Hinds1Samantha HindsMs. Bennett12th Lit/Comp7 October 2011 History of Photography “I began to realize that the camera sees the world differently than the human eye and thatsometimes those differences can make a photograph more powerful than what you actuallyobserved” -Galen Rowell, nature photographer. Throughout almost two centuries, photographyhas become one of the most popular forms of visual arts. The art of photography has progresseddramatically, such as the camera size, the quality of pictures, and even the way the pictures aredeveloped; but even with all these changes, the art of photography and the development of rawpictures; however the process may be, is still there. Something that many people do not know is that photography,or better, the idea ofphotography,has been around for many centuries. It was first thought of by the ancient Greeks;they discovered that images could be produced or projected by making a very small hole in thewall of a dark room. Though they had no way of making the images permanent mechanically,they would have people come in and trace the images on the wall. How the images turned out inthe end depended on the artistic level of the person tracing.This idea or method was calledcamera obscura. (Lewis 3057) In the 1820s, Joseph Niépce discovered a method of producing images using a glass platecoated in a solution called bitumen. Bitumen was light-sensitive, and was coated on a glass plate
Hinds2and set in the sun. Niépce combined Bitumen with the camera obscura, and some of the ideas oflithography, a method of printing an image by applying patterned layers of color to paper with aseries of etched metal or stone plates (Lewotsky2352); his process became known asHeliography (“sun drawing”). With that process he produced the first known successful picture,which was the courtyard of his family estate, taken from a window on the upper level of thehouse. Niépce had the plate with the bitumen solution sitting in the sun for almost eight hours,and by exposing the plate that long, he captured light from all angles so the light was not comingfrom a single place. A few years later, Louis Daguerre, a stage set designer from Paris, contactedNiépce after hearing he had found a way to get an image to become permanent. The two formeda partnership and later altered Niépce‟s method; instead of using a glass plate, they used copperand the bitumen was replaced by a photosensitive silver iodine solution.Daguerre also invented anew lens that produced sharper images. After Niépce‟s death in 1833, Daguerre sustained contact with Niépce‟s son, but went onto continue his research on his own. He continued to improve the method that he and Niépcecame up with; he discovered the idea of treating the exposed silver iodine solution with mercuryvapor, and by doing that, it no longer took hours to produce an image, but instead only minutes.He gave credit to Niépce for the original invention, but took credit himself for perfecting theprocess. He later went on to name the process “daguerreotype” in 1838. The Académie desSciences was so highly impressed by Daguerre‟s work that the French government offered topurchase his invention. Daguerre and Niépce‟s son Isidore published the technical details of thedaguerreotype and the original research, and supporters of Daguerre pushed the Frenchgovernment to give them both pension for their publication. In later years a company was createdto produce the equipment to make the daguerreotypes, with the profits being split between the
Hinds3manufacturer, Daguerre, and Isidore Niépce. Throughout the following years the daguerreotypesbecame more and more popular around the world, and by 1841 improvements had been madeand the exposure time was shortened to around forty seconds (Evans 582). In the meantime in the 1830s, Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot created the firstlight sensitive paper. He discovered by soaking paper in a salt solution, and then coating it withsilver nitrate, the images would remain permanent on the paper. The image that Talbot capturedwas a "negative"—that is, the light objects appeared dark on the paper, and vice versa. Herealized that by placing this negative on top of a second sheet of paper and exposing both tosunlight, the process would repeat itself, forming a "positive” or true image (Watson425).Despite this great discovery, Talbot‟s method, along with Daguerre‟s,was inconvenient,because the exposure took up to sixty minutes in some cases. So because the exposure took solong, moving objects could not be photographed, and as a result portraits could not be taken. In1840 Talbot went back and drastically altered and improved his process. He found that a veryshort camera exposure (about 1/60 of that required to give a visible image) left an invisible"latent" image on the sensitized paper. The latent image was then "developed" into a visibleimage by treatment with a solution of gallic acid and silver nitrate (Jolly 250). Talbot‟s methodwas so superior that the process for developing film in modern day is almost the same. The maindifference between Talbots process and modern photographic practice is that now the silverhalide, in the form of approximately micron-sized crystals or "grains," is suspended in gelatin.The gelatin mixture is coated as a thin film on glass plates or flexible sheets of plastic or paper(Jolly 250). This process was known as calotype.
