Ch.1: The Origins of Photography

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PHOT 154, History of Photography, Grossmont College,Before Photography, the sun writing of Niepce, Talbot and the Calotype, Daguerre, Bayard.

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  • 1. The Origins of Photography Can be traced as early as the 5th C. BC in China. It was noted that light reflecting from an illuminated object and passing through a pinhole into a darkened area would form an exact but inverted image of that object. This discovery was the basis for the pinhole - or lensless - camea

2. Camera Obscura (dark room), 1600s 3. Sillouette Machine, 1780 4. Physionotrace, 1786 5. Camera Lucida artist sketching with a camera lucida, 1830 Had a glass prism, held at eye level by a brass rod attached to a portable drawing board. The artist looked into a peephole at the center of the prism and simultaneously saw both the subject and the drawing surface. The idea was to let the pencil be guided by the virtual image and to trace that image onto a sheet of paper attached to the drawing board. 6. Photography = light writing Three things needed to create a photograph: Optical device which can control light. Chemical process that can reproduce the effects of light on a surface. Chemical process that can fix light (the image) permanently. 7. The Optical Device (17th C. drawing of a room sized camera obscura) Camera obscura = a dark room with a small pinhole on one wall through which a beam of light travels, is inverted, and is projected onto an opposing wall. The drawing aid which had the most direct effect on photography. 8. Evolution of the camera obscura, predecessor of the modern camera: 16th century camera obscura 17th century camera obscura 19th century camera obscura 9. Jan Vermeer, Girl Reading a Letter at window, 1857-59 10. Abelardo Morrell, Camera Obscura Image of Home Across the Street in Our Living Room, 1991 11. Abelardo Morrell, Camera Obscura Image of Times Square in Hotel Room, 1997 12. Thomas Wedgwood, Humphry Davy, Wedgwood pottery First known inventors to attempt to record the effects of light using a camera obscura. 13. Johann Schulze Experimented with compounds of silver: mixtures of chalk (calcium carbonate) and nitric acide = silver nitrate. When these substances were mixed together in a bottle and placed in sunlight, the mixture turned deep purple. The experiment was repeated using heat from a flame. Exposure to heat did not produce the same change in these compounds. Schulze discovered that the reaction had been caused by the suns LIGHT rather than heat. His discovery - the action of LIGHT on silver nitrate causes a change. 14. Thomas Wedgwood, Humphry Davy They sensitized paper or leather with silver nitrate, and placed a flat object in contact with the paper. Then, they exposed the paper & object to light. These sun prints were not permanent. Wedgwood couldnt find a way to FIX the image on paper, but his concept was important to the discovery of photography. He wanted to copy images made wih the camera obscura using light & silver, instead of tracing by hand. 15. Joseph Nicephore Niepce The first to obtain a permanent image by photographic means (ie: the reaction of light on a sensitized surface). 16. Niepce, Heliograph on pewter plate, 1826 - a reproduction of an engraving He used Bitumen of Judea (a light sensitive substance), which bleaches and hardens when exposed to light. Light sensitivity stops because the substance hardens. He coated a lithographic print with oil - making it semi- transparent. He placed the semi-transparent print onto a pewter plate coated with Bitumen of Judea. Left the print in the sun for several hours. The exposure to light hardened the bitumen. Unexposed areas could be washed away with a solvent (oil of lavender). Creating a permanent image transfer using light. Place 17. Portrait of Cardinal dAmboise, Heliograph copy on pewter plate by Niepce By copying the engraving using photographic means (sun + light sensitive materials) Niepce showed that it could be possible to print multiple copies. He called his process heliography (Greek: helios = sun; graphos = drawing). 18. Niepce, View from the Window at Gras. 1827 He coated a pewter plate with bitumen. The plate dried to a shiny surface, slightly red in color. He then put the plate inside his camera obscura, and aimed it through an open window at his courtyard. The light forming the image hardened the bitumen in bright areas, and left it soft and soluable in dark areas. After exposing the plate for 8 - 10 hours, he dipped it in a lavendar oil bath which dissolved the bitumen parts that had not been exposed - or exposed very little - to light. THE RESULT WAS A NEGATIVE (REVERSED) IMAGE BUT IT WAS PERMANENT. 