Beginnings of Digital Photography – 1990s © Bill (William) Marder -1998
The 1990s brought in a new process and new phase of photography the electronic era and digital photography as a wave of the future. The quality of the image has changed little since the first practical daguerreotype process in 1839 and the subsequent albumin, wet plate, platinum and silver processes created with the by-products of elaborate equipment and dangerous chemicals. Each advance in photography has only made it easier and more convenient for the photographer. Digital cameras, the computer and printer are another step in the path for convenience. Throughout the history of photography the photographer utilized some type of camera and lens to capture and record an image. First by chemical means and now thru electronics. Once the image was captured in the camera various chemical methods in the past were used to transfer the image on to paper, canvas , material, tin, celluloid etc. The darkroom and chemicals were used to transfer these images. Our environment has been affected by these chemicals going into the earth and contributing to the world’s pollution. With the use of electronics it is now possible to record the image in a digital camera and transfer it on paper or any other support as well as transmit it wireless. The quality has vastly improved to where today it has outdistanced conventional film photography slowly bringing about its demise as a present day process.
Digital cameras work in every way like a film camera with one extraordinary exception. Both types of cameras have a lens that brings light from the scene into focus. Both have an aperture, a hole that can be made larger or smaller to control the amount of light entering. Both have a shutter device that opens and closes the aperture for a set amount of time. Both have light meters that automatically set the shutter speed and the aperture opening. Instead of recording the image on film and the silver deposits thereon, the digital camera uses what is called an image sensor, usually a charge-coupled device (CCD) or CMOS. The CCD/CMOS, measuring the size of a dime, is a silicon chip with a grid containing hundreds of thousands or millions of photosensitive diodes called photo elements or pixels. On film the photosensitive matter is made of a substance with silver that turns darker and darker depending upon the amount of light it absorbs. Once film is exposed to light, it contains a fairly permanent record of the objects from which the light has been deflected, but a digital image contained in these photosensitive diodes is only as permanent as the electrical charge that holds it. Once the electrical record of the image is gone, so is the image unless it is stored to a magnetic or optical disk. Even the magnetically stored image is not like a film negative, however, for the magnetic charges can be modified without leaving a trace of the original image. Film negatives can be tampered with but an expert can tell if the negative has been “doctored.” No expert can tell if a digital image has been modified or “doctored” for there is no evidence left for the expert to examine. Digital images do not consist of molecules of silver embedded in plastic but of highly volatile electrical or magnetic charges.
In addition digital photography and the computer has given the photographer the dual ability to produce an exact rendering of his photograph or a work of art. In the early years of photography the original purpose was to produce an exact “likeness” of the subject. In the 1870s and 1880s we entered a pictorial phase of photography where the subject was posed and the prints were manipulated to resemble paintings with elaborate backgrounds.
Photographers have always attempted to imitate and produce their work along the lines of a painter. When photography was initially introduced the art world was stunned to hear the expression “Today Painting is Dead.” Instead, painting has flourished. New art methods made their appearance besides oil. Charcoal, watercolor, acrylic etc. all became popular. It is well known that there has always been a blending with art and photography. Artists as Degas, Delacroix, Manet, Tissot, Corot etc. purchased cameras to assist them in their paintings. Many aspiring artists became photographers and vice versa,
In the 1930s Edward Weston through his use of light and composition and darkroom techniques advanced photography to a fine art. Now with the digital camera , the computer and its software programs, art and photography are slowly being diffused into a thin line separating electronic computer generated art and painting by hand. This work can be created by a photograph taken with a traditional or digital camera and the use of digital technologies to reproduce them, or for a work using digital technologies to create the original art. The final results if needed can be printed and stretched on canvas and painted with translucent, clear or opaque acrylic paints. All these variations can end up giving the final output a spectacular look with the feel of an oil or arcylic painting.
The progression to digital photography encompassed many long steps. Before our present CCD/CMOS sensor chip technology could be invented and made practical for digital photography, a series of theories and progressions had to evolve. As early as the 1880s a number of discoveries, and crude applications were engineered to evolve into mechanical devices, tubes, transistors, and large cathode ray tubes eventually to be utilized in the 1950s to transmit photographs for television and for use in video motion and still cameras. Ansel Adams working with Polaroid instant cameras remarked in Popular Photography, January 1980, “I actually feel that in the next few years—it won’t be very long— the electronic image is really going to be the medium in photography”.
The major technological breakthroughs in consumer electronics have evolved in the past twenty years. All this would not have been possible without the invention of the microchip and miniaturized circuits. The two men responsible set the stage in 1959 when they applied for patents. Jack Kilby and Texas Instruments received U.S. patent #3,138,743 for miniaturized electronic circuits. Robert Noyce and the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation received U.S. patent #2,981,877 for a silicon based integrated circuit. These inventions made allowed the breakthrough towards microsize wireless electronic circuits for use in high speed computers and digital cameras. This fundamental shift in technology totally changed how we handle visual and audio information and completely redefined what is possible. The digital camera is one of the most remarkable inventions of this change because it is so different from its predecessor, the film camera . Conventional film cameras depend entirely on chemical and mechanical processes. All digital cameras have a built-in computer, and all of them record images in an entirely new electronic form.
When you get down to it, CDs, DVDs, HDTV, MP3s and DVRs are all built around the same basic process: converting conventional analog information (represented by a gradually fluctuating wave) into digital information. Once the shutter is pressed on a digital camera, the lens projects the image on a chip called a charge coupled device or CCD. The image breaks into thousands or more of small dots called picture elements- or just pixels. Each of these pixels have a tiny electrical charge. Circuits in the camera covert each charged pixel into a number representing digitized information. The more pixels, the sharper the image. In most less expensive consumer cameras the image is broken up to 640 pixels horizontally by 480 vertically, to give a total of slightly more than 300,000 pixels. The larger the chip or with advanced technology in newer chips the greater number of pixels, will allow larger files, at a higher resolution, to give a sharper images for extreme blowups.
Transmitting images by wire was first suggested by Alexander Graham Bell in the 1880s. Bell proposed an optical system for transmitting telephone signals without wires. In 1884 Paul Nipkow, a German inventor, developed and patented the world’s first electromechanical television system. Nipkow used a rotating disk to send pictures over a wire in 1884. Without the invention of amplification the very weak signals (produced by a selenium cell) produced pictures only as small as one square inch on a receiving screen. This first invention of early “cable television” was deemed impractical. In 1895 Scientific American described the Amstutz Electro-Artrograph, which could scan photographs and transmit them over wire. It illustrated a photograph, and drawings of the devices en route to the destination, and the final photo as reproduced by a receiving device. Electronic television is based on the development of the cathode ray picture tube found in modern television sets. Julius Plucker, a German mathematician and physicist first identified in Cathode rays 1859. In 1878 William Crookes, a British chemist, confirmed the rays existed by building a tube that displayed them. English physicist Ambrose Flemming, working with Crookes’ tube, found that cathode rays could be deflected and focused. By 1897 the cathode ray tube was perfected so as to be used as a scanning system for today’s television.
In 1908 Alan Archibald Cambell Swinton of Scotland suggested the first practical system of electronic photography using cathode ray tubes at both ends. Swinton published his theoretical idea 1911, in the journal, Nature. The system worked by scanning an image with a beam of electrons onto a photoelectric mosaic, which was fixed to one tube. The electrical signal produced by an electronic camera would control the intensity of a second electron beam scanning the fluorescent screen. The system enabled images to be sent from one area to another area by cable using invisible waves to transport the signal instantly. Swinton proposed that twenty five electronic images produced every second with added sound would produce electronic images.. Although laughed at when first proposed, this basic system became a reality by 1932 as television, utilizing the world’s first system of electronic photography. In 1924 RCA transmited the first radio photograph, a predecessor to the facsimile machine, across the Atlantic Ocean. Bell Laboratories followed April 8, 1927 by sending the first mechanical television transmission in the U.S.
All these preceeding inventions and theories led to the first electronic cameras to be built to record and broadcast electronic images. In 1951 Bing Crosby laboratories introduced the VTR, which recorded the electrical impulses onto magnetic tape. By 1956 the VTR technology worked well, and it began to have a large impact on the television industry. John T. Mullin, was the engineer responsible for producing the Ampex model 200 VTR. The electronic labs were sold in 1956 to the 3M company. This, together with the development of computers in the 1950’s began the digital age.
The space programs in the 1960s paved the way for this new technology. Before NASA sent astronauts to the moon, probes were sent to map the surface of the moon. These probes sent back analogue signals to earth, NASA engineers found that the transmissions were too weak to compete with natural radio sources in the cosmos. Current television receivers could not decipher the images sent back from the moon. NASA engineers had to find a way to enhance and sharpen the images. Images were processed through a computer and turned into a digital signal, and all noise and corruption of the data was removed. By the time Apollo went to the moon, transmissions were coming back crystal clear. The cold war accelerated the development of digital imaging, mostly used for spy satellites and imaging systems.
Photography and early electronic art began to emerge as a reality in the 1960s. At an exhibit at the Open Space Gallery, Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1998, supported by the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts and private foundations, Mary Ross, the curator explained the transitional phase during the l960’s,70’s and 80’s that allowed artists to use the latest new technology for their art. Shown was the work of twenty artists and their experiments utilizing electronic and digital photography as a powerfull creative force.
Shown were unconventional techniques as the Kirlian process (also known as electro-photography.) Artist Sonia Landy Sheridan explained her generative system for using black and white copy machines and other means of altering images electronically to produce works of art. Sheridan born in 1925 discovered additional still-imaging, and graphic capabilities that went far beyond their original purpose. Sheridan and her students at the Art Institute of Chicago, began to experiment with photocopiers, video, computers and electronic imaging as image making tools. Sheridan developed her art and teaching on the idea that art, science and technology function as connecting systems of thought.
In l965, Sony Corporation introduced the first consumer home use, black and white videotape recorder and camera for the amateur, called the CVC-2000 followed by the 1965 AVC-2100 B/W vidicon Viewfinder Camera and CVC-2100. The CVC 2000 featured a viewfinder consisting of two square wire loops that the operator peeped through. In 1966 Sony introduced the world’s first color home videotape recorder model. It was followed in 1967 by the DVK-2400/VCK 2400 Videocorder/Camera Ensemble or Portapak video recording camera. The outfit weighed over 20 pounds and cost thousands of dollars. This new technology was advertised as, ” A new dimension in sight and sound recording has been achieved with a miniaturized Videocorder, now able to be carried over your shoulder and a solid state TV Camera that is hand-held, trigger-ready to shoot “live” action, indoors or outdoors.” The Videocorder used a 1/2″ wide magnetic video tape, running at 7 1/2 ips.”
In 1972 the first electronic camera that did not require film was created and patented by Texas Instruments. The patent was for a Camera Electronic Control Module. This module controlled the shutter, flash and motor in the SX-70 camera. The first prototype modules were shipped in February, 1972 to Polaroid. It was a step towards a digital camera. The development of digital camera technology was linked to the development of TV and Video technology. The principles of transmission and recording of audio-visual images using digital electrical impulses finds use in camera imaging as well. The launching of the first digital camera was still about ten years away.
On August 25, 1981, at a packed conference in Tokyo, Sony unveiled a prototype of the company’s first still video camera, their Mavica Electronic camera (Magnetic Video Camera). The Mavica was not yet quite a complete digital camera, but a camera using NTSC (television) technology capable of writing TV quality stills with a picture 570 pixels by 490 pixels onto magnetic disks, with a shutter that would allow it to freeze frames within the limits set by twin-field interlace making up the complete frame. Called the Mavica (magnetic video camera) it allowed the magnetic video still camera to do away with film and and any developing and printing processes which are indispensable to conventional chemical photography. The Mavica was a single lens reflex with interchangeable lenses. It recorded images on two-inch floppy disks and played them back on a TV set or Video monitor. Each image was recorded in its own single circle on the floppy disk that Sony called the “Mavipak.” Up to fifty color photos could be stored on one Mavipak. Multiple exposure of 2, 4, 8. or 20 images could be selected. The Mavica was powered by three AA-size batteries. Images were displayed on a television set and were considered to be equal in quality to the maximum capability of a TV set of that time. It started a new era in photography by involving a number of manufacturers into experimenting towards the first digital camera.
