On Tintypes

If you don’t know what a tintype picture is, think of those olde-time-y pictures of outlaws like Billy the Kid. Unless you’re thinking of a modern movie still, you’re thinking of something that looks like a tintype.

I think I first fell in love with the modern way of making “old” pictures when I saw the work of Chuck Close.

Of course, fancy artists who use the actual equipment you need to create a real tintype image is one thing; doing it myself is something else. For a time, I was pleased to be able to work with a Tintype app. It creates images that looks like these:

Then I read about Luminar, the photo-editing software, and how they also have a set of tintype-style filters. From that, I get more control, and photos like this:

There’s a paper to be written on why, At This Point in Our History, we are reverting to older technologies. Historians can ponder on how – and if – we can learn anything from the present when we are making our photos – and our videos – looks so much like we’re in the past. There’s an app that makes video look like Super 8 stock. Why, when we now have pristine, crystal-clear moving images that can be created right in our hands, do we want something that looks so bad?

I suspect we’re back to our old friend: nostalgia. But that isn’t my point here.

To me, I just love the look of the thing. And knowing why we love something is hard. And sometimes it’s beside the point.

Sometimes it’s enough to just find something that gives us pleasure and to work with that.

My Xmas present to myself will be to have a proper tintype photo taken with my wife. There’s a place in Austin that does it, because of course there is.

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