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Making a Civil War Tintype Photo using Civil War era equipment and processes

4/28/2013 ISO 1200 Magazine 1 Comments

World renowned photographer Rob Gibson is a master of the photographic process used during the American Civil War. He and his work have appeared in numerous television productions and motion pictures. His demonstrations have been featured at the Smithsonian and The White House Press Corps.

Rob Smiling Camera 16AUG09.JPG
Rob Gibson  |  © Kent Courtney   All rights reserved.
Rob Gibson's reasearch and pioneering work in the revival of the wet plate technique lead to a renewal of interest in Civil War era photography. His work has appeared in many movies and documentaries. Many of his subjects are famous, such as Bob Dylan and Roger Daltry.

Rob Gibson Photo Samples
Hollywood Actors & Actresses | © Kent Courtney All rights reserved.
Gibson's Photographic Gallery
© Kent Courtney All rights reserved.

This video follows photographer Rob Gibson through the steps of creating a tintype photo, using Civil War era equipment and processes.


Gibson's Photographic Gallery
Gibson's Photographic Gallery in Gettysburg, PA | © Kent Courtney  All rights reserved.

Rob Gibson and his wife, Dee, invite you to sit under the studio skylight and have your tintype or glass plate photograph made with the same process used during the 1860s.

Chair in Rob Gibson's Studio
Natural Light | © Kent Courtney  All rights reserved.
Even their cameras date back to the Civil War. The Gibson Photographic Gallery has a collection of lenses, actually from the 1800's, that have been used to photograph many people during that time period.


Gibson's Photographic Gallery
Rob Gibson's original Anthony camera with Dallmeyer portrait lense. It originally cost $540 in the 1860s.
Victorian Lense Collection
Lenses | © Kent Courtney All rights reserved.

The camera lens he uses is authentic, belonging previously to a Civil War photographer named Walzl and may well have photographed Jefferson Davis, John Mosby, and the Confederate capital. Gibson's methods are authentic and true to the art as well.

"We try to make the entire process as authentic as possible... we are sticklers for authenticity."saids Gibson
RJGibson camera Collection.jpg
RJGibson camera Collection | © Kent Courtney All rights reserved.


 RJGibson´s website:

Video: Rob Shenk | Images Flickr: Kent Courtney | Text:

**Copyright laws apply to all Gibson and Kent Courtney images**


Awesome site and loved the video of making the tintype, having worked in a professional darkroom for over a decade, I enjoyed it. Seeing how it was done way back when.

One question, do you worry about exposure to the chemicals an vapors on your health?