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1841: THE CALOTYPE PROCESS

Using salted paper sensitized with silver nitrate or silver chloride, William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877) had made contact prints of plant specimens and had taken tiny negative views of windows with small “mousetrap” cameras. He had moved on to other research but immediately returned to his photogenic drawings after learning about the daguerreotype. With help from his friend, the eminent English astronomer John Herschel (1792–1871), who devised the best chemical mixture to fix the images (and also coined the term photography), Talbot improved his techniques. His calotype or talbo-type process, introduced in 1841, employed silver iodide and other chemicals to form a negative image on paper, which could then be used to produce multiple positive contact prints. 

 

"The Talbotype as Now Practised, and Its Modifications." The Photographic Art Journal, vol. 5, no. 4, 1853

"Photography and Talbotype." The Daguerreian Journal, vol. I, no. 2, 1850

"Mr. Fox Talbot's Patents in England." The Photographic Art Journal, vol. 1, no. 5, 1851

"Mr. Talbot's Second Patent Is Dated June 1st., 1843, and Consists of Various Modificacations and Improvements on the First." The Photographic Art Journal, vol. 1, no. 5, 1851
 

1851: THE WET COLLODION PROCESS

In 1851 the English inventor Frederick Scott Archer (1813–1857) invented the wet collodion process for making negatives on glass, which merged the clarity and fine detail of daguerreotypes with the reproducibility of calotypes. Dry collodion and dry gelatin glass plates soon followed, making cameras more portable and easier to use. Along with enhanced light-sensitive chemicals, new shutter mechanisms enabled swift exposures in fractions of a second. 

Adapted from: Boyd, Jane E. "Photography and Color Photography." Discoveries in Modern Science: Exploration, Invention, Technology, edited by James Trefil, vol. 3, Macmillan Reference USA, 2015

 

Photographic Notes. "Dry vs. Wet Collodion." The Photographic and Fine Art Journal, vol. XI, no. III, 185

Judge, J. A., and Extracts from Foreign Publications. "On the Wet Collodion Process." Humphrey's Journal, vol. X, no. 5, 1858

"The Wet-Collodion Process." The British Journal of Photography, vol. XL, no. 1754, 1893

"The Wet Collodion Process." The Photographic News, vol. LII, no. 602, 1907
 

1861-1865: THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

The American Civil War was the first war to be extensively documented by photography. The photographic process was still in its infancy in the first quarter of the nineteenth century; by modern standards it was a cumbersome and primitive process. With the advent of the war, photography, which had been largely limited to portraiture and the visual recording of landmarks, both natural and humanly constructed, took a new direction and discovered a new purpose. It recorded history with a graphic reality unrealized in any written description; it largely dispelled the romantic imagery of equestrian prowess, flashing sabers, and desperate but heroic stands by larger-than-life figures—images derived from paintings and illustrations that had been the more commonly depicted views of war before the photograph. Photography presented to the public the devastation of war and its destructive aftermath in all their grim reality. Although the Civil War was not definitively documented on film, there were approximately one million photographs taken between 1860 and 1865, and there were more than 3,000 photographers actively practicing their profession in the United States. 

Adapted from: "Photography." Gale Library of Daily Life: American Civil War, edited by Steven E. Woodworth, vol. 1, Gale, 2008 
 

Various. "Carte-De-Visite Album of American Civil War Celebrities, and English Peers and Politicians." Early Rare Photographs from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Primary Source Media, 1860's - 1880's

Miller, Francis Trevelyan. The Photographic History of the Civil War. Vol. 10, Review of Reviews Co., 1911

The Amateur Photographer and Photographic News. "The Pioneer of War Photographers." The Camera, vol. Nineteen, no. One, 1915

Elson, Henry W. The Civil War through the Camera. McKinlay, Stone & MacKenzie, [1912]

 

1886: THE HALF-TONE ENGRAVING PROCESS

Halftone process, in printing, a technique of breaking up an image into a series of dots so as to reproduce the full tone range of a photograph or tone art work. Breaking up is usually done by a screen inserted over the plate being exposed. The screens are made with a varying number of lines per inch, depending on the application. As a boy, Frederick Eugene Ives was apprenticed to a printer at the Litchfield Enquirer, where he became interested in photography. By the time he was 18 years old, he was in charge of the Cornell University photographic laboratory. While there, he developed an early halftone process using a gelatin relief. He continued to improve this process, and in 1881 he worked on the first commercial production of halftone printing plates using his method; in 1885 he introduced an improved halftone screen. 

Adapted from: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Frederic-Eugene-Ives

 

Levy, Louis Edward. "Remarks on the Autoglyphic or Half-Tone Engraving Process." The American Annual of Photography, 1890

Johnson, Henry Lewis, and Printers Ink. "Half-Tone Engravings; Their Use in Advertisements." St. Louis and Canadian Photographer, vol. 10, no. 3, 1892

G. D. "Wood-Engraving and Half-Tone Process." Photography: The Journal of the Amateur, the Professional, and the Trade, vol. VII, no. 349, 1895

"Half-Tone Engraving by the Enamel Process." The Photographic Times and American Photographer, vol. XXVII, no. 3, 1895
 

1891: COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHY

Lippmann made numerous contributions to instrumental design, particularly in connection with astronomy and seismology. His most notable contribution was the invention of the coelostat. Lippmann also devised a number of improvements on observational technique by the introduction of photographic or electrical methods of measurement. In 1908 Lippmann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics “for his method, based on the interference phenomenon, for reproducing colours photographically.” In the same year he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London. In Lippmann’s color process the sensitive emulsion, which is relatively thick, is backed by a reflecting surface of mercury. As a result the incident light is reflected back toward the source, and the incident and reflected beams combine to produce stationary waves. After development the film is found to contain reflecting planes of silver separated by distances of half a wavelength. When the film is viewed by reflected light, the color corresponding to the original beam is strongly reinforced by reflection by from successive planes.

Adapted from: "Lippmann, Gabriel Jonas." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 8, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008

 

Gravier, Ch. "La Photographie Des Couleurs." La Photographie Française, no. 3, 1891

"Photographing Colors." The Photographic Times and American Photographer, vol. XXI, no. 494, 1891

Canfield, C. W. "Lippmann's Experiments in Color Photography." The Photographic Times and American Photographer, vol. XXI, no. 495, 1891

Wall, E. J. "Photography in Colours." The Photographic News, vol. XXXIX, no. 1868, 1894
 

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