Alfred Seaman and the PCUK

The Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom through the stereoscopic camera of a Derbyshire photographer

A History of the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom by Mr Thomas Bedding, printed in the British Journal of Photography March 1899.

In connexion with the Convention Mr. Thomas Bedding by the consent of the Council, has compiled a short history of that institution. It is here given in the belief that it will not only interest members and others, but be instrumental in attracting renewed support to the Convention which, it will be observed from the appended details of its career, has filled a very useful part in photography during the thirteen years of its existence:

The Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom was founded in the summer of 1886. Its object was to afford facilities to photographers, professional and amateur, for an annual gathering at some suitable town, previously agreed on, for the purpose of hearing and discussing papers of photographic interest; of holding exhibitions, excursions, a dinner, and other social gatherings. Conventions carried out on this model have for many years been popular amongst photographers of the United States.

The founders of the Convention, the late Mr. J. Trail Taylor and Mr. J. J. Briginshaw, became its first Chairman and Hon Secretary respectively.

Derby meeting 1886.

The first meeting of the Convention was held at Derby in August1886. The Mayor officially welcomed the members. Haddon Hall, Chatsworth, Dovedale, and Matlock were among the places visited on the excursions. The Convention lasted three days, the attendance was forty-six. An exhibition of apparatus was held. The following is a list of the principal papers read:" Success", HP Robinson;  "Focussing Sailing Ships and other Moving Objects," J. Traill Taylor ; ''Instantaneous Photography," William Cook ; Emulsion-making," W. K. Burton; "Daylight Enlarging," Andrew Pringle; "Gelatine Emulsion," A L Henderson.

An Executive Committee was appointed by the members present.

Glasgow meeting 1887.

The Convention was officially welcomed to Glasgow by Bailie Crawford. on behalf of the Lord Provost and the municipality. The pictorial display at the Fine Arts' Institute, where the meetings were held, was  pronounced "more attractive than that of the Pall Mall Exhibition" The exhibition of apparatus was also large and interesting. During the week excursions were made to the Falls of Clyde, the Trossacks and Loch Katrine, Loch Lomond and Loch Long, Largs &c. The dinner was attended by fifty members; the total attendance was about 200. A group of the members was taken at Tarbert.

Among the many papers read the following may be noted: " Finders and Focussers," Lyonel Clark, C.E. ; " Elementary Photo-micrography," Andrew Pringle ; "Home Portraiture, " T. N. Armstrong ; "Orthochro-matic Photography," C. H. Bothamley "Film Photography," S. G. B. Wollaston ; "The Silver Photo-salt" W. Lang ; and "Pretended Photography in Natural Colours." It is interesting to note that Messrs, Pringle and Bothamley at this meeting of the Convention first dealt with the subject upon which they have since become accepted authorities.

Birmingham meeting 1888.

The Convention was received by the Mayor at the Masonic Hall, New street. Addresses at the opening meeting were given by Mr. W. Jerome Harrison (Chairman of the evening), Mr, Traill Taylor (Chairman of the Council), and Dr. Hill Norris. The excursions during the week were to Arley and Bardley- on -Severn, Stratford, Oxford, Kenilworth, Coventry, Warwick, Worcester, Malvern, and Dudley.

The dinner and exhibition were very successful. As evidence of the scientific spirit that animates the Convention, it is interesting to note that at the Birmingham meeting it was resolved, "That it was desirable to have a uniform standard of screws in connexion with camera fittings," and a Committee of five was appointed to consider the adoption of the system of standard lens fittings recommended by the Photographic Society, or to suggest alterations of the system, and to take or indicate such steps as might be necessary for its effective establishment.

Unusual interest attached to the papers read: "Orthochromatic Photography " being treated by Mr. Bothamley and Mr. B. J, Edwards; "Flashlight Work," "Printing-out Platinotype," and "Photo-lithography" being also discussed. The eminent astronomer, the late Rev. S. J. Perry, F.R.S., addressed the members on the applications of photography to astronomy.