With the early experiments towards analog/digital cameras came the development towardsa smaller personal computer. The massive UNIVAC computer that grew from the results of World War II required so many operators because the machine (in a cabinet 50 feet by 30 feet) contained 18,000 tubes and every time the operators started the machine, they were assured that some of the tubes would fail. After the first crude analog microcomputer kit with plans were published in magazines, the Heathkit EC-1, was introduced as a small inexpensive kit desktop computer in 1959, for under $200. It was analog, and could be used to solve only certain small types of problems. It was not what most people think of as a computer today.
In the 1980s Apple computer and IBM became the leading innovators in smaller computer technology. These smaller computer had far more power than the room-size monstrosity of the UNIVAC. Itel introduced the first computer wooden mouse in 1971. The Apple 1 computer introduced in 1976 now considered a prtotype as only 200 were built sold for $666.66. It came with 4K of RAM and a MOS 6502 CPU running at 1.0MHz. The whole computer was a circuit board mounted inside a wood compartment. The Apple 1 signaled the end of toggle switches and blinkenlights, and launched the interactive graphical microcomputer as a new class of machine.
The IBM 1975 Model 5100 built before PC and DO,S was the first microcomputer, not a mainframe, considered by some as the world’s first portable computer although weighing 55-pounds, with a 5 inch screen and selling for about $15,000. The IBM 5100 came in a number of expensive models specifically designed for professional and scientific problem-solvers, not business users or hobbyists. There were very few other computers available at the time, and nothing even close to the capabilities of the 5100. It was a complete system – with a built-in monitor, keyboard, and data storage. IBM’s first PC in 1981 Model 5150 PC (Personal Computer) sold for $3000 to $6000. It ran with a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 microprocessor and used Microsoft’s MS-DOS operating system. The Apple Macintosh had its debut in 1984. It features a simple, graphical interface, uses the 8-MHz, 32-bit Motorola 68000 CPU, and has a built-in 9-inch B/W screen.
In the late 1970’s, Fairchild developed an image dissector as part of a MSc project at the University of Canada It was decided to build a camera that produced digital data. The All-Sky camera used was based on the first commercially available CCD, the Fairchild 100 x 100 pixel CCD of 1973. The charge coupled device (CCD) was viewed as a new and promising advancement in imaging technology. Development was completed in 1979. Fairchild experimented with a CCD (Charged Coupled Device), a light sensitive chip used for image gathering to create a color pattern laid down on the sensor pixels, using a colour mask like RG BG (Red, Green, Blue and Green). The extra green is used to create contrast in the image. The sensor is basically an electronic device capable of reacting to the impact of photons, and converting them to an electrical current. The A to D converter converts the analogue signal to a digital file or signal.
In 1981, the University of Calgary Canada ASI Science Team constructed the All-Sky Camera, first operational digital camera that provided digital data rather than analog data, making it the first documented digital camera. It was used to photograph auroras. The development of computer aided control software, and image processing software were invaluable for the future technology of computer and digital photography. The sensors most commonly used in todays technology are CCD, CMD, CMOS, CCD. CCD are analog sensors, the digitizing happens when the electrons are passed through an A to D converter. The sensor is now the current choice for digital and consumer imaging devices like camcorders, scanners, and digital cameras. CMOS sensors found to be more economical could eventually replace CCD in many digital cameras.
The Canon RC-701 of 1984 to 1986 a professional color electronic still video camera styled as the Sony 1981 Mavica was introduced at the Los Angeles Olympics in July of 1984. It was aimed mainly for the journalist market. Canon conducted a trial of the RC-701 and an analog transmitter . The images were transmited back to Japan via phone lines in less than 30 minutes. They were then printed in the Yomiuri newspaper. The complete RC-701 system consisting of the camera, a player/recorder, a printer, a laminator, and a unit for phone transmission cost about $27,000. The CCD was 6.6mm x 8.8mm with 187,200 pixels.
Digital cameras started making their appearance in 1989. One of the first was the Sony ProMavica MVC-5000. The camera worked as follows: it recorded images as magnetic impulses on a compact 2-inch still-video floppy disk. The images were captured on the disk by using two CCD (charge-coupled device) chips. In 1990 Logitech Fotoman, Dycam Model 1 B&W digicam was introduced as the the world’s first completely digital consumer camera. It stored 32 compressed images on internal 1 MB Ram 1/3-inch, 376 x 240 pixel CCD at 256 gray levels. In Tiff or Pict 2 format it also had a 8mm fixed-focus lens, Shutter 1/30 to 1/1000 second, built-in flash and digitizing hardware in the camera that was attached to a PC to transfer images. In 1990 Kodak introduced the user friendly Photo CD’s as a system of storing photographic images on CD and then viewing them on a computer.
In 1991 Kodak introduced their first professional digital system called DCS (Digital Camera System), followed with the DCS 100, the first digital camera. It is based on the Nikon F3 body with a special focusing screen and a specific motor drive. This motor allows 2.5 images per second. The focusing screen was marked to show the field of view of the CCD and the areas (in gray) around. The exposure index of the DCS was 100 ISO. The CCD measured 1.3 megapixel (1024 x 1280 pixels.) The DSC 100 was followed in 1993 by the DCS 200, in five variants based on the Nikon 8008 body. In 1994 Kodak developed for Associated Press a new model, the NC 2000 built on the Nikon N90 body. This camera used the same CCD chip as the DCS 100 except color filtration of the CCD elements were taken from the DCS 220. A Kodak NC 2000 E model contained a SCSI connection to download images direct to a computer.
Digital Cameras for the Mass Market and Professional
In 1994 Apple introduced the compact Quicktake 100 as the first truly digital still camera for the consumer mass-market. Up to eight 640 x 480 resolution images could be stored in an internal memory and then connected to a personal computer via a serial cable to download those images and then manipulate them. It had a fixed-focus 50mm lens and Built-in flash.
SHORT HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY – ©1999 by William B Marder
We owe the name “Photography” to Sir John Herschel, who first used the term in 1839, the year the photographic process became public. The word Photography is derived from the Greek words for light and writing.
Before mentioning the stages that led to the development of photography, there is one amazing, quite uncanny prediction made by a man called de la Roche (1729-1774) in a work called Giphantie. In this imaginary tale, it was possible to capture images from nature, on a canvas, which had been coated with a sticky substance. This surface, so the tale goes, would not only provide a mirror image on the sticky canvas, but would remain on it. After it had been dried in the dark the image would remain permanent. The author would not have known how true this tale would be, only a few decades after his death.
There are two distinct scientific processes that combine to make photography possible. It is somewhat surprising that photography was not invented earlier than the 1830s, because these processes had been known for quite some time. It was not until the two distinct scientific processes had been put together that photography came into being.
The first of these processes was optical. The Camera Obscura (dark room) had been in existence for at least four hundred years. There is a drawing, dated 1519, of a Camera Obscura by Leonardo da Vinci; about this same period its use as an aid to drawing was being advocated.
The second process was chemical. For hundreds of years before photography was invented, people had been aware, for example, that some colors are bleached in the sun, but they had made little distinction between heat, air and light.
* In the sixteen hundreds Robert Boyle, a founder of the Royal Society, had reported that silver chloride turned dark under exposure, but he appeared to believe that it was caused by exposure to the air, rather than to light.
* Angelo Sala, in the early seventeenth century, noticed that powdered nitrate of silver is blackened by the sun.
* In 1727 Johann Heinrich Schulze discovered that certain liquids change color when exposed to light.
* At the beginning of the nineteenth century Thomas Wedgwood was conducting experiments; he had successfully captured images, but his silhouettes could not survive, as there was no known method of making the image permanent.
Niépce, using material that hardened on exposure to light, produced the first successful picture in June/July 1827. This picture required an exposure of eight hours.
On 4 January 1829 Niépce agreed to go into partnership with Louis Daguerre. Niépce died only four years later, but Daguerre continued to experiment. Soon he had discovered a way of developing photographic plates, a process which greatly reduced the exposure time from eight hours down to half an hour. He also discovered that an image could be made permanent by immersing it in salt.
Following a report on this invention by Paul Delaroche, a leading scholar of the day, the French government bought the rights to it in July 1839. Details of the process were made public on August 19, 1839, and Daguerre named it the Daguerreotype.
The announcement that the Daguerreotype “requires no knowledge of drawing….” and that “anyone may succeed…. and perform as well as the author of the invention” was greeted with enormous interest, and “Daguerreomania” became a craze overnight. A writer called Gaudin, who was present the day that the announcement was made gives an interesting account of these days.
However, not all people welcomed this exciting invention; some pundits viewed in quite sinister terms. A newspaper report in the Leipzig City Advertiser stated:
“The wish to capture evanescent reflections is not only impossible… but the mere desire alone, the will to do so, is blasphemy. God created man in His own image, and no man- made machine may fix the image of God. Is it possible that God should have abandoned His eternal principles, and allowed a Frenchman… to give to the world an invention of the Devil?”
At that time some artists saw in photography a threat to their livelihood (see Artists and Photography), and some even prophesied that painting would cease to exist.
The Daguerreotype process, though good, was expensive, and each picture was a once-only affair. That, to many, would not have been regarded as a disadvantage; it meant that the owner of the portrait could be certain that he had a piece of art that could not be duplicated. If however two copies were required, the only way of coping with this was to use two cameras side by side. There was, therefore, a growing need for a means of copying pictures, which daguerreotypes could never satisfy. Different, and in a sense a rival to the Daguerreotype, was the Calotype (also called Salt Print or Talbotype after its inventor.) Invented by William Henry Fox Talbot, Talbot’s process provided the answer to the problem of making duplicate copies. His paper to the Royal Society of London, dated January 31,1839, actually precedes the paper by Daguerre; it was entitled “Some account of the Art of Photogenic drawing, or the process by which natural objects may be made to delineate themselves without the aid of the artist’s pencil.” He wrote
“How charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durably and remain fixed on the paper!”
The earliest paper negative we know of was produced in August 1835; it depicts the now famous window at Lacock Abbey, his home. The negative is small (1″ square), and poor in quality, compared with the striking images produced by the Daguerreotype process. By 1840, however, Talbot had made some significant improvements.
Compared with Daguerreotypes the quality of the early Calotypes was somewhat inferior. However, the great advantage of Talbot’s method was that an unlimited number of positive prints could be made. In fact, today’s photography is based on the same principle, whereas by comparison the Daguerreotype, for all its quality, was a blind alley.
The mushrooming of photographic establishments reflects photography’s growing popularity; from a mere handful in the mid 1840s the number had grown to 66 in 1855, and to 147 two years later. In London, a favorite place to have your likeness taken was Regent Street where, in the peak in the mid ‘sixties there were no less than forty-two photographic establishments! In America the growth was just as dramatic: in 1850 there were 77 photographic galleries in New York alone. The demand for photographs was such that Charles Baudelaire (1826-1867), a well known poet of the period and a critic of the medium, commented
“our squalid society has rushed, Narcissus to a man, to gloat at its trivial image on a scrap of metal.”
Talbot’s photography was on paper, and inevitably the imperfections of the paper were printed alongside with the image, when a positive was made. Several experimented with glass as a basis for negatives, but the problem was to make the silver solution stick to the shiny surface of the glass. In 1848 a cousin of Nicephore Niépce, Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor, perfected a process of coating a glass plate with white of egg sensitised with potassium iodide, and washed with an acid solution of silver nitrate. This new (albumen) process made for very fine detail and much higher quality. However, it was very slow, hence the fact that photographs produced on this substance were architecture and landscapes; portraiture was simply not possible.
