Welcome To The Nineteenth Century - with Alien Skin
I am not quite so old as to remember the first photographic processes...as being new on the market. I do remember Kodak and Anscochrome films. and once purchased a fresh roll of Kodak Verichrome Pan 616 film but that is about as far back as it goes. I was fortunate to be issued with film in a double dark holder for my first professional job instead of a glass plate and a bottle of liquid gun-cotton.
But the fascination with the early processes still continues. People still want to do ambrotypes, calotypes, tintypes, lithotypes, and daguerreotypes to feel what it must have been like in the early days. Wise students of history will look at some of the chemical lists and workflow procedures for these early processes and wonder if feeling like the early days will involve being poisoned or burned or dead...lots of photographers suffered just that.
I have found a better alternative for myself.
Note, I have done some of the early chemical stuff myself - all to no great artistic effect. None of it was easy, none of it was cheap, and none of it seems to have lasted. Even my efforts to find chemical alternatives to the more disasterous processes was not successful - you can do very little with ex-Czechoslovak traffic camera film.
But on to the better way. I invested some years ago in a plug-in computer program by the Alien Skin people in North Carolina called Exposure 3. It was a B/W conversion and colour simulation program that added onto my Photoshop Elements and gave me a number of early process looks to digital images. I recall there were about 8 different things that it did in monochrome and another couple of of dozen in colour.
Well, they have a new Exposure 4. It is way ahead of even their original program. Leave the Kodachrome A and the Anscochrome and the Lomo film colour alternatives for another discussion. Look intot his program on the net and look at the B/W Vintage section. It is the best simulation of early process I have ever seen.
Each process division seems to have about 6 alternate masks and effects, ranging from soft focus to scratches to vignettes or plate holder intrusions. There are at least 7 processes covered - remembering that there are at least 4 orientations for each image, that is 148 chances to make a modern digital image look as if it came anytime from 1839 to 1910. If you also figure that some of those original processes were reverse images, well you can see the possibilities.
Photographers who wish to really wow their friends might also care to look at the website for the Amazon Pickle Works or Dixie Gun Works. They do modern reproductions of Union cases for daguerreotypes. Of course there is also a good supply of antique-style framing in gift and specialty shops.
Oh, can't forget the Autochrome. The program also does a simulation of Autochrome. Move over M. Lartigue!