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Tent - Dictionary entry
Published in "A Dictionary of Photography" edited by Thomas Sutton and George Dawson (London: Sampson Low, Son, & Marston, 1867), p.351-352.
Tent. When views are taken by the wet collodion process, in which the free nitrate of silver is not removed from the plate by washing, it becomes necessary to operate either in a dark room, or van, or tent, at or near the spot whence the view was taken; for otherwise the latent image is destroyed by the evaporation of the moisture from the sensitive plate, and by the consequent solution of the iodide of silver by the concentrated nitrate in the film.
The dark tent used by travelling photographers is of various forms and sizes, and more or less portable. For large pictures 12 x 10 or so, perhaps the best form is that of the ordinary military tent, having a pole at each end and fastened to the ground with ropes and pegs. It should be made with black calico, lined with yellow. In one of the gable ends there should be a yellow window, and the entrance should be in the opposite gable. Inside there may be a table and all the necessary conveniences. This kind of tent has of course no pretensions to portability, and a travelling van is preferable, since much time is necessarily occupied in erecting and taking down a tent of this form.
For stereoscopic pictures, or pictures not exceeding 8 x 6, a much simpler and more portable form of tent will answer the purpose. A deal tray about 2ft. 6in. Long, 1ft. 9in. Wide, and 4 ins. Deep is screwed upon a short tripod stand. At the corners the four uprights of a light iron frame are inserted, which is made thus :
the rods being about the thickness of stair rods.
A covering made of black calico lined with yellow is thrown over this frame, and hangs down to the knees. In this covermg at the back is a yellow window nearly the whole height of the iron rods and about 6 inches wide; the yellow curtain of this window or aperture may be drawn backwards and forwards at pleasure. The tray has a shelf at the back which carries the bottles, etc.
To use this tent the operator stands beneath the projecting part of the top of it, with the tray in front of him, and draws the lower part of the curtains tightly round him under his elbows, and fastens them by means of hooks to the inside of the front part of the tray, so as to exclude day-light. He has then his hands at liberty, and manipulates in the usual way. By putting a tent of this kind, together with the chemicals and apparatus, upon a wheelbarrow, or suitable truck, or basket with wheels which ship and unship, the photographic tourist becomes independent of help from others.