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Whotypes? Albertypes!

Jun 11, 2012 10:00 AM | 0 comments

How many early photographic printing processes can you name? I'll bet Daguerreotypes would be on the list, maybe tintypes, and enthusiasts will name ambrotypes, collodion prints, albumen prints, cyanotypes. A small collection of ours consists of 21 Albertypes showing Brooklyn scenes from 1904. They seem to have been published in an album, from which the pages have now been detached, by A. Wittemann, Publisher of American Views, 250 Adams St, Brooklyn NY.

What, you may ask, is an Albertype? According to Beaumont Newhall's History of Photography, it is a process that depends on bichromated gelatin. Joself Albert of Munich who perfected the process, gave his name to these prints of a fine and delicate grain that became popular for the reproduction of paintings.

Among our Albertypes are a few that suggest revisiting earlier blog posts. This image of the The Vale of Cashmere  beats anything we found back in March.

Through the matte finish of the Albertype one can see extraordinary detail. In the image of the Vale of Cashmere, for example, the variety of leaf structure of the foreground plants, the drops of water falling from the central plume of the fountain, the translated shades of green, even the background grass, appear as a three-dimensional field of variegated texture.

And here is a view of Brooklyn's sugar refineries that would have made a handsome addition to How Sweet it Was. The sturdy rhythms of industrial architecture punctuated by decorative brickwork, the distant docks all covered in a pearly haze--all have an almost hallucinatory clarity, the world seen in a moment of complete mindfulness.

Finally, here is the site of our library building, an image that might have given me yet another reason to wax lyrical in an early post on the Belcher Hyde atlases--probably just as well I didn't have it back in 2008. There is the water tower, the reservoir that is now Mount Prospect Park, and the truncated Brooklyn Museum. And here we are, still hovering somewhere in front of the tower, nearly four years later and still blogging.