Inspired by light, passion and mystery. All images are copy-writed to myself, unless stated otherwise. No images may be used without consent.

Archive for the ‘Photographers (research)’ Category

Louis Daguerre and the Invention of the Daguerreotype

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre was born on the 18th of November 1787 and died on the 19th of July 1851.

In 1829, Daguerre partnered with Nicéphore Niépce, an inventor who had produced the world’s first heliograph in 1822 and the first permanent camera photograph four years later. Niépce died in 1833, but Daguerre continued experimenting and evolved the process which would subsequently be known as the Daguerreotype.

Earliest surviving heliographic engraving. The plate was exposed under an ordinary engraving and copied it by photographic means. This was a step towards the first permanent photograph from nature, taken with a camera obscura, in 1826.

After efforts to interest private investors proved fruitless, Daguerre went public with his invention in 1839. At a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences on 7 January of that year, the invention was announced and described in general terms, but all specific details were withheld. Members of the Academy and other select individuals were allowed to examine specimens at Daguerre’s studio. The images were enthusiastically praised as nearly miraculous and news of the Daguerreotype quickly spread. Arrangements were made for Daguerre’s rights to be acquired by the French Government in exchange for lifetime pensions for himself and Niépce’s son Isidore; then, on 19 August 1839, the French Government presented the invention as a gift from France “free to the world” and complete working instructions were published.

In 1826, prior to his association with Daguerre, Niépce used a coating of bitumen to make the first permanent camera photograph. The bitumen was hardened where it was exposed to light and the unhardened portion was then removed with a solvent. A camera exposure lasting for hours or days was required. Niépce and Daguerre later refined this process, but unacceptably long exposures were still needed.

After the death of Niépce in 1833, Daguerre concentrated his attention on the light-sensitive properties of silver salts, which had previously been demonstrated by Johann Heinrich Schultz and others. For the process which was eventually named the Daguerreotype, he exposed a thin silver-plated copper sheet to the vapor given off by iodine crystals, producing a coating of light-sensitive silver iodide on the surface. The plate was then exposed in the camera. Initially, this process, too, required a very long exposure to produce a distinct image, but Daguerre made the crucial discovery that an invisibly faint “latent” image created by a much shorter exposure could be chemically “developed” into a visible image. The latent image on a Daguerreotype plate was developed by subjecting it to the vapor given off by mercury heated to 75° Celsius. The resulting visible image was then “fixed” (made insensitive to further exposure to light) by removing the unaffected silver iodide with concentrated and heated salt water. Later, a solution of the more effective “hypo” (hyposulphite of soda, now known as sodium thiosulfate) was used instead.

The resultant plate produced an exact reproduction of the scene. The image was laterally reversed — as images in mirrors are — unless a mirror or inverting prism was used during exposure to flip the image. To be seen optimally, the image had to be lit at a certain angle and viewed so that the smooth parts of its mirror-like surface, which represented the darkest parts of the image, reflected something dark or dimly lit. The surface was subject to tarnishing by prolonged exposure to the air and was so soft that it could be marred by the slightest friction, so a Daguerreotype was almost always sealed under glass before being framed (as was commonly done in France) or mounted in a small folding case (as was normal in the UK and US).

The Daguerreotype was the Polaroid film of its day: it produced a unique image which could only be duplicated by using a camera to photograph the original. Despite this drawback, millions of Daguerreotypes were produced. The paper-based calotype process, introduced by Henry Fox Talbot in 1841, allowed the production of an unlimited number of copies by simple contact printing, but it had its own shortcomings—the grain of the paper was obtrusively visible in the image and the extremely fine detail of which the Daguerreotype was capable was not possible. The introduction of the wet collodion process in the early 1850s provided the basis for a negative-positive print-making process not subject to these limitations, although it, like the Daguerreotype, was initially used to produce one-of-a-kind images—ambrotypes on glass and tintypes on black-lacquered iron sheets—rather than prints on paper. These new types of images were much less expensive than Daguerreotypes and they were easier to view. By 1860 few photographers were still using Daguerre’s process.

The same small ornate cases commonly used to house Daguerreotypes were also used for images produced by the later and very different ambrotype and tintype processes, and the images originally in them were sometimes later discarded so that they could be used to display photographic paper prints. It is now a very common error for any image in such a case to be described as “a Daguerreotype”. A true Daguerreotype is always an image on a highly polished silver surface, usually under protective glass. If it is viewed while a brightly lit sheet of white paper is held so as to be seen reflected in its mirror-like metal surface, the Daguerreotype image will appear as a relatively faint negative—its dark and light areas reversed—instead of a normal positive. Other types of photographic images are almost never on polished metal and do not exhibit this peculiar characteristic of appearing positive or negative depending on the lighting and reflections.

Daguerreotype of Louis Daguerre in 1844 by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot.

Full article and extra information can be found here.


Justin Quinnell

Justin Quinnell’s photograph of the Clifton Suspension Bridge

The spectacular picture shows each phase of the sun over Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge taken over a six month period. It plots the sun’s daily course as it rises and falls over Brunel’s famous structure, which spans the 702ft (214m) Avon Gorge. Incredibly, the eerie image was captured on a basic pin-hole camera made from an empty drinks can with a 0.25mm aperture and a single sheet of photographic paper.

