelve years, give or take a few.

Glass plate package

Glass plate package

Many times I have had them out of the box and wondered what the images really looked like…
Glass plate package

In between the plates are pieces of old newspaper from the Toledo Blade. There is no date to give hint to when they might have been taken other than a snippet of an article about coal and tar tariffs. A little wiki-research gave me the date 1914. A few years short of 100 years ago.
There are a few advertisements claiming corsets priced $1.50 to $5.00 and Figoid’s laxatives with no harmful after effects. I don’t know about those ladies back then but you get what you pay for. I bet those five dollar corsets fit a whole lot better than the buck-fifty ones. Not to mention that the laxative was probably pretty pricey and wearing a cheap corset all day would bind anyone up. You’d have to spend the money anyway!
No harmful after-effects…? Were laxatives different back then?
Glass plate package

It was not until recently with my interest in photography that I thought about trying to find a way to process these plates. Info I found online gave detailed directions that I just did not feel like putting my heart into. Call me lazy. But then I discovered an easy way to convert them.

Sometimes I use an online photo editing site called picnik. I don’t edit my photos often enough to invest in photoshop so for now this little site works for me.
It was recently that I discovered a little “effect” that inverts an image.

It can take any picture, color or black and white, and invert it to the negative…
Last day as a 5 year old Last day as a 5 year old

I figured it would work the other way also. So I scanned my glass plates, uploaded them to the site and…
Eureka! It worked! Yes, it worked! Maria, my sister, where are you? Look what I did!…

This plate….
glass plate scan 1
is this photo…
glass plate scan 1 inverted

and this plate…
dry plate 2
is this one…
dry plate 2 inverted

Now I think I might of made the mistake of having the wrong side face down on the scanner which made some of them slightly blurry. Or it could just be the photographer’s error. I”m not sure yet.
I’m just so excited to finally be able to see the images.
The box says a dozen plates but there are only nine in there. And even though I have always handled them very carefully, I dropped one putting it on the scanner and it broke. Can you believe it?

dry plate 3

dry plate 3 inverted

I think someday I will get these printed and display them with the box somehow. Maybe in a shadowbox. Until then I look at the digital versions and wonder about the photo taker, the family captured, their clothes and the environment that looks so foreign.

I leave you with the rest of the regular and the inverted images. Enjoy.
Until next time,
~Victoria

dry plate 9 dry plate 9 inverted

dry plate 8 dry plate 8 inverted

dry plate 6 dry plate 6 inverted

dry plate  5 dry plate  5 inverted

dry plate 4 dry plate 4 inverted

dry plate 7dry plate 7 inverted

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2010 12:41 am

    Wow, the photos are all so stunning! Interesting that you didn’t know why you bought them & then it turns out you really brought them alive, incredible. Thanks for ‘reposting.’ Katie x

    • Victoria permalink*
      October 14, 2010 9:09 am

      That’s true, Katie! I didn’t think of it that way. Though it took me years to finally figure out a way to do it, I held on to them all that time. Thanks for that perspective!

  2. Andrea permalink
    October 13, 2010 10:22 pm

    I followed your link from Soulemama too, and these are amazing! Thanks for the link to picnik, I will def. be stopping by there.

    • Victoria permalink*
      October 14, 2010 9:10 am

      Hope you enjoy it. It has been handy more than a handful of times besides this project.
      Thanks for visiting from Soulemama :)

  3. October 13, 2010 6:54 pm

    I followed your link from Soulemama…wow!! These are so magical! Love them.

    • Victoria permalink*
      October 14, 2010 9:11 am

      Thank you, Mamaholt. Glad you followed the link :)

  4. Maria permalink
    July 20, 2010 6:41 pm

    That is sooo coool!!! I got your email today and didn’t get a chance to browse, so I wondered what the hell you were sending me. But the pics turned out awesome! I really like the one with the man standing on a porch. It’s so clear. He’s probably only 14, but looks 35.

  5. July 20, 2010 3:01 pm

    So very cool! I never would have thought of that! I think the images are pretty stellar – you could find a neat way to display them. I’ve looked at them about five times now and I still think its so cool.

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