Modern tintype photography

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The internet is a wonderfully strange place at times. Via the Taiwanese blog robot action boy, I discovered Revealing Character, the website of a photographer who is doing old style tintype photography. On the site is a fascinating series of portraits of modern Texas cowboys and girls. To the right is a sample of one of the tintypes he's taken.

A description of what a tintype is from the website, "In 1856 Hamilton L. Smith of Ohio patented a new photographic method that came to be known as tintype. These one-of-a-kind images are made directly on a thin iron plate that has been coated with chemicals, exposed in a camera while still wet, and developed on the spot. Because the plates are iron, not tin, the more proper term is ferrotype, but the photographs have been commonly called tintypes from the beginning."

Since no negatives are involved, each photograph is unique as well as a mirrored image. The photographer can control the look of the tintype during the development and finishing stages of creating the photograph. He finishes each tintype by heating the plate and applying varnish to protect the plates. At the website there is a nice description of the entire tintype process, with modern photographs illustrating the steps, that the photographer used.

More modern tintypes can be seen at Studio Q.


terrye said...

I have a couple of old tintypes taken of long ago family members and they are really hard to see. I wonder if that is common with age?

flenser said...


Yeah, my eyes are getting bad also.