Re: Swayback Reefers


I think it's the difference between orthographic chemistry and panographic chemistry film. Up to about 1930 the older chemistry with its different color translation was in use with both glass and later film negatives.
During about the '20's the other than most film applied chemistry with its different color absorption became today's preferred B/W photo chemistry.

Take that as the gist of it, the hard tech names may be different, but that is what happened. The old photo chemistry survived through the early era of a workable film media from its wet plate beginnings. 

Not until large scale mass production of later media films with the newer photo chemistry eclipsed the old tech, was the wet plate photo chemistry moved on by most people.

Into the 30's there was still some of the different spectrum absorbing photo chemistry in use.

That's the general situation. I have very specific links to documents going into greater depth on this including one that shows how best to interpret into actual colors for the B/W photos of the native Indians of the late 1800's. 

I didn't want hit anyone with a more in depth presentation. So I only skimmed the surface with that link.

As you can see I have to reread them to be certain to get my terms accurate beyond my present recall of the basics.

I'll access my computer in a few minutes and pass on a link to a page of links dealing with early 1900 and earlier 1800 paints and photo interpretation. They are closely related matters since almost all that we get to see of that past is the B/W photography of the day.

The several paint creation links to printed material of the day is timely since for many years including into the first years of this groups era of interest; many paints were made on the job from recipes, and we get to see photos of what was then and often confuse the newer color spectrum of the later B/W photos with what we think we see in the older chemistry photos.

Remember, up through the '30's the older chemistry was still in use. It makes color identification more challenging as you try to also cope with the different visual spectrums of the different photo processes.

Mike Bauers

On Dec 30, 2015, at 10:48 PM, "'Bruce F. Smith' smithbf@... [STMFC]" <STMFC@...> wrote:



Note that the images you point to are wet plate images, which represent some of the older photographs we might look at as a group.   Interestingly, it is just as inappropriate to lump "black and white film" into a single category as it is to do so for color (think ektachrome versus kodachrome). Other B&W films had other responses to different colors.  As was pointed out to me a number of years ago, on some B&W film, the yellow lettering of UTLX tank cars disappears into the black of the tank car body.

As always, one must be careful interpreting color from any image, be it B&W or color !


Bruce Smith

Auburn, AL 

From: STMFC@... <STMFC@...> on behalf of Mike Bauers mwbauers55@... [STMFC] <STMFC@...>
Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 8:46 PM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Swayback Reefers

That’s a quirk of the film emulsion chemistry.

Some very vivid color combinations that are easy to see the difference between in real color, turn into very similar grays in the old B/W film chemistry.

Look here, and you’ll see that very different looking orange, yellow, and green as colors, convert to almost identical grays in the old B/W film renderings.

the isolated image..

Isn’t that a mind-blower ?

Those cars could be very vividly colored in the full-spectrum world.

Best to ya,
Mike Bauers
Milwaukee, Wi

On Dec 30, 2015, at 8:11 PM, 'Schuyler Larrabee'  wrote:

Curious that you can read B&O on the car to the left of the reefers, but not a thing on the reefers themselves . . .




Subject: [STMFC] Swayback Reefers


The image link below is from the Seattle Municipal Archives and shows a string of reefers on Railroad Avenue. The date is July 19, 1917.
 Click on the link below and then click on the link below the image to see the TIF version and better details.

Join to automatically receive all group messages.