In recent years cameras and a Barometer by Bland and Long have come up for auction at Christies. 153 Fleet street is still there , although it is hard to tell if it is the same building. The bad news is that it is a Mcdonalds restaurant !
Between 1854 and 1856 Long was busy experimenting with the paper process. 1856 seems to have been the height of his activity. He became a member of the Photographic society of London , he became a regular contributor to Thomas Sutton Photographic notes and he released a revised edition of has manual. Interestingly Photographic notes seems to have been published at 153 Fleet street .
The manual remains essentially the same. Of the Calotype processes only the waxed process has changed. I am not sure why because his original process works very well but Long changes the ingredients of the Iodizer to include Iodide of Cadmium and Bromide of Cadmium. The main reason was to eliminate the gravely skies that plagued those that practiced the waxed paper process. In the Catalogue is a section on making Stereo images and of course the necessary equipment this was very fashionable at the time. Indeed the only reference I have been able to find of actual photography from Bland and Long is that they exhibited Mirror stereoscopes at the 1854 London photographic society exhibition .
Late in 1856 Long made a presentation to the Photographic society of London. . This is detailed in the December 22nd edition 1856.
He made the presentation to the Luminaries of the photographic world at the time including Sir William Newton , O G Rejlander, and Roger Fenton. Fenton was one of the leading English photographers of the 1850’s famous for his images of the Crimean war and also as Photographer to the Royal family .We can learn a lot from this presentation entitled “On some modifications of the paper processes”
Long definitely saw the potential of the Calotype .
“The process to which I have most exclusively confined my experiments are the Calotype, the waxed paper process and the positive paper process “
“ I purpose to string together such notes and observations as have appeared to me pertinent , during a considerable time spent in experimenting on the various photographic processes on paper . I do not purpose to raise the old war cry of paper versus collodion , but I think it is fair to state my conviction , that for most subjects of landscape and allied subjects the paper stands pre-eminent the Collodion process in such hands as those of our late Honorary Secretary , and of many others equally successful in that branch of the art, produces wonderful results, but for subjects where texture , gradations of tint and distance are required , there is nothing in my opinion to compare with a good picture from the Calotype or waxed paper negative. Other advantages attending the use of paper , as a medium for preserving the photographic image have frequently been forced upon all photographer s - such as the lightness of paper as compared with glass ; the small quantity of chemicals that are necessary on a photographic tour, as compared with those required in the Collodion process : and the keeping qualities of the sensitive waxed paper with certainty of good results compared with the uncertainty of all the processes hitherto proposed for keeping Collodion plates sensitive - to say nothing of the liability of glass plates to breakage against the liability of glass plates to breakage against the almost impossibility of injuring a paper picture . “
He had the following to say about the waxed process , it also details his methodical approach.
“We next come to the waxed process, of all the paper processes, perhaps, there is none other that has yielded such certain results in the hands of the uninitiated, as that on waxed paper, and there is no other process which bears on the face of it so much complication . Take for example the iodizing solution , as recommended by various operators. The rice-water , the Isinglass the gum , the albumen, the sugar of milk , the cyanide and fluoride of potassium , the cholride of sodium etc , and yet there is no process essentially so simple: if any one will trouble himself to go through a series of experiments and in each trial let him leave out one of the chemicals , he will soon be made aware of the fact, that the only ingredients necessary to the success of the process are the iodides and bromides together with some organic matter to form a vehicle for the solution.”
Of course Long is absolutely right in his statement but he must of known that Fentons’ own method of preparing the Iodizer included Iodide of potassium ,bromide , cyanide, fluoride, chloride of sodium , sugar of milk , honey, and albumen oh and free Iodine ! In rice water !! Ten ingredients . This was a bad move.
