Photography's Reinvention

The Open Door
Talbot described this work as an example "of the early beginnings of a new art." 
William Fox Talbot, The Open Door, 1843. Salted paper print from calotype negative.











But, wait! Let's not forget Talbot!


William Henry Fox Talbot

John Moffat, Portrait of William Henry Fox Talbot, 1866.











William Henry Fox Talbot, Latticed Window at Lacock Abbey, 1835.
Photogenic drawing.

Talbot's window











Talbot produced his first successful
photograph on paper in 1835
  • Soaked paper in a solution of sodium chloride, then a solution of silver nitrate
  • Repeated process several times to create a dense concentration of chemicals
  • Exposed wet sheet of iodized paper to light  
    (cutting exposure time from 1 hour to 10 minutes)
  • Image fixed with either potassium iodide or sodium chloride
William Henry Fox Talbot, 1837,
Photogenic Drawing.
In the following years, Talbot discovered that an invisible, "latent image" could be developed with gallic acid
Began coating paper with wax to make it more translucent
Negative was contact printed onto another sheet of sesnsitized paper























Direct Positive Print
the calotype established a negative/ positive printmaking system
1. Negative image produced by exposing light-sensitive paper
2. Positive image produced by contact printing onto another piece of paper
Negative Image
Positive Image
William Henry Fox Talbot, Oak Tree in Winter at Lacock Abbey, Early 1840s.
Calotype negative and Salted Paper Print positive.











William Henry Fox Talbot, Articles of China, 1844.
Salted Paper Print made from Calotype negative.











Salted paper:

  • Soaked in salt concentration
  • One side coated with silver nitrate
  • Dried
  • Contact printed with negative image
William Henry Fox Talbot, The Cloisters at Laycock Abbey, Salt print from a calotype negative, early 1840s.











Southworth and Hawes, Rollin Heber Neal, c. 1850. Daguerreotype.
William Henry Fox Talbot, The Ladder, 1844.
Salted paper print from Calotype negative.


Daguerreotyp vs. Calotype
Highly detailed
Creates contrast and mass
One step
Two step
Exposure time
Few seconds
Few minutes
Produced one-of-a-kind image
Produced infinite number of copies
Somewhat expensive if done at high quality studio
Relatively inexpensive
Experienced businessman
Scientist and intellectual











The Pencil of Nature

The Pencil of Nature = first book to include photographic images
  • In order to encourage the use of the calotype process and his former valet's photo printing establishment, Talbot sold subscriptions to The Pencil of Nature
  • Printed in six parts with 24 salted paper prints from paper negatives
  • Today, approximately forty complete or substantially complete copies survive
William Henry Fox Talbot, The Pencil of Nature, 1844 - 1846.











Talbot's valet's printing operation, c. 1845.











The Open Door

William Fox Talbot, The Open Door, 1843. Salted paper print from calotype negative.











picturesque = suggesting a painted scene, quaint, charming and favoring the emotional experience

sublime = lofty, grand or exalted in thought, expression or manner; of outstanding spiritual, intellectual or moral worth; tending to inspire awe
William Henry Fox Talbot, The Game Keeper, c. 1843.











Charles Negre, The Vampire, 1853. Missions Héliographiques. Salted paper print.











Wet-Collodion Process

1848 Frederick Scott Archer exposes iodized collodion while it is wet, resulting in a great improvement of the calotype process
collodion (pyroxylin) = a mixture of cellulose nitrates that is less explosive than guncotton, soluble in a mixture of organic solvents, and used especially in making plastics, coatings such as lacquers, as a coating for wonds or for photographic films





















Sally Mann, Last Light, 1989.











Commercial photographers quickly adopted the wet-collodion process
transparency = a direct translation of reality in which subjects were not suggested, as in the calotype and daguerreotype, but were clearly stated adn defined without overt intervention
Wet-Plate Camera

wet-plate chemicals

Wet-Plate Chemicals











Wet-Collodion Spin-Off Processes:
Ferrotype or Tintype













Introduced in 1854
Positive image on glass with an opaque black backing
One-of-a-kind image
Housed in Union Case, just like a daguerreotype
Unknown Photographer, Untitled Portrait,
Ambrotype with half the backing removed to show positive and negative effect.












Tintype/ Ferrotype

  • Ambrotype image made on a thin piece of metal instead of glass
  • Metal plate painted black with asphaltum, then coated with light sensitive collodion solution
  • One-of-a-kind image



Considered an instant process
Unknown, Civil War Soldier, c. 1862. Tintype.











Making a Tintype











Albumen paper

Albumen paper manufacture

1850 first practical prepared paper produced with
albumen = egg white
  • Paper is made light sensitive by 'floating' it on top of a tray filled with silver nitrate solution (producing light sensitive silver chloride in the albumen layer)
  • Paper is hung to dry in the dark
  • Exposed in contact with a negative image
Albumen paper manufacture





















Salted paper print
from calotype negative
Albumen paper print

Southworth and Hawes, Portrait of an Unknown Woman, c. 1850.
David Octavius Hill, Miss Crampton of Dublin, c. 1845.
Nadar, Sarah Bernhardt, 1865.












Brig Upon the Water

Albumen print advantages:
  • Smooth, glossy surface that looked modern
  • Provided sharper, better contrasted, more detailed print
  • Provided consistency not possible with calotypes
Gustave Le Gray, Brig Upon the Water, 1856. Albumen print.