Progress in this new art was slow in England, compared with other countries. Both Daguerre and Fox Talbot were partly responsible, the former for having rather slyly placed a patent on his invention whilst the French government had made it freely available to the world, the latter for his law-suits in connection with his patents.
In 1851 a new era in photography was introduced by Frederick Scott Archer, who introduced the Collodion process. This process was much faster than conventional methods, reducing exposure times to two or three seconds, thus opening up new horizons in photography.
Prices for daguerreotypes varied, but in general would cost about a 50 cents, which would be the weekly wage for many workers. The collodion process, however, was much cheaper; prints could be made for as little as 5 cents.
A further lift was given to photography for the masses by the introduction of carte-de-visite photographs by Andre Disdéri. This developed into a mania, though it was relatively short-lived.
The collodion process required that the coating, exposure and development of the image should be done while the plate was still wet. Another process developed by Archer was named the Ambrotype, which was a direct positive.
In the United States, the carte-de-visite played second fiddle to ever-cheaper variations on the daguerreotype theme. The the Ambrotype which was nothing more than a glass negative backed with black material, which enabled it to appear as a positive image. Patented in 1854, the Ambrotype was made, packaged, and sold in portrait studios as the daguerreotype had been, but at a lower cost. Even less expensive was the Tintype (Melanotype), patented two years later, which substituted an iron plate for glass. During the American Civil War (1861-1865) tintypes were the most readily available form of location portraiture. Tintype photographers often worked from the back of horse-drawn wagons, photographing pioneer families and Union soldiers.
The wet collodion process, though in its time a great step forward, required a considerable amount of equipment on location. There were various attempts to preserve exposed plates in wet collodion, for development at a more convenient time and place, but these preservatives lessened the sensitivity of the material. It was clear, then, that a dry method was required.
The next major step forward came in 1871, when Dr. Richard Maddox discovered a way of using Gelatin (which had been discovered only a few years before) instead of glass as a basis for the photographic plate. This led to the development of the Dry Plate Process. Dry plates could be developed much more quickly than with any previous technique. Initially it was very insensitive compared with existing processes, but it was refined to the extent that the idea of factory-made photographic material was now becoming possible.
The introduction of the dry-plate process marked a turning point. No longer did one need the cumbersome wet-plates, no longer was a darkroom tent needed. One was very near the day that pictures could be taken without the photographer needing any specialized knowledge.
Celluloid had been invented in the early eighteen-sixties, and John Carbutt persuaded a manufacturer to produce very thin celluloid as a backing for sensitive material. George Eastman is particularly remembered for introducing flexible film in 1884. Four years later he introduced the box camera, and photography could now reach a much greater number of people.
Other names of significance include Herman Vogel, who developed a means whereby film could become sensitive to green light, and Eadweard Muybridge who paved the way for motion picture photography.
Popular in the Victorian times was Stereoscopic Photography, which reproduced images in three dimensions. It is a process whose popularity waxed and waned – as it does now – reaching its heights in the mid-Victorian era.
At present photography is evolving into Digital Photography from the many previous processes into a new electronic phase utilizing digital cameras, a computer with archival ink jet printers and paper.
Carbon-Pigment Printing Process © 2000 Bill Marder
Although I have been a traditional darkroom printer for years, technology has now reached the point where, in my view, the latest digital printing processes for display prints have surpassed the silver print.
How long will carbon pigments last? Well, everything ultimately fades in sunlight, but in comparative fade testing, the carbon pigments do better than pigments rated at 200 years of display life. In dark storage they do even better. Carbon pigments on cotton should be more stable than the traditional wet darkroom prints due to the buffered paper that has never had to deal with acidic processing chemicals like the wet darkroom prints. Carbon pigment writing inks have been found that are over 30 centuries old. The first image-forming use of carbon pigments may be in the Paleolithic Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave in France. They look rather good after 30,000 years. (I’d be more than pleased if my prints last even half that long!)
Most serious B&W printers avoid color inksets. Trying to get a neutral print from three color inks is essentially impossible. Unwanted color tints and cross-overs are usually unavoidable. Also, carbon pigments are significantly more lightfast than color pigments. Although, the color pigments are far more stable than dyes, which the above inksets avoid completely.
However, many prefer matte paper such as Epson Enhanced Matte. This is an excellent paper for non-archival purposes. For archival printing, buffered cotton paper that is not only acid-free but also optical-brightener-free is what I recommend. I currently favor the Epson Scrapbook paper. This is sold in rolls under the name “UltraSmooth,” which is what I have on my large-format Epson 1280 printer. Premier Imaging also sells the paper as its PremierArt Fine Art Hot Press paper. (See Premier Imaging.)
Permajet will soon released its “Alpha Natural White” paper, which is a bit warmer than the Scrapbook/UltraSmooth/PremeirArt paper. It may, however, be the best paper I’ve yet tested. It combines a cotton base with a non-flaking, OBA free coating that gets a very good dmax.
“Carbon on cotton” is now my medium of choice for archival B&W images. This combination of carbon image-forming substance and acid-free cotton substrate should be about as archival as any medium ever has been. Our civilization will be lucky to last as long.
Buyers of carbon or pigment produced ink jet prints should be confident that the prints will last, that the ink won’t fade or the paper crumble. Buyers are interested to learn that my black and white prints are actually composed of real grays as well as black, and that different color pigments have different characteristics.
Digital Photography- Art and Computers without a Darkroom
© 2000 Bill (William) Marder
With the new millennium, film and their cameras are beginning to be obsolete. Photography and art are slowly being diffused into a thin line separating computer generated art and painting by hand. The production process now involves either a photograph taken with a digital camera or a work created by a graphic artist in a computer. Both the Artist and Photographer now have the ability to create art on the computer utilizing all the digital techniques of the computer. The Photographer will have the dual ability to create a work of art or an exact rendering from his photograph. The Artist and Photographer will both have the ability to have an unlimited source of computer generated techniques available at their fingertips. Art and Photography can now be produced utilizing the archival inks, papers and canvas. The Artist and Photographer in the future will be able to create a work of art that will be indistinguishable from the original hand brushed painting. The meeting of “Fotofusion© 2000” in Florida January 25-29th 2000, brought together the leading photographers and graphic artists of the world to discuss teach and demonstrate the fusion of photography and art.
With the arrival of electronic methods this does not end or belittle the previous work of the photographer or artist nor solve the age old dispute of straight photography, or pictorial photography. What difference does it make. Now with the computer you can easily do both. Does that mean your use of Digital Photography or a Computer is not Art or Photography. Of course not. A true artist or photographer realizes it is only a means to the end. Only great artists can make great paintings or great photographers can make great photographs. No matter what method is used, process or technique the artist or the photographer must know his tools of the trade, composition, shades of light, dark and texture. The artist or photographer will always finish his creation from his mind. The final result must glow with beauty. The final determination as to what is a salable photograph or a work of art will be determined not by the artist, photographer, or critic, but by the individual purchasing the item. Two separate individuals will choose differently based on their backgrounds and personalities. With time and changes in taste certain art forms will be more desirable allowing recognition to older styles of art.
Using the Right Terminology for Digital Photography
Bill Marder 2002
There should be a way to identify digital composites. If we don’t address the fundamental issues this brings up and are willing to continue to present and accept composites and enhanced work in the computer as photographs, we run the real risk of having both digital imaging and photography rejected by the general public.
As this situation continues, it would seem that we have made very little progress, choosing to simply return to the golden age of pictorialism. We are going to re-fight the battle that raged in the 1930’s. If you will remember the history of photography, in the early part of the 20th century, the pictorialists held that “any trick, contrivance or convenience (was) acceptable in the production of an image as long as it served the final product.” This brought a reaction from such noted photographers and groups as Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Group f*64, etc. And it seems that those practicing digital imaging are in agreement with that pictorialist philosophy. There are some things we have to do to correct this situation. First, we have to stop calling digital imaging- the assembly of an image in a computer- “digital photography.” Digital imaging is not photography and photography is certainly not digital imaging. While there is some crossover here- we can present photographs in a digital environment and we can present digital images through photo-style printing- there are a number of major differences. This is not to say one is “better” than the other, just that they are different.
Second, we have to begin to differentiate between digital imaging and photography from a fundamental standpoint. This is slightly different from simply not calling digital imaging digital photography. It is making the differentiation between the scenes as we saw it and a scene, as we would like it to be. Photography is about the subject, what the photographer saw in that subject as it existed in reality and what was so compelling that it had to be photographed. To alter, add or delete elements of that subject is to present the subject as the photographer wanted to see it, not as it existed in its reality. Digital imaging is about reforming and reshaping the subject, as we would have liked to see it.
Third, we have to develop a way to identify those digitally assembled images as digital images. A small emblem or logo could be either floated on the image or printed with it (the background color could be made transparent so it would be unobtrusive as possible) or it could be printed with a caption line:
If we don’t take steps now to set this differentiation, it is possible that photography will simply become fodder for the digital imagers. At its extreme, a “digital photographer” could get a number of stock images, a copy of PhotoShop and assemble his photographs without ever having to make a single exposure. While this does seem extreme, there has been an explosion in the “royalty-free, restriction-free” stock photo market.
This is not to say that a photograph can’t be made with an all-digital system. It is the presentation of the photograph that is the key here. If the scene is presented as it was originally photographed by the photographer with only enough processing to make it look as good on the screen as possible, it still falls in the realm of photography. If there are elements added or deleted that alter the scene as it was photographed, then it is a digital image. Again, this is not to say one is “better” that the other, simply different.
While you may feel that this applies only to digital composites, it certainly also applies to those time-honored darkroom techniques like negative sandwiching, air brushing, pin registration mask printing, etc. These were used in the past but have fallen out of favor with the development of sophisticated digital imaging systems.
Finally, this is certainly not an anti-digital statement and should not be taken that way. Digital imaging certainly has its place in the world of visual expression and needs to start establishing itself apart from photography. If it doesn’t, both digital imaging and photography will suffer.
Always remember Digital Photography is only a newer process of the many different processes invented since the birth of photography in the 1840s.
PRE-RAPHAELITES- IMPRESSIONISM & PICTORIALISM IN PHOTOGRAPHY
© Bill Marder -2004
The Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood was founded in 1848, and consisted of a group of mainly British artists, all in their twenties, who rejected the neoclassical style which at that time was in vogue, wishing to return to what they felt to be purer Early Renaissance art. Their name comes from the fact that they believed that Raphael had introduced the art they so disliked. Though the movement lasted only ten years or so, the impact they had upon art in Britain at the time was considerable.
The movement had in the main three phases:
* realist – where the emphasis was upon historical and religious paintings (eg Rossetti, Hunt)
* “truth to nature” – where the stress was upon contemporary scenes, almost of surreal detail;
* a fascination for the Middle Ages, leading to painting of Arturian legend, and mediaeval themes and styles.
They tended to look to the past for their inspiration, and thus their pictures had religious, mythological or historical bases, particularly mediaeval themes. Their message appeared to be that truth was ugly, that to beautify it to make “high art” dress people up – contrive the situations. Initially they all exhibited pictures anonymously, all using the same initials PRB. When a few years later the names of the painters became known, they were quite harshly taken to task by Charles Dickens,
Amongst their number are names such as Holman Hunt – who painted “The Light of the World” (1853), and Dante Rossetti. John Ruskin actively promoted this trend, and though the group disbanded in 1855, its ideas continued for quite some time.
Among those who one might suggest were influenced by the Pre- Raphaelite movement were Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Henry Peach Robinson and Francis Bedford. It would be wrong to imagine that a school of Pre-Raphaelite photography existed, but rather that a number of photographers shared some of the sentiments typical of those who were in the Brotherhood.
This movement developed from naturalistic painting, particularly landscape, a central feature of 19th Century art. It carried the realist landscape painting of Courbet and others a stage further, the accent being on colour and light in rapid brush- strokes.
