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The Last Box

The last box of 18x22 inch large glass plate negatives has been shot. Here is a short timelapse of me finishing them off. I still have the incredible 1.6 metre negative to shoot, but that will be another story.

Holtermann from State Library of New South Wales on Vimeo.

I have spent the last year getting familiar with the Holtermann collection, and my predecessor Lauren even longer. I have lived with the plates and through them journeyed across Victoria and NSW looking at a world, most of which is gone, but which has been captured in exquisite detail. I have been continually astonished by how much information can be coaxed out of the larger negatives due to the almost grainless wet colloidal process. I started the project knowing virtually nothing about Holtermann or the American and Australasian Photographic company. After viewing the work of its photographers Beaufoy Merlin and Charles Bayliss I have finished with upmost respect and even awe for the work they achieved.

This is the last plate I photographed from Box 83. I have included the negative and the positive for comparison, please note the bubbling on the emulsion, where emulsion has come away at the edges, the original retouching work on Holtermann and his companion's eyes and the parts of the sky which have been painted in. The reason the negative is reversed is that it has been photographed emulsion side up.

Negative

 

Positive

 

It is called Holtermann shooting party camp in bush.

I approached Alan Davies and he did some research on the contents of the image, he noted the waratah flowers poking out of the guns. It was the zoom that allowed us to see writing on one of the buggy's. It says "Mackaness North Shore," according to Alan the buggy probably belonged to James Mackaness. Mackaness was a freemason like Holtermann and was on Holtermann's election committee when he stood unsuccessfully for the seat of St Leonard's in 1874.