View Full Version : OT - Tin Type Photos

04-14-2010, 11:30 AM
Metalworking Connection: I'm claiming "tin"...

Background: I know nothing about photography. If I can't "point 'n shoot", then the pic doesn't get taken.

Issue: I have some family tin types that I'd like to "print out" and frame without loss of resolution. How would one go about it? Is it anything more than scanning the picture or taking a photo of the photo?

Many thanks in advance.


04-14-2010, 12:17 PM
your not going to get much out of them unless they are re-photographed.....and that will be tricky because of the contrast......

Jack F
04-14-2010, 12:29 PM
My guess is use a digital camera without flash using the highest resolution. Next would be scan it but I'm not sure how much the bright light might degrade it. If you or someone you know has Photoshop you can drop the file into PS and alter the attributes to suit your tastes. If you don't have access to PS Email me the digital file and I can work on it for you.

Let us know how it works out.


04-14-2010, 01:23 PM
Tintypes are not degraded by light and are one of the most durable photographic methods in existence. They should be photographed with very even side lighting from a constant source of light, sunlight is excellent.

04-14-2010, 02:19 PM
Many thanks to all who replied.

Jack - I just might take you up on your offer.

Again, thank you.

Jack F
04-14-2010, 04:10 PM

Thanks for the info.

Hupp31, any time.:cool:


04-14-2010, 05:07 PM
One note: Some tintypes were hand coloured by brushing them with very thin paints. They should be handled very carefully as the paint may not be well adhered. It usually isn't suceptible to fading as most paints of the time were lead based. As with the craftsmen that painted radium watch dials and died early from cancer the tintype painters also pointed their brushes by licking them and suffered lead poisoning. Reprographics was my job for 23 years and I have a strong interest in all the ways to make marks on materials which is what the field of reprographics is about.

As for the longevity, this one is 154 years old. Makes you wonder just how much of the current photographic record will survive. It is one reason that I like to do engraving.


This is a CNC engraving of my Beardog. It will last even longer than a tintype and if it isn't lost will still be around hundreds of years from now.


This is a side by side comparison of the original print to the engraving.


Jack F
04-15-2010, 11:44 AM
Evan, that engraving is great. What program do you use to turn a photo into a engraving? I used PS to turn a photo into a line drawing and gave that file to a trophy store where they made an engraving. Your program goes a few steps further. If your answer is long and involved you may wish to PM me.;)


04-15-2010, 11:55 AM
The software is free from here:


The software to do this is at the bottom of the page. The results depend not so much on the software but on the choice of material, the type and shape of the cutter and of course on the resolution that you choose. High resolution can take many hours to engrave a single image.

Jack F
04-15-2010, 12:37 PM
Thanks Evan.