The term itself comes from a Monet painting entitled “Impression: Sunrise”, painted in 1872, a picture of Le Havre in the mist. A malicious critic, Louis Leroy, dubbed his work “impressionist”, using the term in a derogatory way, but others warmed to Monet’s style and happily adopted the name; from then onwards Impressionism was a term representing an experience arising from a fleeting impression, rather than laborious detail. Their work is characterised by a variety of brush- strokes, and by high-key colours.
Other impressionists in the art world included Degas, Renoir and Pissarro.
Sir Ernst Gombrich, the art historian, commenting upon the impressionists, writes:
“They discovered that if we look at nature in the open, we do not see individual objects each with its own colour but rather a bright medley of cones which blend in our eye or really in our mind.”
What brought these artists together was not their strategies or general approach, for they were widely different; what united them was an intense dislike for the art establishment of the time, and repeated rejections by the Salon jury in France.
They looked with a measure of contempt at the current establishment; it is said that Sir Joshua Reynolds was nicknamed “Sir Sloshua” by them.
Photography also had its impressionists. In May 1874 a group of them in Paris began to exhibit photographs at the studio belonging to Nadar. The group continued in being for the next twelve years, and work was exhibited by, among others, Cezanne and Gaugin. Another photographer who was influenced by the impressionists was George Davidson, who contended that a sharp photograph was not always to be striven for. For one of his photographs, “The Onion field” (1890) he used rough-surfaced paper and a soft-focus technique.
The modern usage of this term may give a misleading picture of the movement as it arose in the second half of the nineteenth century; in any case, like the all-embracing word “art” it is a most elusive, intangible, and highly subjective term. In modern parlance it is sometimes taken to suggest conservatism, and the unwillingness to explore new approaches. In its original meaning anything that put the finished picture first and the subject second was pictorialism. Given such a meaning, pictorialism by no means excluded more modern trends; any photograph that stressed atmosphere or viewpoint rather than the subject would come under this category.
By the second half of the nineteenth century the novelty of capturing images was beginning to wear off, and some people were now beginning to question whether the camera, as it was then being used, was in fact too accurate and too detailed in what it recorded. This, coupled with the fact that painting enjoyed a much higher status than this new mechanistic process, caused some photographers to adopt new techniques which, as they saw it, made photography more of an art form. These new techniques came also to be known as High-Art photography.
In effect, the term Pictorialism is used to describe photographs in which the actual scene depicted is of less importance than the artistic quality of the image. Pictorialists would be more concerned with the aesthetics and, sometimes, the emotional impact of the image, rather than what actually was in front of their camera.
Because pictorialism was seen as artistic photography, one would not be surprised that current styles of art would be reflected in their work; as impressionism was in vogue at the time, many photographs have more than a passing resemblance to paintings in this style.
Examples of this approach include combination printing, the use of focus, the manipulation of the negative, and the use of techniques such as gum bichromate, which greatly lessened the detail and produced a more artistic image.
Among the major workers who are associated with this approach to photography were Oscar Rejlander, Henry Peach Robinson (who wrote a major book entitled “Pictorial Effect in Photography”), Robert Demachy, and George Davidson.
Terminology (Categories) In The Digital Era – ©By Bill (William) Marder 2004
Since the entry of the computer a new era has emerged for both Art & Photography. A thin line has been crossed allowing various methods of both Art & Photography to be produced with the computer and elaborate new software.
We should easily be able to distinguish these new methods and they should be categorized properly. This is especially important at Art & Photography contests and shows. Artists, dealers, art galleries, art shows museums, critics and collectors, not to mention the general art-interested public, have a stake in clarifying the terms simply and educating the public in describing these works.
Digital Photography Process
If it is produced with a digital camera and the computer is substituted for the darkroom and it looks like a photograph we can only call this a new process of the many other past processes in photography. Keep in mind Alfred Stieglitz and many others used Vaseline on the lens and other procedures in the darkroom as dodging, burning etc as well as adding clouds etc. Man Ray’s experimental work with Rayographs, Solarization, infrared etc. was still defined as photography using Darkroom methods without or without a camera that can be made today with the aid of the computer. We can still call this photography with the description of the type.
Additional Art Processes With The Computer
As we have classifications in Art (Oil, Watercolor, Acrylics etc,) we have to do the same in the digital era. At present some of the below processes are entered in competions with Photography or under Art. It is not fair to deceive the public. A separate category should be given for these other processes as explained below. If there are only a few submitted we can call them Mixed Media or another category as Graphics/Computer Art. An artist or photographer knowledgeable with these various methods can only determine these categories. It is important that the artist is aware of the importance to categorize their work properly.
Digital Enhanced (Altered) Photography
Here, the digital process aided with the computer can alter the image, significantly, to where the finished product cannot be recognized as originally starting out as a photograph. Many times photographs from magazines or the Internet as well as photos by the photographer are used in these enhancements. This is a technique that can be used by almost any amateur or professional with some computer knowledge to produce both art and photography.
Digital Drawing (Pencil, Sketch, Charcoal etc.)
Artists can creatively input their ideas directly into the computer, from typically with an electronic stylus and mouse and a graphics Wacom tablet and related software. It is also possible to transform a photograph or painting into a drawing or create an original drawing or sketch in pencil, with charcoal effects etc, utilizing Photoshop, Painter IX etc. on to your computer monitor.
Here Art and photo productions are merging together and creating a new media Digital Painting. Now, many traditional painters are using photography and projection as the base for painting, instead of drawing, and many are hiding this fact. Digital Painting is already here, and it’s changing the future of the photo and art industries. Digital Painting can add artist color palettes along with many other techniques. It makes its biggest impact and offers its most rewarding opportunities when used for photo art creation. The final printed result although it can be printed on canvas or art paper will only give you a flat version of an oil, watercolor, etc. If necessary it can be turned afterwards into Mixed media as below by adding oil, acrylics etc. on top as described below in “Digital Mixed Media.”
Digital Hybrid Process
This category starts where digital drawing/painting leaves off and can
combine all the previous groups. It also includes digital imagery that takes advantage of 3D modeling software, fractal mathematics, “machine art,” Algorithmic art, Automatic filters, plus Alternative photo process, silk screen digital etc. Many are purely mechanical, utilizing the computer to almost any software as in paint by numbers. Almost anyone can do this and become an artist.
Digital Mixed Media
Sometimes misinterpreted with above if this is completed in one step. It is Mixed Media only if the digital print is only one step as part of the process and it is then printed out on canvas or paper with additional work on the print afterwards. It can be combined or placed on top as painting is today with almost any other art or craft method: example acrylics, gel, or oils by brush or palette knife.
Using the new tools of the digital era, along with traditional oil, acrylics, watercolor etc. the differences between a traditional painter and digital artist photographer have become minimized. The photographer and artist through Mixed Media can now easily cross over and erase the thin line that separates Photography and Painting. A Painting can be created on canvas. If we look back this same method used as early as the 1850s by Photographer Matthew Brady and famous artists to project a photograph on to canvas as a guide and then to put oil paints on top. These are now hanging in our National Portrait Gallery in Washington D. C. and are designated as oil paintings.
Giclée’s or Iris Prints have been misinterpreted no matter what it is called. They do not belong in any category. They are only digital reproductions printed on paper in a printer from digital images saved on a computer that come from the categories suggested above. The original already exists in tangible form the computer.
This is basically what giclées are, and they can either be self-printed or output with the help of a print-for-pay service. For the artist it can be a reproduction of his artwork. For the photographer it can be his final print in Black and White or Color. This can be made on a large variety of art or regular papers or on canvas. They can be printed with dye inks that will eventually fade or pigment Inks watered down or carbon pigments that are archival and long lasting.
Photography- History- Processes – Relation to Art In Our Present Digital Age
© by Bill (William) Marder 2006
Briefly the technical details began with two distinct scientific processes that combined to make photography possible. It is somewhat surprising that photography was not invented earlier than the 1830s, because these processes had been known for quite some time. It was not until the two distinct scientific processes had been put together that photography came into being. The first of these processes was optical. The Camera Obscura (dark room) had been in existence for at least four hundred years. There is a drawing, dated 1519, of a Camera Obscura by Leonardo da Vinci. About this same period its use as an aid to drawing was being advocated. The second process was chemical.
For hundreds of years before photography was invented, people had been aware, for example, that some colors bleached in the sun, but they had made little distinction between heat, air and light. In the sixteen hundreds Robert Boyle, a founder of the Royal Society, had reported that silver chloride turned dark under exposure, but he appeared to believe that it was caused by exposure to the air, rather than to light. In the early seventeenth century Angelo Sala, noticed that powdered nitrate of silver is blackened by the sun. In 1727 Johann Heinrich Schulze discovered that certain liquids change color when exposed to light. At the beginning of the nineteenth century Thomas Wedgwood was conducting experiments and had successfully captured images, but his silhouettes could not survive, as there was no known method fixing the image to make it permanent.
The first successful picture was produced in June/July 1827 by Niépce, using a material that hardened on exposure to light. This picture required an exposure of eight hours. On 4 January 1829 Niépce agreed to go into partnership with Louis Daguerre. Niépce died only four years later, but Daguerre continued to experiment. Soon he had discovered a way of developing copper silver coated photographic plate, a process which greatly reduced the exposure time from eight hours down to half an hour. He also discovered that an image could be made permanent by immersing it in salt. Following a report on this invention by Paul Delaroche, a leading scholar of the day, the French government bought the rights to it in July 1839. Details of the process were made public on August 19, 1839, and Daguerre named it the Daguerreotype.
The invention of the Daguerreotype caused considerable concern to many artists, who saw their means of livelihood coming to an end. Delaroche is credited with claiming that painting was now dead. It is said that Sir William Ross, on his death-bed in 1860, commented sadly that “it was all up with future miniature painting.” It is also claimed, but with scanty evidence, that artist Turner, looking at an early daguerreotype, commented that he was glad he had had his day!
Charles Baudelaire, whilst reviewing a photographic exhibition in 1859, clearly saw the need to put photography firmly in its place: “If photography is allowed to supplement art in some of its functions, it will soon have supplanted or corrupted it altogether….its true duty..is to be the servant of the sciences and arts – but the very humble servant, like printing or shorthand, which have neither created nor supplemented literature…. “Let it rescue from oblivion those tumbling ruins, those books, prints and manuscripts which time is devouring, precious things whose form is dissolving and which demand a place in the archives of our memory – it will be thanked and applauded. But if it is allowed to encroach upon the domain of the… imaginary, upon anything whose value depends solely upon the addition of something of a man’s soul, then it will be so much the worse for us.” Some painters dubbed the new invention “the foe-to-graphic art.” Certainly those artists who specialized in miniature portraits suffered; in 1810 over 200 miniatures were exhibited at the Royal Academy; this rose to 300 in 1830, but thirty years later only sixty-four were exhibited, and in 1870 only thirty-three. A number of artists, began to see the writing on the wall. They turned to photography for their livelihood. Others cashed in on the fact that the images were then in monochrome, and began coloring them in. A further blow to miniature portraiture was to come when the Carte-de-Visite craze began to develop. By 1857 an Art Journal was reporting that portrait photography was becoming a public nuisance. In that same journal Francis Frith claimed that photography “has already almost entirely superseded the craft of the miniature painter, and is on the point of touching, with an irresistible hand, several other branches of skilled art.”
In 1865 Claudet, by then a respected photographer, came to the defence of photography, following a blistering article in a French journal: “One cannot but acknowledge that there are arts which are on their way out and that it is photography which has given them the death-blow! Why are there no longer any miniaturists? For the very simple reason that those who want miniatures find that photography does the job better and instead of portraits more or less accurate where form and expression are concerned, it gives perfectly exact resemblances that at least please the heart and satisfy the memory.” Though photography was seen by some as the invention that was killing art, painters began to utilize photography in their art. By employing photography the number of sittings required could be reduced or even eliminated. Joshua Reynolds used up to fifty sittings for portraits and with photography reduced the sittings to twelve. The problem is that few painters would readily admit to using photography as an aid, almost as though this were a form of cheating! Well known artists such as, Degas, Delacroix, Eakins, Manet, Tissot, Corot and others purchased cameras to assist them in their paintings.