Long had experimented with Cadmium Iodide and Bromide and it was this chemical that he proposed as an improvement. I have no intention of testing this as in the Modern world it is regarded as a deadly Carcinogen . I can only take Long at his word. Which is more than his audience did. His improvements never caught on and during the questions and answers after his presentation he was given quite a torrid time by his peers. Particularly in his method of producing the positive print in which a proposed using barium chloride to coat the paper and also lemon juice in place of acetic acid in the sensitizer. In all likely hood he was ahead of his time and Fenton in particular gave him a hard time. My intuition is that the Establishment regarded Long as an upstart , may be they didn’t like his new ideas or may be it was a matter of class, or may be it was because he was regarded as a chemist not an artist.
I suppose that Long must have been a robust fellow , because inspite of having handled so many potent chemicals he was still alive in 1897 aged 69 a ripe old age for the time.
In the Journal the next article is about the new Dry Collodion process by Dr Hill Norris , this was the future and Long saw this straight away and wanted to be part of it.
After his speech to the photographic society I can find no mention of Long and the Calotype .process . As an inventor and a chemist you can see the attraction of a new improvement to the Photographic science plus he was clearly out to make a name for himself and his ideas for the Calotype had clearly been rejected.
Long set about conducting his own experiments in Dry Collodion and the first mention of this is in Photographic notes of July 15 1857 , when Thomas Sutton writes that
“ Mr Long has just sent us a magnificent negative , by a new Dry Collodion Process which he has perfected and is about to publish shortly in a pamphlet. This negative is brilliantly sharp , and possesses every gradation of tone beween absolute transparency and intense opacity. Nothing could be more satisfactory. We are impatient to learn the details of the process . “
Long duly obliged and a slim 31 page manual was sold at the cost of one shilling and one pence. The Preface was written in June 1857 so the manual must have taken a while to appear on the book shelves. The advantage of dry collodion over its wet plate relation was its keeping properties. Wet plate has to be exposed within 15 minutes after sensitization, with dry collodion it would keep up to a month. The down side was a loss in sensitivity. Once again Cadmium was the key component in its chemistry. The manual is well written with easily understood instructions. It also has very clear diagrams.
I will detail the preface in full because it proved to be controversial and ultimately his undoing.
“The following pages shall be devoted to the description of a dry Collodion process , which I believe to be at once simple and effective. The experiments connected with the perfection of this process have occupied my leisure time for the space of two years or more, and have been conducted with all the care of which I can master. The constant repetition of them enable me to say, that whoever will follow diligently the process step by step, as detailed in this pamphlet must succeed in producing pictures in every was such as could be required by the most exacting critic.
The process is simple , clean and expeditious: and the resulting Negatives posses the exquisite softness of Albumen , the brilliancy of the wet Collodion , and the fine artistic texture of the paper process. .
To disarm criticism and to make peace with my fellow labourers in our art , I wish it to be understood that I do not claim the use of Collodion , of Gelatine , of Metagelatine or any of the Chemicals used in the process , most of these have been employed by others in various ways : I merely reserve myself the pleasure of placing in the hands of Photographers a definite and simple plan by which pictures may be taken on Dry Collodion “,
June 20, 1857.
(Metagelatine is gelatine modified by heat)
In the September 21st edition of the Journal of the photographic society Longs process was praised for its reliability and longevity by G R Smith “In common with every photographer , I have longed for the day when Collodion in the dry form , easy of preparation could be employed in the field “ and that he “Found with much satisfaction that Mr Long , of Fleet Street , had discovered a process at once simple of preparation , and certain of working “.
He had been on a photographic tour and to his delight he “found all that Mr Long had said , in favour of his process , fully realized. Picture after picture (22) came out with great beauty and , so far as the process is concerned , I have had not had a single failure “
When com pared to the Calotype or Wet Plate process this must have seemed miraculous.
He found “that the development may be deferred for at least three weeks after exposure , and my candid belief is , that the plates may be kept for months without deterioration “
In October 21st 1857, Robert Hunt wrote in praising Longs process and the fact that he been able to use plates 42 days after they had been sensitized and even though they were exposed in unfavourable conditions they had given excellent results. He felt “ Convinced that the traveller might with perfect safety use plates which have been prepared for a month , and thus relive himself from much labour and frequent annoyance by the use of Mr Long’s process “
What we take for granted today was starting to evolve .