19. Niepce, View from the Window at Gras. 1827 The first permanent photograph 20. Niepce, View from the Window at Gras. 1827 The first permanent photograph On permanent view at the Harry Ransom Humanities Reasearch Center, University of Texas at Austin. 21. Niepce, View from the Window at Gras, rephotographed with silver gelatin in the 1950s. 22. Jacques Louis Mande Daguerre 23. Daguerre, landscape with gothic ruins & figures, audience inside the diorama 24. Daguerre experimenting in his workshop. He made changes to the process which made it more practical. Discarded the bitumen and used iodized SILVER as the light sensitive material. Exposure time is decreased to 1 hour. 1834: he discovered that treating the exposed plate with mercury vapor would develop the latent image (the image not yet visible). Exposure time is decreased again to 15-30 mins. 1837: he discovered that dissolving salt in hot water would stop the light sensitive materials from continuing to react. He named the process Daguerreotype. 25. Daguerre, Still Life. 1837. Oldest surviving daguerreotype. 26. The daguerrotype is a highly polished silver surface on a copper plate. 27. A copper sheet plated with silver was given a high polish. The plate was put over a closed box-silver side down. The silver surface was sensitized to light by fumes from iodine. The fumes fused with the silver to create silver iodide (which is light sensitive). The plate was exposed in the camera obscura. The image was developed by mercury vapor. It was washed with sodium chloride (table salt). Rinsed with water. Sometimes gold toning was done to add permanence. 28. Daguerre, Blvd. du Temple. 1839 29. First daguerreotype image of a person 30. Daguerre, View From the Third Floor. 1839 31. Academy of Science & Fine Arts Meeting, Aug. 19,1839 32. William Henry Fox Talbot 33. Talbots camera obscura and drawing 34. Talbot, Botanical Specimen, 1839. Photogenic drawing Made with paper sensitized with a solution of silver chloride (light sensitive salt) and silver nitrate = silver chloride. The process would eventually become known as salt prints, though Talbot referred to them as photogenic drawings. 35. Talbot, Orchid Leaves, 1839 36. Talbots cameras 37. Talbot, Latticed Window, 1835. 38. John Herschel 39. Herschel, Telescope, 1839. Herschel termed his experiments photographic specimens. The word photographic evolved into photography - which Herschel is credited for using. He eventually introduced the terms negative positive and emulsion, all of which are still in use in film photography today. 40. Cyanotype 41. Talbots printing establishment 42. Talbots discovery of the latent image in 1840 After a short exposure, a negative image could be chemically developed out of the sensitized paper (instead of leaving the paper in camera until image became visible). Sir John Herschel wrote, I read your circular this morning giving an account of the calotype. I always felt sure you would perfect your processes till they equaled or surpassed Daguerres, but this is truly magical. Surely you deal with the naughty one. Phrases such as fairy pictures, natural magic, the black art, natures marvels were some of the early descriptions of photography. 43. Hippolyte Bayard, Self Portrait, 1847. 44. Bayard, Lace Glove, photogenic drawing 45. Bayard, 1839. Direct positive. 46. Bayard, In the Garden, 1842. Direct positive. 47. Bayard, Self Portrait as a Drowned Man. 1840. 48. The corpse you see is that of Monsieur Bayard. The Academy, the King, and all those who have seen his pictures admired them, just a you do. This has brought him prestige, but not a penny. The government, which has supported Monsieur Daguerre more than is necessary, declared it could do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the unhappy man drowned himself. He has been at the morgue for several days, and no one has recognized or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, youd better pass along for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay. 49. The approaches to photography made available by 1839 The daguerreotype - a sharp and detailed image, but one-of-a-kind (could not be reproduced), on a polished plate. Called a direct positive. The calotype - an image on paper, which was not as sharp but could be reproduced. Became the basis for modern photographic reproduction. The photogenic drawing - also on paper. Sometimes referred to as a contact print. Often made using leaves and other sources from nature. Bayards direct positives on paper. Paper was exposed to light until it darkened. Then soaked in potassium iodide and exposed in the camera. The light bleached the paper and resulted in unique direct positives.