From the 1850s through the 1890s photography was conceived of as a substitute for drawing and painting. The earliest critical standards applied to photographs were, naturally the same as those used for judging art, and it was accepted that the camera would be of great use to artists because it could catch details more quickly and with greater fidelity than the eye and hand; in other words, at its birth photography was viewed as a shortcut to art.
New Techniques and Processes were rapidly invented following the Daguerreotype process. The Daguerreotype process, though good, was expensive, and each picture was a once-only affair. That, to many, would not have been regarded as a disadvantage; it meant that the owner of the portrait could be certain that he had a piece of art that could not be duplicated. If however two copies were required, the only way of coping with this was to use two cameras side by side. There was, therefore, a growing need for a means of copying pictures which daguerreotypes could never satisfy. Different, and in a sense a rival to the Daguerreotype, was the Calotype (also called Salt Print or Talbottype after its inventor.) Invented by William Henry Fox Talbot, Talbot’s process provided the answer to the problem of making duplicate copies. The earliest paper negative we know of was produced in August 1835; it depicts the now famous window at Lacock Abbey, Talbot’s home. Compared with Daguerreotypes the quality of the early Calotypes was somewhat inferior. However, the great advantage of Talbot’s method was that an unlimited number of positive prints could be made. In fact, today’s photography is based on the same principle. 1848 a cousin of Nicephore Niépce, Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor, perfected a process of coating a glass plate with white of egg sensitised with potassium iodide, and washed with an acid solution of silver nitrate. This new (albumen) process made for very fine detail and much higher quality. However, it was very slow, hence the fact that photographs produced on this substance were architecture and landscapes; portraiture was simply not possible. In 1851 a new era in photography was introduced by Frederick Scott Archer, who introduced the Collodion process. This process was much faster than conventional methods, reducing exposure times to two or three seconds, thus opening up new horizons in photography. The Ambrotype process which was nothing more than a glass negative backed with black material, that enabled it to appear as a positive image was patented in 1854 and became popular in America as less expensive than the daguerreotype. Even less expensive was the Tintype (Melanotype), patented two years later, which substituted an iron plate for glass. During the American Civil War (1861-1865) tintypes were the most readily available process for portraiture.
The wet collodion process, though in its time a great step forward, required a considerable amount of equipment on location. There were various attempts to preserve exposed plates in wet collodion, for development at a more convenient time and place, but these preservatives lessened the sensitivity of the material. It was clear, then, that a dry method was required. The next major step forward came in 1871, when Dr. Richard Maddox discovered a way of using Gelatin (which had been discovered only a few years before) instead of glass as a basis for the photographic plate. This led to the development of the Dry Plate Process. Dry plates could be developed much more quickly than with any previous technique. Initially it was very insensitive compared with existing processes, but it was refined to the extent that the idea of factory-made photographic material was now becoming possible. The introduction of the dry-plate process marked a turning point. No longer did one need the cumbersome wet-plates, no longer was a darkroom tent needed.
Celluloid had been invented in the early eighteen-sixties, and John Carbutt persuaded a manufacturer to produce very thin celluloid as a backing for sensitive material. George Eastman of Eastman Kodak is particularly remembered for introducing flexible film in 1884. Four years later he introduced the box camera, and photography could now reach both the amateur and professional and a greater number of people.
Faster film and improvements in cameras and invention of a number of different processes brought photography into the 20th century. Until the present time, chemical means and a darkroom were needed to reproduce these images. Along with the equipment the photographer has always left his mark in the world of art. First imitating the artist then expanding and utilizing his own techniques- always experimenting. Styles and movements in photography was as numerous as those in painting. The artist employed oil, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, etc. different mediums were utilized as well as the new techniques and styles of Impressionism, Abstract, Pointillism, Cubism etc. The photographer determined to express himself by utilizing a combination of artistic processes as well as conventional ones. These processes under the varied names of carbro, bromoil,platinum, sepia and color tone printing dye transfer, collotype, cibachrome, diffusion, etc. With time and changes in certain art forms one will always be more desirable than another. The photographer utilized all chemical processes in the darkroom as well as his in his camera so as to manipulate his final prints by dodging, use of filters, vaseline on his lens, superimposing etc. to assist him to achieve certain effects. Photographers since the beginning have always expressed his art through various processes, lighting his subject, and in the darkroom.
The term Impression comes from painting entitled “Impression: Sunrise”, painted in 1872, by Monet of Le Havre in the mist. An art critic used dubbed the name Impression as a derogatory word. Others realized the beauty of the term as representing an experience arising from a fleeting impression, rather than laborious detail. Other painters in this medium were Degas, Pissarro , Renoir etc.
From the 1850s through the 1890s photography was conceived as a substitute for drawing and painting. The earliest critical standards to photography were similar to those in painting. The camera was accepted by the artist because it could catch detail more quickly than the eye, hand and brush. The earliest pictorlists in photography began with the the early daguerreotypists and lin the works of Julia Margaret Cameron who utilized Rembrant type lighting to give their photographs an artistic style. Pictorialism was used to allow the photographer his own form of impressionism. Pictorialism is used to describe photographs in which the actual scene depicted is of less importance than the artistic quality of the image. Pictorialists would be more concerned with the aesthetics and, sometimes, the emotional impact of the image, rather than what actually was in front of their camera.
In May 1874 a group of Pictorialists in Paris began to exhibit photographs at the studio belonging to Nadar. The group continued in existence for the next twelve years, and their work was exhibited with artists Cezanne and Gaugin. Another photographer who was influenced by the impressionists was George Davidson, who contended that a sharp photograph was not always to be striven for. In one of his photographs, “The Onion field” (1890) he used rough-surfaced paper and a soft-focus technique. By the 1870s it was accepted practice for the photographer was to pose subjects carefully in the studio and to retouch and tint photographs to make them more like paintings. An interesting parallel to this exists in the practice of Indian photographers from the time photography was introduced into India in the 1840s. As revealed U.S. exhibition, “Through Indian Eyes” (1982), they posed their subjects and manipulated their photographic portraits to make them resemble Indian miniature paintings. They manipulated the final photograph to put in ornate backgrounds. Examples of this in approach in pictorialism included combination printing, the use of focus, the manipulation of the negative, and the use of techniques such as gum bichromate, which greatly lessened the detail and produced a more artistic image. Among the major workers who were associated with this approach to photography were Oscar Rejlander, Henry Peach Robinson (who wrote a major book entitled “Pictorial Effect in Photography”), Robert Demachy, and George Davidson.
Pictorialism again made an appearance in photography in the second half of the nineteenth century. In the 1880s, the exhibitions mounted by the Photographic Society were regarded as the premier event. However, several of its members were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the Society’s emphasis on scientific as opposed to artistic matters. As time went on differences between the photographic purists and photographic artists became greater and more unfriendly. One of the first to challenge the rigid approach to photography was an English amateur photographer Peter Henry Emerson (1856-1936.) Emerson urged photographers to turn directly to nature for inspiration. His book in 1889 Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art was base on his belief, photography is an art by itself, independent of painting. Emerson later modified his thinking theorizing that merely reproducing nature is not art. The second important forerunner of the pictorial movement was Henry Peach Robinson (1834-1901.) Robinson originally trained as an artist pioneered a method of creating one print from several different negatives was becoming increasingly frustrated by the failure of the Royal Photographic Society in London to recognize that there was an artistic dimension to photography as well as a scientific one to photography. The Photographic News for August 19, 1892 pinpointed the problem: “If photography is ever to take up its proper position as an art it must detach itself from science and live a separate existence.” Commenting upon the proceedings of the Photographic Society, Robinson wrote “For years art has scarcely been mentioned… The feeling that art had nothing to do with the Society became so pronounced two or three years ago that one of the officials expressed his opinion that papers on art may be tolerated if they could be got and there was nothing better to be had….” and led to the resignation of Robinson and George Davidson from the Society. Robinson resigned after being the well respected Vice-President of the Society, and a member for many years. His resignation was followed by that of several other distinguished photographers of the Royal Photographic Society.
In May 1892, after resigning from the Royal Photographic society, Robinson founded the Linked Ring, a brotherhood consisting of a group of photographers based in London, pledged to enhance photography as a fine art. Famous members of this brotherhood (which was by invitation only – one could not apply for it) included Frank Sutcliffe, Frederick Evans, Paul Martin, and Alfred Stieglitz. Though the formation of this group was, as their publicity indicated, “a means of bringing together those who are interested in the development of the highest form of Art of which Photography is capable”, it is also very likely that serious photographers were now trying to distance themselves from the growth of photography for all, brought about by the introduction of simple cameras. The idea that anyone could press a button and take a photograph caused the more dedicated to look for new techniques which the “snap photographers” would never aspire to.
By 1901 some of its members were boldly stating that the Linked Ring and its annual publication, Photograms of the Year had demonstrated that “pictorial photography is able to stand alone and that it has a future entirely apart from that which is purely mechanical.” At the 1908 exhibition of the Salon, photographers discovered that many of the exhibits (over 60%) were by Americans. British members of the Link, being in the majority, changed the rules for the following year’s exhibition, leading to the resignation from the Linked Ring of several influential Americans including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen Clarence White etc. This abandonment of the Linked Ring from the Americans led to the Linked Ring being dissolved. In its place came the London Salon, their first exhibition being held in 1910. The Salon continues to this day.
Straight Photography and the F64 group
A similar reaction to the photographic establishment was emerging in America, where the Photo-Secession was formed by Alfred Stieglitz with their superb official publication Camera Work (1903-17.) Before World War 1 Stieglitz, Steichen and Strand and Weston all used soft focus and printed their photographs on paper with a special texture, in order to produce impressionistic images reminiscent both of Japanese prints and the atmospheric paintings of the American artist J. A. M. Whistler. Stieglitz in the 1890s made straightforward photos of New York City in different seasons and weather conditions. He founded the Photo-Secession movement in 1902. About the 1920s the trend was to free photography from the domination of painting. The trend was to capture minute details and to abstract natural forms with precision and to convey a deep emotional effect. A number of American Photographers including Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Imogen Cunningham all shared the belief that photographers should exploit the inherent , unique capabilities of the camera to produce an image capturing faraway details in as sharp as focus as objects close at hand. Photography backtracked to its early years of the daguerreotype for the original purpose of producing a “likeness.” The photograph was to define a scene as a realistic object not as an art rendering. “Photography- Not Pictorial” was Edward Weston’s mandate. His interpretation was that pictorial photography was imitating art, and can only be a poor imitation. The camera sees only what the photographer composes and searches for with the light, composition and his lenses. The camera will pick up. The bad and the good photograph whether this is art or not according to Weston did not matter. Good & bad art lies in the minds that created it not in the technical abilities of the artist or photographer. The finished photograph begins with the press of the shutter. This direct approach does not allow any pretenses. The rest of the process for the finished print is all a matter of technique, the same similar technique that the artists uses with his brushes and medium. Technique does not create the photograph. The painter can change his original conception of his final work as he paints. The photographer can not. The finest detail has already been determined on taking the photograph. According to the F64 or straight photography group, if the photographer through subterfuge masks his final work with artistic effects, again the photographer is imitating the painter.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT PHOTOGRAPH IN THE DIGITAL ELECTRONIC ERA
© 2000/2009 by Bill (William) Marder
Since prehistoric times as well as today, art in various forms have maintained a close relationship with mankind. Artists always utilized the available methods for that period to portray their art. It may have been painting, photography, sculpture, beadwork, pottery, wood or stone carving, scrimshaw etc. Art was used for creating an image of an animal, event, famous person or one’s personal family member, or for showing a scene in one’s own environment. The artists were the individuals who had the tools, recognition, and talent to create images or scenes closest to what it looked like in real life.