London meeting 1889.

A President of the Convention first appears at its head in the person of Mr. Andrew Pringle, F.R.M.S, who was chosen for the position at the Birmingham meeting. The meetings were held at St James's Hall, and the custom of delivering a Presidential address was instituted.

During the week there were excursions to the following places: Windsor, Kew, Hampton, and Gravesend. A dinner was held at the Cafe Royal, and a group of the members was taken at Burlington House.

Mr. Bothamley again addressed the members on the subject of Ortho-chromatism, and among the other papers were:  "The False Rendering of Photographic Images by the Misapplication of Lenses," T. E. Dallmeyer and "Photo-Mechanical Printing," Thomas Bolas. A report was presented by the Standards Committee, appointed the previous year to consider and report upon the best means of securing uniformity in diaphragms and flanges of lenses and lens mounts. Several recommendations were made by the Committee.

Chester meeting 1890.

The President was Mr. C. H. Bothamley, F.I.C., F.C.S., and the Mayor of Chester welcomed the Convention, in whose honour his Worship held a Conversazione at the Town Hall. The Exhibition of apparatus attracted many novelties. During the week there were excursions to Moreton Old Hall, Llangollen, Conway, Bettws-y-Coed, Hawarden Castle, &c.

" Lens Standards," by Mr. A. Haddon ; "Photo-micrography," by Mr. Pringle; "Animal Photography," by Mr. Gambier Bolton, were among the subjects dealt with at the evening meetings, at one of which Mr. Friese-Greene read a paper, in the course of which he described "a camera which had been constructed for taking photographs by merely turning a handle, which made a series of negatives on a band of sensitive material at the rate of 600 a minute." This is of historical interest in view of the great development in animated photography that has since taken place, and singles out the Convention as the scene of the first mention of one of the most notable of modern photographic achievements.

Bath meeting 1891.

The late William Bedford occupied the Presidential chair and the Mayor received the members in the Guildhall. Salisbury, Clifton, Bristol, Glastonbury and wells were visited during the week.

At this meeting Mr FP Cembrano Jnr who subsequently became President of the Convention was appointed Hon Secretary in place of Mr JJ Briginshaw whose business obliged him to resign. At the meeting recent developments in printing processes described in detail by Mr. Bothamley ; the cult of indistinctness was criticised by Mr. W. E. Debenham, and Mr. L. Warnerke read a paper on a series of proposed International Standards.

Edinburgh meeting 1892.

Presided over by Mr. George Davison, the Edinburgh meeting of the Convention was officially welcomed by the Lord Provost of the City. The papers read by Mr H. P. Robinson and Mr. Arthur Burchett treated of the pictorial side of photography; Mrs. C. Weed Ward, Mr. Howard Farmer, Dr. C. L. Mitchell, and Mr. F. M. Sutcliffe also read papers. Among the interesting places visited on the excursions were- Melrose and Dryburgh, Newhaven, St. Andrew's, Cramond Bridge, &c.

Plymouth meeting 1893.

Again was the Convention the recipient of a compliment at the hands of the municipality, the Mayor of Plymouth welcoming the members at a reception in the Atheaneum. Mr. George Mason, of Glasgow, was the President of the year. Excursions were made to Tavistock, to Mount Edgcumbe Park (by kind permission of the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe), Totnes, Dartmouth, &c.

The Mayor of Devonport also received the Convention. The papers submitted were of remarkable interest. The properties of the Zeiss Anastigmatic Lenses were exhaustively described by Dr. Rudolph, of Jena, and Messrs Hurter & Driffield gave an exposition of their system of measuring the speed of plates. The names of W. K. Barton, E. J. Wall, and the Rev. F. C. Lambert appear among the readers of papers.

Dublin meeting 1894.

