Lecture to Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1 October 1919

Edinburgh Photographic Society

Past, Present and Future

Patrick Turner Mackintosh

P T Mackintosh

President of EPS

Between 1914 and 1935, Patrick Turner Mackintosh delivered eight lectures to Wednesday Evening Meetings at EPS.  Three of these, in October 1918, 1919 and 1920 were President's Opening Addresses.

The subject he chose in 1919 was: The Edinburgh Photographic Society:  Past, Present and Future.


P T Mackintosh began by looking back on the early years of EPS, and of the PSS before it.  He referred to:

-  Sir David Brewster and his opening address to the PSS on 8 May 1856, in which he referred to the two current problems in photography:

-  the want of colour in photographs

-  the fading and occasional disappearance of photographs.

-  The establishment of EPS on 20 February 1861, offering less technical and more social meetings than PSS

-  Sir James Marwick, the first President of EPS, who was Town Clerk of Edinburgh and later became Town Clerk of Glasgow.

-  Mungo Ponton who made early researches into chromo compounds

-  C G H Kinnear who invented the taper bellows now (in 1919) universally used.

-  J G Tunny, a watchmaker before becoming a photographer.

-  Dr Piazzi Smyth who photographed the Pyramids on microscopic slides.

-  D T K Drummond who travelled the country carrying a large tent in which he prepared his plates and developed his negatives. 

Wet Plate and Dry Plate

P T Mackintosh explained that dry plates were introduced in the late 1860s, but at first was so slow that many photographers preferred to continue using wet plates.  He added:

"The only advantage of the slow plate, so far as I am aware, was that if our friend the photographer was taking what the poets call a sylvan glen, he might expose the plate, pose himself in the centre of the subject, and after an interval of fifteen minutes or half an hour, return to his camera and replace the cap."

Early Landscape Photography

P T Mackintosh commented on the difficulties of early landscape photography:

"Behold now our photographer setting forth on his travels.  In his left hand, he carried an immense camera with an inflexible stand, and in his right a large carpet bag containing his glass plates in racks, his various chemicals and other paraphernalia.

Slung over his shoulder might be a carboy of distilled water, and, if the supply was likely to run out he might add to his impedimenta, a still and worm, which, if occasion served, might possibly be applied to other purposes detrimental to the revenue of the Crown.   If, like Mr Drummond, he carried his tent with him, that, I suppose was fastened around his neck."

The Future

Looking to the future, P T Mackintosh said:

"Many possibilities lie before photography, the development for example of colour photography, photo-sculpture, astronomical photography, photo-telegraphy, X-ray photography and under-sea photography.

Men nowadays do not grow old at fifty-nine and there seems no reason in this world why a Society which has attained that age should exhibit any signs of senile decay.

He looked forward with confidence to the day when the Society would have

"an active and enthusiastic membership running into thousands, ... with funds to move into premises worthy of the Society, equipped with spacious lecture hall, library and smoke-room, affording adequate wall space for the noble collection of photographs now perforce stored in our lumber rooms, and providing every worker with adequate dark rooms, oceans of hypo, and the latest developing, printing and enlarging apparatus.



All quotes above are from P T Mackintosh's 1919 lecture to EPS.  See Transactions of EPS  Nov 1919, pp.4-10.


Patrick Turner Mackintosh
Lectures to EPS
The Future of Photography  -  Lecture 1918
EPS: Past, Present and Future  -  Lecture 1919