26 January 2009

Maxime Du Camp (1822–1894): oriental visions

"Porte D'Oree, Jerusalem"
1850, calotype, ca. 1850s

"Rive Oriental du Nil, Nubie"
1849-50, calotype

Nubie, Ibsamboul, Colosse Orientale du Spéos, 1850,
salt print, paper negative, ca. 1850

source: http://www.leegallery.com/ducamp.html

Abu Simbel, 1850
Salted paper print (Blanquart-Evrard Process) from paper negative

25 January 2009

Portraiture and Photography

Antecedents: miniature painting and silhouette

François I of France
Jean Clouet (c.1535, oil on panel)

Miniature portrait painting evolved in the Renaissance from the art of illuminating books.

Beethoven as a boy,
18th century silhouette portrait

Machine for drawing silhouettes.
From the 1792 English edition of
Johann Kasper Lavater's Essays on Physiognomy

Daguerreotype portraits

Daguerreotype of a young man
by T.H. Newcomer, Philadelphia.
Split leather case with the photographer's imprint on velvet mat.

source: http://www.antiquephotographics.com/Format%20Types/dags&ambros.htm

With rapid developments in the daguerreotype's materials, equipment and technique, portraiture, formerly a privilege of the powerful and the very wealthy, gained popularity and soon developed into a large industry providing a new commodity for mass consumption.

Prestige, utility, the human passion for the mimetic, narcissistic investment and the human desire for the kind of immortality conferred by memory come together in portraiture and in photographic portraiture. Photography can be understood as both an instrument of emotional attachment and the very index of human finitude. Thanks to photography, Zeno’ s paradox of time and distance turns into a description of the existential structures of individuality, a description of the temporal condition of the human subject.

Unknown photographer. Jabez Hogg making a portrait in Richard Beard' s Studio, 1843, daguerreotype

A daguerreotype describing the relationship between photographer and sitter, both immobilized, suspended in the extended instant, during the time of the exposure. The daguerreotype camera is seen in its role of mediator at the center of the composition. The photographic act can only be represented by momentary, real in-action.

Marcelo G. Lima

20 January 2009

Latent Image

The concept of the photographic latent image is characterized by B. Newhall as: " a relatively week light signal is amplified enormously by development" (1)

The action of light in the sensitized plate, paper or film is just the initial stage towards the formation of the photographic image, a process that must be complemented by development. The concept, according to Newhall, was announced by Talbot in 1841. Previously, Talbot allowed the action of light to be prolonged until the image appeared. The new procedure greatly reduced the necessary exposure time.

The idea that a feeble image can be "increased, brought out, and strengthened" after the completion of the exposure process, was part of the daguerreotype process, as Talbot himself noted in an address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, after Daguerre´s disclosure of his invention. (2) It was in fact the pioneer discovery of Niépce in the 1820s. (3)

The pictures from the Salomon Andree expedition to the North Pole in 1897 are examples of the stability of the latent image. The expedition ended with the death of the explorers. Their remains were only found in 1930. And among the materials recovered, there were photographic plates which were successfully developed 33 years after being exposed.

(1) History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present
by Beaumont Newhal, New York, 1997 (5th edition) , p. 43.

History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present
by Beaumont Newhal, p.25

(3) Photography by Eric de Maré, London, 1980, p. 20.

The Örnen (Eagle) shortly after its descent onto pack ice.
Photographs by Nils Strindberg, member of the
S. A. Andrée's Arctic balloon expedition of 1897

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:%22Eagle%22.crashed2.jpg