The eminent optician, Sir Howard Grubb, F.B.S., presided over the meeting, and the Lord Mayor welcomed the members in the Library of the Royal Dublin Society, a Conversazione being subsequently held in the Science and Art Museum building. During the week, very successful excursions were made to Monasterboice, Drogheda, Powerscourt, &c., and the Lord Mayor gave a garden party to the members at his house at Killiney. At this meeting the Convention for the first time was declared to be in a satisfactory financial position, having a credit balance of £50.

Among the readers of papers was Dr. Joly, who first publicly outlined his colour process at the meeting of the Convention. The President's paper was a valuable one on optical matters, and other subjects dealt with were the influences of temperature upon the sensitiveness of dry plates, a Photographic Sextant, Astronomical Photography, and the uses of Photography in Medicine.

This was a most successful gathering, and the membership reached a total of 270.

Mr. E,. P. Drage became Hon. Secretary of the Convention at the close of this meeting.

Shrewsbury Meeting 1895

The Tenth Meeting of the Convention, was presided over by Mr. A. Haddon, and the Mayor received the members in the Guildhall. During the week the Convention was entertained by Mr. H D. Greene, Q.C., M.P., Member for the Borough, and the principal excursions were to Bridgenorth, Stokesay, Church Stretton, Ludlow, Buildwas, and Wenlock Abbeys.

Mr. Cembrano, the late Hon. Secretary, was presented with a hand camera in recognition of his services. The hearty hospitality of its Shropshire hosts and the beauty of the scenery on the excursions were highly appreciated by the members of the Convention. The group contained 130 portraits of members, many of them ladies. Colour photography formed the subject of papers by Mr. E. J. Wall and Mr Child Bayley. Mr. Alfred Maskell dealt with pictorial photography, the old and the new.

Leeds meeting 1896.

Mr. H. P. Robinson, the doyen of English photographers, occupied the Presidential chair, and he kindly organized a special Exhibition of Pictorial Photography, which was held in the Library of the Museum. An official reception was tendered to the Convention in the City Art Gallery. Bolton Abbey, Fountains Abbey, and York were the principal scenes of the excursions, which were largely attended and were highly sueeessful. The principal paper read was one on "The Fixing and Washing of Prints," by Mr. Haddon. Radiography and Orthochromatism were also treated of.

Great Yarmouth meeting 1897

The President was Mr Cembrano, and the Mayor officially received the Convention. Excursions by water were made to Lowestoft, Norwich, Salthouse Broad and Oulton Broad. The subjects of the papers were "Methods of Control and their influence on the Ultimate Development of Artistic Photography," by Mr. A Horsley Hinton ; " The Points of a Lens," by Mr. Dallmeyer; 'Half-tone," by Mr. Gamble ; "Photography in Natural Colours," by Mr. Wall; and " The Strength of Hypo Solution and Time of Immersion for Fixing Albumenised Paper," by Messrs, Haddon aad Grundy. The latter paper was the outcome of a grant in aid of research voted by the Council.

At this meeting the Dansac-Chassagne process of so-called photography in natural colour, by "selective colour absorption," was publicly demonstrated to members, who had an opportunity of observing that it failed to sustain the claims made on its behalf.

In addition to the usual group, a cinemitographic picture of members was taken by Mr. E. P. Prestwich, and shown at one of the evening meetings.

Mr. Drage having resigned the Hon. Secretaryship of the Convention, Mr. F. A. Bridge was elected to fill the vacancy.

Glasgow meeting 1898

The Convention met for the second time at Glasgow, and was presided over by Mr. John Stuart. The chief excursions were to Ayr, the Forth Bridge and Edinburgh by train, down the Clyde and to Loch Lomond by water. An afternoon reception was given to members in the Municipal Buildings. The Presidential address was a comprehensive one, and, besides photography in natural colours, development, the speed of plates, and the gum-bichromate process were discussed at the evening meetings. The pictorial exhibition was large and interesting, the trade exhibits and local professional photography being noticeably good,

The membership reached a record total of 328.