In Novembers edition of Photographic notes Thomas Sutton compared the virtues of the process of Dr Hill Norris and Long’s process. Both were simple in their preparation the differences being “
“ Dr Norris applies to the washed sensitive film a warm solution of geletine and alcohol. Mr Long applies a cold solution of gelatine and citric acid to a film only partially washed. Dr Norris dries the plate before a fire. Mr Long allows it to dry spontaneously. Both wash the plate in the same way before development : and develop - Mr Long with gallo-nitrate - DR Norris , either with galo-nitrate, or pyro-gallo-nitrate. The concluding operations are the same.
Both processes were considerably simpler than other processes circulating at the time.
However a review of Longs pamphlet in the July edition of the Journal of the photographic society says “As far as the chemical part of the process described in this book goes , there is very little originality shown , it being a detailed account of Maxwell Lyte’s metagelatine process , slightly modified from the original communication “
This overlooks the fact that Long had been experimenting with Cadmium and citric acid in the paper process , although whether he had been working on a dry collodion process for two years is in doubt when you consider that in his 1856 presentation he stated that he had devoted “considerable time spent in experimenting on the various photographic processes on paper “ Or maybe he had and this was a Talbot situation with Dr Hill Norris beating him to the punch.
In Octobers edition of the Journal of the photographic society alongside Hunts praising letter , is a communication from W Adrian Delferier , stating that he shared his formula for metagelatine with Long. And that Long had plagiarised it . He also referred to Longs “very ingenious preface” .
He continues with “ I wish it clearly to be understood that I do not claim the discovery of preserving sensitive collodion plates , as we are indebted for that to Dr Hill Norris : but in justice to myself and brother amateurs . I do hope that , in future , should any of our little improvements be considered worthy of publication , the credit will not be so appropriated by others as to mislead such well-intentioned photographers as Mr G.R.Smith “
And in the December edition
North-London Photographic Association. With G Shadbolt in the chair ( George Shadbolt was one of the founder members of the London photographic society) .
At a meeting held at Myddeleton Hall , Islington , Nov 25 1857.
“The rev John Walker read a paper on the dry Collodion process and exhibited some specimens.
The Rev John Winter read a paper on the dry collodion process, and exhibited some specimens.
A vote of thanks was passed to the Rev John Winter for his paper.
A long and animated discussion ensued. Mr Judge in the absence of Mr Barnes , explained and practically demonstrated Mr Barnes’s Dry Collodion process.
The chairman, in proposing a vote of thanks to Mr Judge (which was unanimously agreed to) said he would take the opportunity of expressing his regret that Mr C Long had omitted the very necessary ceremony of acknowledging Dr Hill Norris as the originator of the dry Collodion process as published in Mr Long’s book, to say nothing of the absence of any mention of Mr Barnes (who was certainly the first to exhibit any presentable pictures from a negative on dry Collodion) , or any other gentlemen of whose ideas Mr Long had made a good use , exclusively of his want of recognition “
This was a damning criticism and the final nail . Longs reputation was in tatters and from this point he no longer contributes to any photographic journals or research.
Finally in the London Gazette, September 17 1858 it was announced that the partnership of Bland and Long “was on the 4th day of September instant , dissolved by mutual consent . All debts due and owing to or by the late firm will be received and paid by the said William Russell Bland , by whom in the future the business will be carried on , under the style of Bland and Co. - As witness our hands this 16th day of September 1858”
Ironically this was the summer of London’s Great stink , when the Thames became virtually an open sewer and Parliament had to be convened to find a solution. Fleet street with its close proximity to the Thames and with the river Fleet running underneath it would have been in the thick of it. There was also a Cholera out break caused by water contaminated by sewage.
Where Long went or what he did is a mystery . Could he have joined the armed forces ? Gone abroad ? Bad health ? Changed profession ? Family matters ? He resurfaces in 1881 as an electrician. But appears to have been missing from the 1860s and 1870s censuses. If only he had stuck to the Calotype !
To be continued ….