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A hand processed photograph

An interesting print technique

The photograph of West Blatchington Windmill was taken by my father, H. G. Martlew, ARPS in about 1928; the view is looking south to what is now Holmes Avenue. To the modern eye, the texture looks somewhat woolly and indistinct. This is due to the photographic process called ‘bromoil’. This process was very popular in the early 1900s and combines the skills of photography, printing and painting.  While the photograph is taken in a conventional manner, the print technique uses the principle that oil is repelled by water. Each print will be slightly different according to the individual’s artistic technique and style. The clouds that can be seen behind the mill were non-existent in reality and were produced with a brush and my father’s artistic talent! 

Thornton Pickard Half Plate 

My father was not a professional photographer; it was his hobby, which he pursued with joy and enthusiasm. His camera was a Thornton Pickard half plate, which by today’s standards was very large and cumbersome piece of equipment. My lasting memories are of my father with his right shoulder drooped down by the weight of his beloved Thornton Pickard camera.

The James Gray collection

After my father’s death I was looking through his photographic collection, and came across this image. Knowing of Mr James Gray’s interest in local scenes, I contacted him and explained about the photograph. He was very interested and quickly came round to my house for a copy. His copy can probably now been seen in the fantastic Regency Society collection of Mr Gray’s photographs.  Another copy can be seen hanging in West Blatchington Windmill, as a reminder of days gone by.

West Blatchington Windmill c.1928
Photo by, H. G. Martlew

Comments about this page

  • How lovely. John Constable painted the mill in 1825, and their appears to be little change in the intervening 103 years. However, the scene has altered completely since 1928. Being the romantic that I am, I think it’s quite poignant – but at least it’s still standing as a reminder of times past!

    By Janet Beal (23/07/2013)

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