The real meaning of photography and what is a photograph actually in scientific terms is a method of drawing with light, and capturing the image.
When photography was invented in 1839 the word “photography” had the same meaning as now: any process that makes realistic looking pictures. As we enter the Digital Electronic Era, when I refer to my photograph I have to remember they are made solely by electronic methods, not chemical. It is difficult to use the past scientific original meaning of the word “photography” because that word now must include electro-mechanically generated pictures.
We must first begin to differentiate between digital imaging and photography from a fundamental standpoint. Photography as used today is basically about the subject. What the photographer perceived in that subject and what was so compelling that it had to be photographed. It is making the differentiation between the scenes as we saw it and a scene, as we would like it to be. The photographer, like the artist and poet, delves into the reality of life. At one point it is simplistic and then it can be mysterious as the photographer studies the subtleties of light and shadows. It is interesting to note that a black and white photo attracts more attention to the viewer than one in color as a realistic and authentic rendition, not distracted by a mask of color.
Many photographers have always attempted to imitate and produce their work along the lines of a painting. With the introduction of photography, the art world was stunned to hear the expression “today painting is dead.” Fortunately painting and photography flourished, side by side, although many aspiring artists unable to find work took up the vocation of photography. There was then a blending of art and photography with many well-known artists. Degas, Delacroix, Manet, Tissot, Corot, purchasing cameras to assist them in their painting. New art methods made its appearance besides oil, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, etc. All became popular after the arrival of photography. It is a shame that photography came after painting and has always been haunted by the art phenomena. This caused the public to view a photograph in relation to art. As an object of the artist’s imagination, photography along with impressionism in the 1880s developed into its own High-Art form called “Pictorial Photography.” It still remained as it was conceived, a realistic except an imaginative photograph. Delacroix who himself used a camera and called a photograph,”the dictionary of nature.” This meaning allowed the photograph to mirror back to the viewer an exact copy of what we see almost like an artificial eye. At the same time it allowed the photograph to probe into the depths of nature. Stieglitz noted the camera had an “intensity of vision” or as Edward Weston stated the camera had the capacity for ” looking deeply into the nature of things.” It is what both the photographer and viewer read into a photograph that determines its beauty and character. We can all take a photo of a peach or an individual except only the photographer with an artistic eye is able to capture the total effect of light and shadows and depth. The end product will make a difference to the viewer examining both finished prints. One can ask, have we only copied nature or have we made nature into a thing of beauty? A great photograph is a piece of art. It captures the spirit of the subject and evokes emotion. That in my opinion is “What Makes A Great Photograph.”
There was much discussion in the early 1930s as what style of photography to follow. There was a split between the pictorialists view that, “any trick, contrivance or convenience (was) acceptable in the production of an image as long as it served the final product.” In pictorial photography the scene was not considered as important as the artistic effect. This brought a strong reaction from a group f/64 purists, founded in 1932 and led by noted photographers, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, etc. Photographers have always managed to use some type of subterfuge to aid in improving their photographs. Stieglitz used Vaseline on his lens to create a soft- focus effect. Ansel Adams elevated dodging and burning to an art form. Many of his most famous prints were manipulated in the darkroom. These same controls are available in the digital process with the use of a computer. The end results from both the pictorialist (High-Art) and group F/64 purists were still outstanding photographs, captured from reality. The question with both the pictorialist and purists, have we copied nature or have we made nature into a thing of beauty? That in my opinion is what makes a photograph different from one produced by an amateur.
The digital electronic process has had no effect on today’s work of the creative photographer in comparison to past processes. Great photographs made in any process will always remain great as long as our civilization recognizes the deeper penetrating beauty of an extraordinary photograph. No matter what method or process is used, the artist or the photographer must know his tools of the trade, as well as composition, form and texture. The artist/photographer creates from his mind. The final result must glow with beauty. The final determination as to what is a salable photograph or a work of art will be determined not by the artist, photographer, or critic, but by the individual purchasing the photograph. Only the artist/photographer, not the purchaser will determine the final creative result. Two separate individuals will choose their art differently based on their backgrounds and personalities. With time and changes in taste, certain art or photography styles will prevail, and at one time recognition of older styles of art or photography will have its heyday.
HISTORY OF DIGITAL ELECTRONIC PHOTOGRAPHY © 1999 – UPDATED 2009
(FROM: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF BILL MARDER A RETROSPECTIVE)
(BILL “WILLIAM” MARDER)
How Long Will Your Prints Last – Technology
behind Standard Dye-based ink and Pigmented ink
© Bill Marder 2002, 2012 – E Mail: Sacrcir@aol.com
We now have the technology that I could never imagine of having 50 years ago, high ISO, prints that last 50, 100, or even 130 years or longer. During the 70’s the buzz was that we all hoped color prints would last 30 year! Even black and white prints were susceptible to fading too if they weren’t processed properly. Many of the past processes like Anscochrome, Cibachrome and Ilfochrome, Kodachrome and the ultimate best the Dye-transfer process, were all susceptible to premature fading.
The dye in the dye-based ink dissolves in water like sugar does in water — completely. Pigment inks do not dissolve completely. It is more like a flour and water mixture. Because of this, dye-based inks flow better and have been the standard in inkjet printers. But the dye will re-dissolve and the ink will flow across the paper if drops of water hit the paper. Pigmented ink particles tend to settle into the tiny fibers that make up the paper. As the ink dry’s, the pigment particles get stuck in the fibers. Thus, the pigmented inks are more water resistant than the dye-based inks. Only about 5 to 10 percent of the ink will re-flow if the paper is hit by water.
The molecules in dye-based inks are spread out. You might think of dye-based ink on paper as similar to a beach covered with sand. Because of this, dye-based ink tends to fade quicker, since all of the molecules are exposed to the chemical and sunlight-caused reactions that fade the ink. You may notice fading of dye-based inks exposed to direct sunlight commonly in 6 to 12 weeks, although when protected from air and sunlight, these inks can last several years. However, new dyes developed originally by HP, Fuji, and Epson have improved the fade resistance of dye-based inks to be equivalent to the capability of most pigments. As soon as dye inks are intermixed they begin to fade. Pigment particles are similar to large pebbles on a beach. It is much more difficult for sunlight and chemicals to react with all of the pigment molecules, since most of them are hidden inside the “pebbles”. Special Pigmented inks are those which are rated as “Archival Quality” Archival quality pigmented inks use special pigments such as carbon to improve the fade performance beyond that of normal pigmented inks. Tests have been run by Wilhelm Imaging Research that show that specially made Carbon Pigment Inks as utilized by Bill Marder on certain papers and on his Canvas will have a lasting ability well over 120 years without direct sunlight and way longer under with inside light or darker storage conditions. It is now possible to get more “color” into dyes than into pigments. It used to be that dye-based colors tend to be more vibrant than pigment-based colors, and pigmented black inks tended to be slightly lighter than dye-based inks. Dye-based black inks tend to be better for text printing, whereas pigmented black inks often are designed more to blend in a graphics application. Photography usage also depends upon the overall printer design. HP, Canon and Epson 4 and 6- color printers often use dye-based inks, whereas their 4-ink systems often use pigmented inks. Their recent 8 or 9 cartridge printers now use much longer lasting special pigment ink that have a color vibrancy similar to that of dye-based inks. Longer lasting Pigment inks can now be purchased to refill in separate cartridges or used in a CFS system for continuous use through tubes attached to your printer.
After Thoughts on Digital Photography
(Differences Between a Snapshot and A Professional Photograph,
As well as Answers to Manipulation In Photography)
© Bill Marder – July 2013
Time sure goes fast. I am still involved in Photography in 2013, seventy years after I was given my first Kodak Brownie camera in the early 1940s. Shortly after that my older brother who was an avid photographer became one of the first draftees entering the US Army during World War 2. I inherited his darkroom with all the chemicals and equipment in our parent’s basement, which I then began to use. My interest in photography increased as I began taking photographs, entering and wining contests as well as becoming my High School yearbook photographer. Since then I have gone through cameras, from a Bakelite Argoflex twin lens reflex until I enlisted in the US Army where my experience in photography led me to Special Services where I was given a Speed Graphic to use. On leaving the Army from Japan as soon as I arrived in San Francisco I immediately purchased a better-made Ciroflex twin lens, which I used during the late 1940s and through the 1950s. Later as my earnings increased after opening in1950 my first business Creative Enterprises in New York City, I was fortunate to be able to afford to buy and use a Leica, Rolleiflex, and Super Speed Graphic camera.
During the1970s through the 1990s, after moving to Florida, and managing one of the largest Printing and Photographic establishments in the US, as well as later reentering into my own Color Separation photographic business (Magic Color Inc.), I became more involved with taking photographs, learning and using more of the various photographic processes, collecting these beautiful wood antique cameras, (thanks to my wife,) as well as writing articles and books about Photographic History, (Anthony, The Man, The Company, The Cameras, etc). I also began to take photographs, with all types of these antique wood cameras, both smaller and larger format cameras from the 4×5 Ansco view, 8×10 Eastman Kodak and Deardorff, to 5×12 to 12x 20 panoramic wood cameras, as well as developing in 1980, a Diffusion Transfer Process along with an automatic developing machine without the use of a darkroom for permanent photographic prints (as well as writing a book on: The History and Technique of A New Diffusion Process).
With the entrance of Digital photography in the 1990s I was the first to begin experimenting with the first digital cameras, Casio, Sony and Nikon 3 megapixel digital cameras. As the Technology improved I changed with it, utilizing Panasonic, Canon and Lumix and Nikon digital cameras to where now I am content with my 12 megapixel Canon Powershot SX40 HS and my fast compact 1.14 12 megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMZ-LX7 digital cameras.
In 2013 Digital photography has never been so flexible due to the rapid advances of digital technology and to a better understanding of these developments in art and photographic world. Digital imaging has also struck up a closer relationship with both photography and painting.
A traditional darkroom ending polluting chemicals into our environment is no longer needed in digital printmaking. Digital photography is now fast and very creative. It can allow anyone to do everything they wish to do, like printing onto artistic papers, hand coloring, manipulating and enhancing the image, and translating the digital file. It is far easier to create “the mood” with Photoshop and the computer, rather than in the traditional darkroom. Adobe Labs Inc. first shipped the first Photoshop version 1.0 in February of 1990. A college professor named Glenn Knoll who maintained a darkroom in his basement originally designed it. Many of the early tools and icons were modeled after tools of the traditional darkroom, such as dodging and burning.
Since the early 1990s, working with the computer, I have devoted my entire life to ceaseless experimentation with extending, revisiting, re-conceptualizing my photographs. The computer has now become merely a new modern outlet of my photography, an extension of the camera, much better than my older darkroom, and older photographic processes, as well as realizing the digital electronic process has had no effect on my work as a creative photographer in comparison to past processes. Great photographs made in any process will always remain great as long as our civilization recognizes the deeper penetrating beauty of an extraordinary photograph. No matter what method or process is used, the artist or the photographer must know his tools of the trade, as well as composition, form and texture. The artist/photographer creates from his mind. The final result must glow with beauty.
With the advent of digital photography and the to-be-expected push back by some traditionalists (purists), as well as photographers refusing to take the leap forward to the digital age, It’s all too common to hear or read phrases such as “I don’t do anything to my photos” or “I only set black and white and color balance before I print.” In their passion for tradition they mistakenly think that “untouched” images are somehow more revealing or truer. In reality, however, they are neither. The images are plain and, lacking in any personal expression, replacing it instead with ineffectual mechanical and electronic sterility. It’s like a reading a poem in a flat, monotone, unemotional voice. No matter how powerful the words may be the message will be lost.
