Asanuma with Dallmeyer

I couldn’t think of a better title for a very pretty half plate camera. Made in 1905 it is the lightest large format camera I own

I Dream of taking this camera to Japan to retake the images in an old album I found. I have posted the pages of the album, all half plate collodion hand coloured prints in the two previous blog posts A Calm Tension of Light and The Tokaido Road

I can dream.

A Calm Tension Of Light

Japanese lady in formal dress 19th century collodion photograph-5

My post yesterday on this blog showed part of an album of 25 Japanese collodion prints. They are places and landscapes of Japan in the 19th century.

The other side of the album has 25 portraits of Japanese ladies and girls.

These albums were usually printed and hand coloured for visitors to Japan as souvenirs. I have quickly copied these photographs to share here. I find them fascinating. The exposures were all for a second or more, and are carefully posed and structured. My guess is that a lot of the “models” are friends, family and servants of the photographer.

I hope to do research to find and “guess” at a little more of who they are and where these photos came from. I deliberately said “are” as they live in these photos.

Here is a gallery of the portraits, click each one to see a larger image.

The Tokaido Road

Collodion hand coloured print of Japan in the 19th century

The Tokaido road, Japan circa 1890 – Hand colored collodion print , from album of 50 photos – 18

I have a dream – to travel to Japan and visit each of the places where an album of collodion photographs were taken and to take photographs of each scene. I have an original, Asanuma, Japanese half plate camera of the period over 120 years ago.

My dream is to go to Japan, research where these photos were taken and to take a photo, using the same wet plate collodion technique of the place as it is now. Then to print the photos on hand made collodion paper. Hand colouring is beyond my experience (at the moment)

The album is 50 pages with original half plate photographs which were probably sold to a European visiting Japan in the late 19th century. Like a concertina, 25 images are, on one side, of landscapes and street photos and 25 on the other side of local well dressed ladies and girls. I have a small collection of what are called “Geisha Photos” and I do not think any of the photos are of Geisha, one I think may be the wife of the photographer.

A lot of research is needed to identify the places but a few have writing on, in English, which makes me suspect some were for foreign visitors.

Here is a gallery of the photos in the album, click on each image to see a larger picture.