EPS Wednesday Meetings - Overview


A home for the EPS

It was in 1892 that Edinburgh Photographic Society acquired its premises at 38 Castle Street.

In his 1896 Presidential Address, Frank P Moffat has some encouraging words concerning membership.

"Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a wonderful 10s 6d worth. … The membership is close to 400.  This is very satisfactory, but we must nor rest on our oars.  I hope next year something over 500.  I do not see any reason why, in a town like Edinburgh, we should not have 1,000 members, but let us be modest and aim at 500 next year, the 1,000 will come by-and-by."

Photographic Materials

Some subjects from earlier decades were still being discussed:

-  Plates - Rapid or Instantaneous

-  Plates - Slow or Medium

Fewer lectures were given on the chemistry and techniques of development, but printing was a topical subject, with debate in the late 1890s on:

-   The Comparative Advantages of Enlargements and Direct Photographs.

Photographers had a wide choice of materials for their printing:

-   Carbon

-    Platinum


-   Printing Out Paper 

There were also several evenings devoted to colour printing from the mid 1890s onwards.

The hand camera

Photography was becoming more accessible to the general public, with the coming of the hand camera.  Not all photographers approved of this development.  In his Presidential Address of 1897, James Patrick commented:

"Only a few months ago, while spending a holiday in St Andrews, I saw glaring instances of abuse of the hand camera and instantaneous photography.  Dozens of hand cameras were pointed within a few feet of old Tom Morris (the father of golf) and it mattered not how the light was shining, the button was pressed.  This sort of thing can only be beneficial to the plate-makers, and on seeing so much waste going on, I could not help remarking, “It’s an ill wind that blaws naebody guid.”

An 1890 lecture

Hugh Brebner, gave an account of some of his experiences in the darkroom, with an explanation of the chemistry involved.  The lecture was given in 1890, entitled:

-   Abundance of Detail with Extreme Under-Exposure

The style of lecture was not one that we hear now at the EPS.  Mr Brebner began:

“Fain, without prefatory remark of any kind, would I plunge at once into my subject, but that a cruel fate forbids.  Fain alternatively would I cut my preface short, but stern necessity has otherwise decreed.”


Lectures on equipment demonstrate changing trends, with discussions on lenses in the early 1990s, and on hand cameras from 1894 onwards.  Lectures on lenses dealt with:

-   Dalmeyer’s Tele-photographic Lens

-   “Zeiss” Anastigmatic Lenses - their History and Application

-   Long Focus and Telephoto Lenses

Only one evening in the 1890s was devoted to microphotography, compared to several evenings in the 1880s.  But there was an increasing interest in astronomical photography including

-  1892:  Telescopic Photography

[A Mann]

-  1895   Telescopes and Astronomical Photography

[William Forgan]

-  1899   A Night at the City Observatory - Calton Hill

[A Mann]

 Another subject which appeared to be making a comeback in the 1890s, following an absence of 20 years was stereoscopy - with Andrew H Baird giving lectures in the late 1890s:

-  The Lothian Stereoscope

-  Notes on Stereoscopic Photography


Light, in its various forms, was discussed on several evenings.  In 1894, A H Baird gave a lecture: Flash-Light Photography in which he described four methods of producing the magnesium flash for flash-light photography:

-  The gun cotton method

-  The pyrotechnic mixture method

-  The puffing through the flame method

-  The continuous blast method.

He demonstrated the last of these methods.  He also described how, to determine the angle embraced by the camera, he placed his head under the focusing cloth and motioned for a friend with a candle to move in each direction until the candle disappeared off the screen.

In 1897, G G Cunningham read a Paper:

-  A Novelty in Indoor Photography

In this he explained his method of indoor photography using double exposures, the first photo being taken in the evening after dark and the second in the early morning soon after dark.  In this way, he was able to include both indoor details and the view through the window without halation.

Electricity and Gas

In 1895, a meeting was held under the auspices of the Society at Messrs Smith & Co’s Wareroom, No 89 George Street.  A Paper was read and demonstration given of The Electric Light by A G Adamson, patentee of an incandescent electric light.

Later the same year, William Penman presented his Paper:

The Oxyhydrogen Incandescent Gas Light

He explained how he had adapted the Welsbach lamp.  It was not so bright as the limelight, but:

"it produced a light without the smoke or smell of his previous paraffin oil optical furnaces, and with a minimum of heat.  It avoided the hissing and the small innocent explosions associated with the limelight."

Mr Penman claimed that his light was suitable for showing slides to a small audience and for photo enlargements.  He had experimented by adding oxygen - creating an explosive mixture in his early experiments - and succeeding later in increasing the power of his light from 47 candles to 71 candles.

Early Nature Photography

Portraiture and Nature featured only occasionally in the Syllabus, though Charles Reid of Wishaw presented:

-  1890:  Animal and Bird Studies  

-  1896:   Animal Photography

The Edinburgh Photographic Society’s Transactions give an account of the second of these lectures. 

"There were views of nearly every bird, beast and creepy thing.  There was a  view of wild cattle, in whose immediate vicinity we would not care to be, and felt very thankful that it was merely a photo.  And there was a very rare sight, nowadays of oxen ploughing. One naturally associates use of oxen  with the East, but it was surprising to find that until recently they were still in use as beasts of burden in Scotland."


Photography and Art continued to be discussed, but an increasing proportion of lectures showed Travel Photography  - including America, Japan, Papua, Europe, and Scotland . Buckhaven in Fife was the subject the 1895 lecture:

-   A village by the sea

The photos were taken with a hand camera, and the subject attracted

"a much larger number of ladies than usually patronise the Society’s meetings  -   a source of gratification."


EPS Wednesday Meetings - Index