Hinds4 Alexander Wolcott opened the world‟s first photography studio in 1840 in New YorkCity, known as a “Daguerrean Parlor”. Also during this time, József Petzval and FriedrichVoigtländer were in the process of creating a better, more efficient camera and lens design.While experimenting, Petzval produced an achromatic portrait lens; a lens that had a double lens,and ultimately captured images about twenty times faster than the lens on Daguerre‟sdaguerreotype. Meanwhile, Voigtländer improved Daguerre‟s clumsy little box into a box thatwould be more convenient for a traveler. Later in the 1840s the United States had daguerreanartists in every city, and there were traveling photographers who transformed the back of wagonsinto studios (“photography, history of”). From around the 1850s and into the early twentieth century stereographs became one ofthe more popular forms of photography. The process involved taking two pictures of the samesubject from two different lenses, then usually putting both pictures on a flat surface side by side.Stereographs were designed to make images appear to be three dimensional. At the same time, inthe 1850s photography was revolutionized by the invention of the wet collodion process, whichmade glass negatives. This process was discovered by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851 and wasabout twenty times faster than all other process before it. The process had one major flaw: thephotographer had to prepare the plate almost immediately before exposure and expose it andprocess it while the coating was wet. Collodion is a solution of nitrocellulose (guncotton) inalcohol and ether; when the solvents evaporate, a clear plastic-like film is formed. Since it is thenwaterproof, the chemicals used for developing the exposed silver halides and removing theunexposed salts cannot penetrate the coating to act upon them. The wet collodion process wasquickly adopted around the world because it concentrated detail with great precision that rivaledthat of the daguerreotype. It was the most popular form of photography for more than 30 years
Hinds5and greatly increased the popularity of photography worldwide, despite the fact that it wasunequally sensitive to different colors of the color spectrum (“photography, history of”). In the 1870s there were many attempts to replace the wet collodion process with dryplates, so the plates could be prepared beforehand and developed after long exposure. By makingthat change, there would be no need for a portable dark room. In 1871 Richard Leach Maddox,an English physician, came up with the idea of suspending silver bromide in a gelatin emulsion,an idea that led to the introduction of factory-produced dry plates coated with gelatin containingsilver salts in 1878. This event was the beginning of the modern era of photography(“photography, history of”). These gelatin plates were about sixty times more sensitive than thecollodion plates. This discovery led to the invention of a variety of hand- held cameras beinginvented; the most popular of all was the Kodak camera in 1888, which was invented by GeorgeEastman. Most of the Kodak advertising was pointed towards women, and soon after, thepopularity of amateur photography increased dramatically. Kodak was described by Eastmanas,“You Press the Button, We Do the Rest” (“photography, history of”), and Eastman stuck bythat motto. Since the camera had a roll of flexible negative material,later adapted into modernfilm, that could hold around one hundred 2.5 centimeter in diameter pictures, after the finalimage was exposed the material was sent to the Kodak factories, then processed, printed andreturned. In the beginning, Eastman‟s so-called “American film” was used in the camera; thisfilm was paper- based, and the gelatin layer containing the image was stripped away afterdevelopment and fixing and moved to a transparent support. In 1889 the “American film”processess was replaced by film on a transparent plastic base of nitrocellulose that had beeninvented in 1887 (“photography, history of”).
Hinds6 After the turn of the twentieth century, many photographers strived for their images tolook more like photographs instead of looking like paintings and started to value the qualitiesfound only in photography. Another common type of photography around this time wasdocumentary photography. Lewis W. Hine was one of the big names in documentaryphotography; he started a photographic documentary of immigrants coming into Ellis Island. Helater went on to become a full time social photographer (as he liked to call himself) and workedfor the National Child Labor Committee. He concentrated most on getting images of children atwork, most often in factories. He ended up with thousands of images of underage childworkersworking in textile mills, mines, canning establishments, glass factories, and in streettrades throughout the United States. Hine‟s work had a large impact on the passing of child laborlaws. During the Great Depression, the federal government undertook a documentary project.The project comprised more than 270,000 images produced by eleven photographers working indifferent places at different times. All worked to show the effects that the economic downturn,the lack of rain, and the wasting of agriculture in the South and the Midwest had on agriculturedisplacement throughout the entire United States. In this project, the documentation thephotographers got did double duty. There were two main tasks the photographers had tocomplete; one task was to record conditions both on nonfunctioning farms and in newhomesteads created by federal legislation. The other was to stimulate compassion so thatproblems addressed by legislative action would win support (“photography, history of”). Another one of the more common growing forms of photography around the turn of thecentury was photojournalism. More and more magazines were being produced and published,and with cameras becoming lighter and easier to carry, photos in magazines grew to be in highdemand. In 1924 and 1925, two revolutionary miniature camerasErmanox in 1924 and the
Hinds7Leicain 1925, changed the world of photographic journalism forever. With wide lenses, thecameras were able to capture images within seconds when outdoors, and even indoors if therewas enough light. (“photography, history of”) The auto chrome process was first introduced in 1907 and was one of the first attempts atcolor photography. In 1935,Leopold Godowsky, Jr., and Leopold Mannes, who were workingwith the Kodak Research Laboratories, established the modern era of color photography withtheir invention of Kodachrome film. With this reversal (slide) film, color transparencies could beobtained that were suitable both for projection and for reproduction. In 1942 Kodak introducedthe Kodacolor negative-positive film that twenty years later—after many improvements inquality and speed and a great reduction in price—would become the most popular film used foramateur photography (“photography, history of”). With the discovery of color film, more photographers became interested in thepossibilities the color film could hold. After World War II, photographers started to back awayfrom photojournalism and documentaries and started to look more into abstract photography, andhow to make images look more like paintings again. Unknown at the time, but these abstractstyles of colors, and interpretations of average items led to the introduction of graffiti. Streetphotography started to become really popular. Photographers would walk around with acameraand would photography how life really was, not like in the great depression, but usingcandid photos of anything that caught their eye (“photography, history”). As time passed into the 1970s some of the pictures became a little more controversialabout alternate lifestyles, including pictures of drug addiction and many other controversial„lifestyles‟ that in the past would not have been deemed appropriate. Color photography started
Hinds8to be used as a way to show how life really was, to capture all the feelings and emotions of life.Throughout the remainder of the century, photographs were set aside more for video and otherforms of media. Photography was no longer the dominant form of media in the world(“photography, history of”). At the turn of the twenty-first century, began the digital era; film was replaced withdigital cameras, almost always in color. With the development of digital photography came waysto digitally edit pictures in ways that did not exist when developing by hand. The newphenomenon became Adobe‟s Photoshop. Many photographers realized that they couldmanipulate photos in more ways than ever before, and in some cases changing the picture alltogether. There are very few pictures today in magazines, or on television, or anywhere else thathave not been digitally edited in some way (Rich 6) Photography has changed and adapted over the past hundred years or so. It has beenthrough possibly thousands of trial and errors. Now it is probably the oldest form of media havetoday, and at the end of the day no matter how the photo was taken or processed, the raw pictureis still one of the purest forms of art there is in this world. Whether amateur photographers orprofessional photographers, it does not matter who is behind the lens; it is what is seen by peoplethat matters most.