LECTURE 3 - LECTURE 3 Lecture 3: The Invention of...

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LECTURE 3 Lecture 3: The Invention of Photography: William Henry Fox Talbot Outline: 1.W. H. F. Talbot and the Calotype WHF Talbot William Henry Fox Talbot: accomplished, interested in many fields, gentleman amateur. o 1830s: tinkered with possibilities for photography. Used paper and sensitize with silver salts, then fixed with hypo (chemical compound disc in 1819). Photogenic drawing is what he called it o then changed name to callotype. o Very fond of cameraless photographs. Lay botany specimens down on silver salts and this type of imagery used a lot of taxonomy. o Notice that they inverted the world + Daguerreotype: dark became light, light became dark + Had to make a secondary image from the original negative image, called this secondary a positive image (from then on negatives and positives) o Noticed that could shorten exposure type if underdeveloped and then used chemical to develop picture (mercury vapor) o This is part of the magic of photo: bringing out a latent image. o Very interested in using phot. Toward the same classical artistic traditions. o Three main adv over daguerreo: + Negative positive technique meant you could make unlimited copies from the negative + Easy to see clearly; daguerreo has a reflective surface, hard to see without
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technological lighting. + Relatively inexpensive because no copper plate, used paper instead o Big disadv: + No extraordinary, preternatural detail. The paper fibers quality sets low ceiling on resolution attainable. + Herschel? Said it was nothing but mistiness comparatively o Daguerreo more like a mirror of nature, spectacular in the 19th C. in its preciousness and uniqueness, seemed like painted miniature. But calligraphy belongs to the industrialized moment, like engraving, lithograph, because of the unlimited quanities, lower quality. o Talbot promoted relentlessly. Patented his process, and prosecuted rivals heavily. Earned a lot of animosity. Very restrictive with his patent rights. 2. The promotional brilliance of The Pencil of Nature Pencil of nature o Produced in installments between 1884 and 1886. o Makes arguments in pencil of nature to make sure there is a place for his technology. Anticipated the potentials of his new process: policework, archival work, etc. using photography as evidence in a court of law, etc. 3. Photography, labor, and industry Photo, labor industry
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o Talbot touts photography as a labor saving devic o Vacation on shores of a lake and trying to use a camera lucida to make drawing easier. o Camera lucida: little prism that superimposed image of person on paper, then tracing. o But Talbot not very good at it. Everyone around him was good at drawing, but he is not. He wanted a method for the image to get itself on paper itself. o Automatic production vs skilled labor (extent to which they are substitutable)
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This note was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course HAA Lit B-24 taught by Professor Kelsey during the Spring '08 term at Harvard.

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LECTURE 3 - LECTURE 3 Lecture 3: The Invention of...

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