Differences between a Snapshot and a Professional Photograph:
Snapshots and “fine art” photography are entirely different, from one another. When you’re making family snapshots, you’re making photographs for yourself and your immediate family as memories of your own daily life, placing the photos in an album or showing them to your friends on Facebook. Ensuring objective accuracy isn’t as important in a family memory. Similarly, there’s no expectation that a “fine art” photograph be anything other than something that is visually pleasing or emotionally and intellectually stimulating.
Photography today as it always has been is not about playing with the settings on your camera; it’s not about copying the world. Photography is about the vision of the person behind the viewfinder, combined with his aesthetic sense. Vision and aesthetics result in the interpretation of the scene through the photographer’s mind. Photographers have the power to create, to freeze time and deliver a message while excluding surrounding elements. Just as a painter puts on canvas his own vision, a photographer paints with the camera and light and uses whatever is available electronic or darkroom means to create his final artistic print. I’ve never been able to have an image I photographed come out of the camera exactly as I saw it. It always needs some kind of work even if it is to adjust the colors and/or contrast to achieve that. It may take numerous shots just to get that one perfect photo that I can use. I can and sometimes do spend hours looking in detail at my images in the computer, determining which one is sharpest and has the best composition, to avoid cropping too much
As for camera equipment there are those with the latest high priced high-end expensive cameras (are welcome to use them if they can afford it) with an array of expensive lenses, shooting on Auto mode may be wondering why their photos come out bad. The high priced camera does not make a great photographer. It is your artistic eye and learning all the tools (not necessarily the use of a high priced camera) you have at hand.
Photographer Paul Strand stated the decision as to when to photograph, or the actual click of the shutter, is only partly controlled from the outside. The rest comes from the mind and the heart of the artist. The photograph is your vision of the world and expresses, however subtly, your values and convictions. Paul Strand also stated: “There are purists in all forms of expression.” There are some who call themselves purist photographers, who steadily refuse to ‘edit’ their photos with the explanation that they wanted to make them as perfect as they can be when as they snapped the first photograph. My answer is not that anyone can do the same, but that millions are already doing this. Does that make you a great photographer or even an artistic one? Try to do the work of the great Master photographers or continually output fine artistic photographic prints and you will see the real difference.
Processing by Digital or with a Darkroom is actually an extremely important part of the creative process. One or a few photographs do not make a great Photographer as one or two paintings do not make a great Artist. It is an accumulation of your years of work that will be the judge. Please remember Photography is not only about developing a scene seen through the human eye, but one that is photographed seen through the eye of human creativity. Purists who believe that only the camera makes the final photograph do not understand the varieties of ways that went into the making of a great photograph. The computer has expanded the medium’s expressive potential into new possibilities, or what appear as endless new possibilities. Only look at the present online photography sites that have become the 21st century’s photographic salons,
Manipulation or Altering Of Photographs:
In previous earlier articles and lectures now available on my web site at:
www.billwilliammarder.com, I went into the many early photographers that altered or used manipulative techniques in their photos. Our greatest recognized photographers practiced some way of adding to, taking away or enhancement of their photos. In 2000 my article, titled: Art and Photography (Artist’s renditions of Photographs and Photographers attempt to be Artists,) and then in my PowerPoint presentation at the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida, on June18, 2006 titled: Painting and Photography: Their Relationship Past & Present: New Techniques in the Digital Era – Erasing the Thin Line between the Two.
Much has been made over Photoshop’s ability to distort reality, and the hearsay about lowering the standards for the Photographic image. However all types of techniques to alter a photograph have existed, as long as there have been photographs since the birth of Photography. In 1946 Retouching, instead of today’s photoshopping changed the two images below.
Digital has now more than ever blurred the lines between photography and other visual Arts such as drawing, painting, graphics, architecture, even filmmaking. In opposition to the new emerging postmodern, deconstructive, digital aesthetic I have set out to make my digital photographs retain the look of traditional documentary silver based photography. Digital photography and image-editing software have brought about an increased awareness of the degree to which camera images can be manipulated, although keep in mind this is not new in photography. It has been going on since the birth of photography and the saying “The Camera Never Lies,” is a statement that never was completely true. This statement started from the time, when photography had been invented (around 1839). Before that, people were only used to paintings, which were a subjective thing. In photography, this is quite different. A photo is not a painting. For this reason, photography was not regarded as art for a very long time. A photograph during the earlier time was considered only a machine and the results were considered to be absolutely objective, therefore it was thought the camera could never lie. From the moment people started posing and photographers entered the darkroom the lie began. Today the results from the camera can be manipulated in every conceivable way, to not only to be objective but to also create whatever one desires.
The first well-publicized case of photo manipulation (Illustrated below) happened in 1860, when the heroic portrait by Matthew Brady of Lincoln (the one on the American five dollar bill) was composited on to the body of a woodcut of the noted slavery advocate John C. Calhoun. The image was then printed on an Albumen print.
The above famous photo portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s head upon the
Woodcut body of politician, John C. Calhoun c. 1860’s
It is important to first understand initially, that most all photographs are contrived, cropped, tonally changed, and transformed in the process of moving from the fully chromatic three dimensional world to the two dimensional print. Art photographs are subject to even more instances of burning, dodging, and retouching not to mention outright fakery and subterfuge. The first thing to bear in mind is that every photographic image is, to some degree, manipulated, with your lens selection, composition, f-stop and shutter-speed combinations, filters, etc. These are all subtle forms of in-camera manipulation whereas dodging, burning, contrast filters, different paper use and chemical processing are all forms of darkroom manipulation. Some of the best-known straight-photography American landscapes involved printing from multiple negatives — as well as enough chemical processing and reprocessing to start a small toxic waste dump
A variety of techniques and processes to make changes in a photograph have always been utilized by Photographers, as: multiple exposures by taking two or more photos on a single negative; Combination printing by producing a final single print from two or more negatives; Photomontages; Hand coloring; Adding clouds; Retouching the negative or print etc. The resulting images are as diverse in style and motivation as they are in technique. The practice of altering or manipulating photographs has existed since the medium was invented. In every instance, the meaning and content of the camera image was significantly transformed during the process of manipulation. Devotees of manipulation, included Henry Peach Robinson, Edward Steichen, and John Heartfield (a pioneer of modern photomontages,) are among the few.
The real issue is not whether or not an image has been manipulated, but rather, what is the intention. Does the photographer intend to overcome the inherent limitations of photography to achieve the most factually accurate record of a scene possible? Is manipulation intended to make an image more attractive or eye catching by removing extraneous details, selectively sharpening, or boosting contrast or color saturation? Does the image make an artistic statement that involves intentionally, but overtly, altering visual reality? Or is it intended to mislead? Hopefully my answers below will cover this.
Manipulating a photograph beyond what can be considered contrast/color/etc. improvements or simple changes/fixes to the looks as a whole destroys the concept of a “photograph.” It is just as dishonest to call a heavily photoshopped image a “photo” as it would be to call an acrylic painting a pen sketch. All of these are completely valid as an art form, but not necessarily as a photograph. As in a Painting, heavily manipulated images are great, but they are not photos. At the same time what kills photography more is our obsessions about truth and process. How many times do you ask a painter how they painted a picture, or how many times they painted over the sky? Photography seems to be plagued by prejudices and superiority complexes pitting art against a science process rather than over performance. The attitude of the creative photographer, like for instance Edward Weston, Stieglitz, is that they saw very clearly in their mind’s eye, the final photograph they visualized before they made the photograph. Then the technique or the craft is simply applied as required. While you do have to be exact as you work on your finished print you can also bring out more details as you work with the tools at hand.
Darkrooms were never as sophisticated as using Photoshop, with all the layers, the brush settings, the curves and all the different options; You don’t get your hands dirty anymore using Photoshop as you did in the darkroom and you don’t have to spend money on chemicals. Photoshop is a much more complicated process when working on your photos than when I used the darkroom. I found it is impossible to use all the tools at my disposal in Photoshop. If I feel I can accomplish what I want without overworking the photograph, I will stop there. Many tools the photographer uses on Photoshop, like Burning or Dodging came from the darkroom. We have to stop calling digital imaging- the assembly of an image as computer- generated Photography. Digital Photography is only a process of a large number of Photographic processes that have existed since the birth of Photography. Among them the Daguerreotype, Albumen, Wet Plate, Carbon, Bromoil, Platinum, Sepia and Color tone printing Dye transfer, Collotype, Cibachrome, diffusion, Silver etc. & etc. processes. Photography is always about the final print, what the photograph I saw in that subject as it existed in reality and what was so compelling that it had to be photographed. Photographers since the beginning have always expressed his artistic expression through these various processes, The photographer utilized all chemical processes in the darkroom as well as his in his camera so as to manipulate his final prints by dodging, use of filters, Vaseline on his lens, superimposing etc. to assist him to achieve certain effects.
Stieglitz in the 1890s made straightforward photos of New York City in different seasons and weather conditions. He founded the Photo-Secession movement in 1902. A number of American Photographers including Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Imogen Cunningham all shared the belief that photographers should exploit the inherent, unique capabilities of the camera to produce an image capturing faraway details in as sharp as focus as objects close at hand. A group of seven California photographers formed Group f/64 as an opposing point of view from the then dominating group of New York Pictorialist Photographers of the time such as Alfred Stieglitz. Group f/64’s photos represented sharp focused and carefully framed photos vs. the pictorialists who felt photography should emulate a painting or etching and used soft focus techniques, heavy manipulation in the darkroom and exotic printing processes to attain this style. While it was the goal of Group f/64 to show more realistic photography that does not mean that Ansel Adams or other members of the group never manipulated or altered their photos in the darkroom. Before World War 1 Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand and Weston all used soft focus effects as well as even using Vaseline on the lens and printed their photographs on paper in the darkroom with a special texture, in order to produce impressionistic images reminiscent both of Japanese prints and the atmospheric paintings of the American artist J. A. M. Whistler.
About the 1920s the trend was to free photography from the domination of painting. The trend was to capture minute details and to abstract natural forms with precision and to convey a deep emotional effect. Photography once again started to backtrack to its early years of the daguerreotype for the original purpose of producing a “likeness.” The photograph now beginning to change to define a scene as a realistic object not as an art rendering. “Photography- Not Pictorial” was Edward Weston’s mandate. His interpretation was that pictorial photography was imitating art, and can only be a poor imitation.
Ansel Adams as with many other photographers followed this new trend in photography and shifted their work from Pictorialist soft-focus photography to the magnified sharpness of modernism, like that of Edward Weston and other photographers of this time, This modernistic approach was not self-motivated, but rather was caused by the time Adams spent in Taos and the adoption of modernistic principles in art throughout the United States. The latter included a rebellion by young artists against the entrenched edification of societies like the National Academy of Design. For instance, a group of artists led by Robert Henri and John Sloan sought greater realism in both style and subject matter and were dubbed the “Ashcan School” for their blunt depictions of urban life.
During these artistically tumultuous years, Ansel met a number of people who had great influence on his intellectual and artistic life. In the spring of 1929, just before the publication of Taos Pueblo, Ansel met John Marin and Georgia O’Keefe, who were also close collaborators of Alfred Stieglitz. Ansel fervently absorbed their interest in nature and indigenous American elements as subjects for their art. Other artists who had a significant influence on Adams included Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston and Paul Strand.
Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz and others spent hours in the darkroom processing images. As both Adam’s and Stieglitz were my inspirations, and as I studied their techniques, it was not lost on me to find both of them and then most every other of the “masters” manipulated their work. Spending hours in a darkroom dodging and burning is not any different than spending hours on your computer with Photoshop. Whether it is burning and dodging, secret chemical recipes, contrast masking, or simply choosing a different film, it was all still manipulation. The problem people have I think is that in the old days it was very difficult to master these techniques, whereas now anyone could pick it up these techniques easily so it somehow looks more like cheating if they are using a computer.
