Before Photography

 
"When I photograph, what I'm really doing is seeking answers to things." - Wynn Bullock

 
Marion Palfi, In the Shadow of the Capitol, 1948.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography = light writing
Three things needed to create a photograph:
1.
Optical device that can control light
2.
Chemical process that can reproduce the effects of light on a surface
3.
Chemical process that can fix light (the image) permanently
 
Eventually, a means of producing multiples of the image becomes desirable
Sunlight Through Trees at Dawn, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. The Optical Device

 

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

 

Room Size Camera Obscura

17th century drawing of a room size camera obscura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mo Ti

 

Ibn al Haytham

5th century Chinese philosopher Mo Ti created the first known camera obscura, which he called the "locked treasure room"
 
Muslim scientist & mathematician Ibn al Haytham wrote a famous book (c. 950) on optics that explained the nature of light utilizing, which he observed using what is now known as the camera obscura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aristotle's vision

Camera obscura effect observed through tree by Aristotle in 330 BC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Ausubel, Solar eclipse observed through telescope and leaves, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Orientalist

Physionotrace as illustrated by Walton Ford in The Orientalist, 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tracing a silhouette
Silhouette machine
silhouette tracing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

contemporary silhouette artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

camera lucida
Drawing with a Camera Lucida


 

create your own camera lucida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim's Vermeer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evolution of the Camera Obscura, Predecessor of the Modern Camera
a. Sixteenth-century cambera obscura
b. Seventeenth-century camera obscura
c. Nineteenth-century table model camera obscura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abelardo Morrell, Camera Obscura Image of Houses Across the Street in Our Living Room, 1991.
Abelardo Morrell, Camera Obscura Image of Times Square in Hotel Room, 1997.

 

How to make a room sized camera obscura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan Vermeer, Girl Reading a Letter at Window, 1657 - 1659.

 

Vermeer's Camera website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rentesses of the Old Men's Alms House
Frans Hals, Regentesses of the
Old Men's Alms Hous,
1664.
Jan Vermeer, Woman Holding
a Balance
, c. 1664.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura in San Francisco behind The Cliff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography = light writing
Three things needed to create a photograph:
1.
Optical device that can control light
2.
Chemical process that can reproduce the effects of light on a surface
3.
Chemical process that can fix light (the image) permanently
Eventually, a means of producing multiples of the image becomes desirable
Sunlight Through Trees at Dawn, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Chemical Reproduction of the Effects of Light

 

construction paper and photo exposed to sun for thirty years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1800 Thomas Wedgwood is first known inventor to attempt
to record the effects of light with a camera obscura
"sun pictures"
 
  • Placed objects on leather or paper sensitized with silver nitrate
cyanotype
  • Quickly turned shades of gray when exposed to light
  • Realized that the similar reaction would happen if paper placed against the inverted projection inside a camera obscura
  • Wedgwood could not permanently fix the image - the silhouettes had to be viewed with minimal light andstored in a light tight environment
 
  • Although none of Wedgwood's sun pictures survive, Anna Atkins's later cyanotype images provide an example of
    what such an image would look like
 
Anna Atkins and Anne Dixon. Cyanotype photogram of wood horsetail from the 1853 book Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why were so many inventors of the late 1800s interested in developing photographic technology?

 

Heliographic plate

Joseph Nicephore Niepce, Heliographic plate, 1825.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daumier, Third Class Carriage, 1864.
Gustave Courbet, The Stone Breakers, 1849 - 1850.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Industrial Revolution