Photographer Justin Quinnell strapped the camera to a telephone pole overlooking the Gorge, where it was left between December 19, 2007 and June 21, 2008 – the winter and summer solstices.

His final photograph, called ‘Solargraph’, shows six months of the sun’s luminescent trails and its subtle change of course caused by the earth’s movement in orbit. The lowest arc shows the first day of exposure on the winter solstice, while the top curves were captured in the middle of summer. Its dotted lines of light are the result of overcast days when the sun struggled to penetrate the cloud.

I also really like his pinhole photography, which I will be looking into later for my pinhole work. The way he uses his pinhole camera, almost like a digital camera is a real inspiration to me. I was going to create a pinhole camera with my digital camera, but my Lumix is too annoying and wont work without a lens attached. A pity, but i might create one using my Slr camera instead.

Anne Hardy

Hardy’s images appear to be photographs of existing places but they are quite the opposite. They are actually carefully constructed sets, created by the artist in her studio, which she then photographs. The subjects of Hardy’s artworks are usually objects or junk which she has found in markets, DIY shops, urban skips or jumble sales. The type of objects she chooses have ranged from large antlers, brightly coloured cables, old Christmas trees, light bulbs, American basketballs, orange balloons, scientific test tubes and even butterflies. Hardy puts these everyday objects together and transforms them into unusual, almost dreamlike, environments which can be unnerving with their themes of abandonment and desolation. The fabricated scenes of Hardy’s work reflect and comment on modern life in the western world, how people try to manipulate the space around them and how objects bought can too frequently be taken for granted or thrown away.

I don’t know if I would say Hardy’s work is photography, as she is just photographing her artwork. I do think its ok, how she finds things and creates something new from them. But I don’t understand what the things she makes are supposed to be, they just look like a mash-up of all the things she found. This is my opinion and I want you to make your own about here work.

David Levinthal

His works touch upon many aspects of American culture, from Barbie to baseball to X-rated dolls. Levinthal uses small toys and props with dramatic lighting to construct mini environments of subject matters varying from war scenes to voyeurism to racial and political references to American pop culture.

Levinthal creates miniature scenarios using shoeboxes, cardboard, and foam core to make miniature offices, hotel rooms, pool halls, foyers and narrow corridors. These shadowy and dark scenes expose the secrecy and intimacy of small spaces. Levinthal is particularly interested in exploring the different emotions that each scene produces, such as reactions to an office corridor in contrast to those to a hospital or a private bedroom.

Another of my fave photographers. I really like how he can make toys look real using medium format cameras. I tried using a medium format camera in college, and I fell in love with it. I recreated scenes from Jurassic park using toys. I really liked the depth the camera could give. And I hope to use one again.

This is one of the images from my Jurassic Park series I did on a medium format camera at college. It does look better on paper because it is a darkroom print and I had to scan it in. But I was really pleased with how the images came out.

Tom Hunter

Tom Hunter graduated from the London College of Printing with a BA First Class Honors [1994]; Hunter took his MA at the Royal College of Art, London [1997]. In 1998, Hunter won the John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award. In 2006 Hunter was the first artist to have a photography show at the National Gallery, London.

Hunter currently lives and works in London. His work is often particular, but not exclusive, to the community of travelers he knows as neighbors and friends in East London. He has exhibited work both nationally and internationally, in solo and group shows and is also a Senior Research Fellow of the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.

Man Ray

Man Ray (August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976) was an American artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. Perhaps best described simply as a modernist, he was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. Best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, Man Ray produced major works in a variety of media and considered himself a painter above all. He was also a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. He is noted for his Photograms, which he renamed “rayographs” after himself.

Man Ray has influenced my work, in two ways experiments and darkroom techniques. I have tried solarisation and photo-grams. I really like Man Ray’s images, he inspires me to learn more in the darkroom and the further my techniques. Like Ansel Adams, he make me want to be a better darkroom photographer.

Paul Strand

Paul Strand (October 16, 1890 – March 31, 1976) was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow modernist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century. His diverse body of work, spanning six decades, covers numerous genres and subjects throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa.

Born in New York City to Bohemian parents, in his late teens Strand was a student of renowned documentary photographer Lewis Hine at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. It was while on a field trip in this class that Strand first visited the 291 art gallery – operated by Stieglitz and Edward Steichen – where exhibitions of work by forward-thinking modernist photographers and painters would move Strand to take his photographic hobby more seriously. Stieglitz would later promote Strand’s work in the 291 gallery itself, in his photography publication Camera Work, and in his artwork in the Hieninglatzing studio. Some of this early work, like the well-known “Wall Street,” experimented with formal abstractions (influencing, among others, Edward Hopper and his idiosyncratic urban vision). Other of Strand’s works reflects his interest in using the camera as a tool for social reform. He was one of the founders of the Photo League, an association of photographers who advocated using their art to promote social and political causes.

Paul Strands work, to me, reminds me of cubism and surrealism. The way he uses light and shadows to change your perception of an image. Your eyes start to wonder what they are looking at, as the shadows intercept the image breaking it up and turning it into something new.

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