Purists often mention Ansel Adams as a perfect landscape purist photographer. I find it amusing because Ansel Adams was actually one of the biggest “cheaters” (as they would call it). Adams was known for spending hours and hours in the darkroom processing his photos using the burn/dodge technique. One of his famous quotes is: “The film is the score, but the print is the performance.” In the digital age even when you send your photos to a printing lab, they would process, adjust and correct colors for you before printing. Every photograph is the product of many decisions and compromises starting when software engineers and camera designers decide how to process the raw data recorded by the lens and ending with decisions about what to include or exclude from the image. In the end, what matters most is the integrity of the documentary photographer and editor to achieve their desired result.
Ansel Adams when questioned about his life experiences in Photography and his techniques related it to his love of music stating: Yes. It was all trial and error and experience. People worked like dogs until they got what they wanted. Unless they knew what the desired values were and really knew what the film would do, they were helpless. In the early days, I remember, I’d take maybe four, five pictures of a subject. I’d take one that I hoped was right, but I wasn’t sure, so I’d go up and down the exposure scale a couple of half stops and take a few more and then pick the best one…Visualizing the print, I know what values I feel. I may want to use a filter to change a value in a part of the scene in relation to another. I determine the appropriate camera settings and timing. All these things go through the mind automatically, very fast, like a computer. When I know what is required to capture the visualization on the negative, I also know what I will do to the print in the darkroom, though in the darkroom, I can experiment, enhance, embellish. First, however, you must get all the information you need in the negative. When you have it, you can print…now the performance. Just as I have great freedom when I perform a Chopin scherzo from a printed page, I have great freedom making the print. I can’t go against the basic music, but I can, as I said, enhance it. That is why the pictures I make of the same subject over the years will be very different. Each one is a felt expression that is tied in to the original score, the original visualization. A lot of people don’t believe that; they feel that photography is rigid, that you capture an image on a negative and merely repeat it in the print. Well, that is physically impossible and, certainly, aesthetically undesirable. Each performance is a creation, the creation of something new…Well, you don’t improve on nature; you reveal your impression of nature or nature’s impact on you. There is a three-dimensional object and some natural color in front of you and you’re creating a two-dimensional object in black and white, which in itself is quite an abstraction of what you saw. Part of the interpretation simply has to do with the sensitivity of the film.
Ansel Adams clarified in his writing about his most important photograph Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico as well as giving us an insight into his own manipulative techniques in photography. “It wouldn’t have been possible 100 years ago. The film wasn’t sensitive enough to capture it. Moonrise is a good example of controlling the image on the negative to create the visualization. There were light clouds in the sky over the church that I felt were not attractive; they took away from the dramatic feeling of the scene. From the first visualization, I knew I could darken them and almost eliminate them. I had no chance to wait for anything to change, so I took the photograph, and then printed the sky very deep, so that the high clouds are only about one percent visible… My Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico has the emotion and the feeling that the experience of seeing the actual moonrise created in me, but it is not at all realistic. Merely clicking the camera and making a simple print from the negative would have created a wholly different–and ordinary–photograph. People have asked me why the sky is so dark, thinking exactly in terms of the literal. But the dark sky is how it felt…once the photograph is taken, is the development and printing a mechanical process? No, it is not mechanical. Although there is a procedure, there is much judgment involved on the part of the artist. Ansel said that the negative for Moonrise was difficult to print. He tried many methods using different chemicals and times and papers. With the negative in the enlarger, he increased the light hitting certain areas (burning-in), which made the sky blacker and the clouds less bright so the moon would stand out more. With all these artistic adjustments, Adams said, “it is safe to say that no two prints are precisely the same.” Moonrise was his most difficult negative of all to print. Using simple pieces of cardboard, Ansel would painstakingly burn in (darken with additional light from the enlarger) the sky, which was really quite pale with streaks of cloud throughout. He was careful to hold back a bit on the moon. The mid-ground was dodged (light withheld), though the crosses have been subtly burned in. This process took Ansel more than two minutes per print of intricate burning and dodging. Ansel created Moonrise with a night sky, a luminous moon and an extraordinary cloudbank that seems to reflect the moon’s brilliance. Moonrise is sleight of hand. Moonrise is magic.”
What Ansel Adams and others are describing can clearly be seen in the photos below. The top photo has none of Ansel Adams’ darkroom magic. The other two would call this manipulation. The clouds have been darkened bringing back some detail, the foreground has been lightened bringing more detail to this section and entire sky has been blackened resulting in entire clouds disappearing. The result is a much more dramatic photograph. Further, the photo on bottom below is also a very different interpretation than those photos of “Moonrise” printed earlier in 1949.
Ansel Adams, forecast the future as well relating to digital photography by stating: “None of my images are realistic in terms of values… it’s intentional manipulation…“The thing that excites me is that in not too many years we’re going to have an entirely new medium of expression with the electronic image. I’ve seen what can happen to a print reproduced by the laser scanner and how that is enhanced and that is just the beginning…and I know the potential is there and I know it’s going to be wonderful. If Ansel Adams were alive today, I sincerely believe that he would be using the highest quality digital cameras and computer software to produce the best images possible.
Photographer Alfred Stieglitz was asked by some skeptic, rather scornfully, “How do you make a creative photograph?” he answered, “I go out into the world with my camera and come across something that excites me emotionally, spiritually or aesthetically. I see the image in my mind’s eye. I make the photograph and print it as the equivalent of what I saw and felt.” That describes it well. What he called seeing in the mind’s eye, I call visualization. In my mind’s eye, I am visualizing how a particular revelation of sight and feeling will appear on a print. If I am looking at you, I can continue to see you as a person, but I am also in the habit of shifting from that consciously dimensional presence to a photograph, relating you in your surroundings to an image in my mind. If what I see in my mind excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense and also an ability that comes from a lot of practice. Some people never can get it.
I can continue giving examples of the use of manipulative means most Photographers have resorted to achieve their goals. As it will take a much longer article I will end with one of the top Florida Photographers Jerry Uelsmann. All of Jerry Uelsmann’s initial work began in the 1960s before the digital and computer had taken hold. His work is outstanding an imaginative although it is done utilizing composite photographs with multiple negatives and extensive darkroom work.
Photographer Jerry Uelsmann is a master of photomontage and a pioneer of photo manipulation. He finds his source material in many locations and while traveling. Some of the objects in his work are photographed in the studio against a white screen or black velvet to eliminate a background and permit the object to be inserted or “collaged” seamlessly with other images in the photograph. Uelsmann uses a series of up to 8 enlargers in his darkroom to “build” his photographs. He adds the individual component images from each negative to his photograph by making a timed exposure at each enlarger. After images from all negatives have been exposed onto the photographic paper, it is stopped, fixed and rinsed in washbasins. Husband and wife artists Maggie Taylor and Jerry Uelsmann create photographic images using two completely different techniques. Uelsmann montages or “builds” his photographs in a darkroom by exposing up to nine different black and white negatives onto a single sheet of photographic paper. Rather than work in a darkroom, Taylor assembles her images in layers using her computer and Photoshop. She then prints the completed image with her state-of-the-art inkjet printer.
What matters most is what the Photographer does with all this new technology. Is he true to the subject and reality as he sees it? Of course, you could argue, completely legitimately, that the real beauty is out there in nature, in reality, and that any recording, or representation of that beauty in a photograph or painting is only a pale imitation of the real thing. This is undoubtedly true, to a very large degree. It is also true that a photograph or painting by a skilled artist or photographer can capture some of the spirit of beauty of the scene, and that the finished print or painting can transmit some of that nature to others. Because of the ease in manipulating digital images with Photoshop, some people are questioning whether images are “real” or “art”, and wondering if they can believe anything they see anymore. Let us keep in mind that individuals have been faking photos and manipulating them since the invention of photography – this is nothing new. Just as a writer enhances his factual stories with metaphor and adjectives (Ernest Hemmingway mentioned that himself), photographers should be allowed to enhance their images with digital techniques such as contrast and color enhancement, as long as it remains a photograph.
People that are critical of using digital techniques in the computer in making a photograph do not realize what they are talking about. The new smart phones are now getting more and more equipped with software that now will enable any snap shooter to automatically have the best image picked for them, to eliminate red eye adjustments as well as to make additional contrast and color corrections. Though it may not make you a great photographer it may still make you a better photographer if you can only remember which button to press to make these adjustments. At least you will be able to use Photoshop to put your friend’s head on a chicken’s body, or whatever, but those of us who shoot for real will almost certainly be using Photoshop, to make these changes in a computer.
New Advances in Digital Printing
And Photographic Print Processes
© Bill Marder 7-2013
In the past I was a strong advocate for the virtues of gelatin silver photographic prints. Many of my older prints since my entrance into photography in the early 1940s were printed from my negatives by contact or an enlarger in a traditional wet-darkroom using an archival processed fiber-based silver photographic paper, in black and white and then toned if needed. At that time, proper fixing and washing of the print always determined how long the print would last.
There was a time in the past when creating an original print in my business or darkroom required years of experience, and many hours and patience working with metal plates and dangerous chemicals and solvents, whether it was an etching, engraving, lithograph, screen print or a photographic print. Reproducing a print from an original painting or graphic was a technical minefield of variables with lighting exposures, color separations and halftone screening that I would have to contend with.
Before digital fine art photographs were printed from a negative onto silver gelatin paper using over 20 different processes (as listed below) when printing from a negative. Silver halide photographic processes have been the only choice for photographers for decades; there is now a trend in the industry to phase this technology out. Some big name manufacturers have already discontinued certain films.
The latest improvements in ink jet printers unlike the early inkjet technologies, along with archival pigment inks, now equal or surpass my past silver prints. Even more fantastic is the vast variety of surfaces and textures available on ink jet papers. I am amazed at the wonderful sense of continuous tone these printers can create with their incredibly detailed picoliter measured drops of pigmented ink.
I now find the older processes are passé compared with the new prints which are made with the latest technological digital Ink jet printers and pigment inks so that each print produced has their own special feel and look. This is comparable in the same way there was a difference in a platinum or silver print.
With an up to date ink jet printer and the large variety of available papers I am now able to print on rag, tissue, glossy, textured, canvas or matte papers. I now find a much greater difference in the texture and effect when printing my different photos, in color, black and white, sepia, toned or on canvas. I have much more flexibility in being able to choose any paper I wish to match my variety of subjects whether they are portraits, flowers, scenes, low-key, high-key, in color, or in black and white. As always what is most important is the eye and skill I am able to use and judge as the artist-photographer with what best print material to use for the best effect I am looking for. At present I primarily use Photoshop as I did using my past darkroom and enlarger. I now print most of my photos on Epson Ultra Matte, Watercolor art paper or on Fredrix canvas. Each print I make is one of a kind. Seldom do I print more than one. After each print is completed it is signed, matted, (or framed if canvas) and marked “Artist Proof”.
Now that we have so many choices in the production of an image, I am fully confident that even today’s state-of-the-art is sufficiently evolved to provide myself and all of us assurance that today’s archival pigment-on-paper prints will be enjoyed for a long time to come.
I can now safely say after scouting the web, and auctions, an exhibiting my work that the vast majority of collectible photographic artworks as well as mine are now more than ever produced using ink jet printers and archival pigment inks and are thus defined as I call them “Archival Pigment Prints” and are now more and more exhibited in many galleries as well as purchased by leading museums and collectors throughout the world. The longevity of pigment prints is also a big plus now estimated at between 200 to 300 years or more depending on how your prints are kept.
With the recent advent of high resolution digital cameras and new advanced ink jet printers it is easy to see why initially the accessibility of ink jet printing led to a proliferation of prints, lending a certain amount of confusion amongst the public and suspicion from traditional artists, galleries and the art establishment. Now this has all changed with the realization of the quality and permanence of digital archival printed prints.
On the printing end, images now printed on photo paper with digital printers and pigment archival inks are now equal to or have greater longevity than traditional silver gelatin printing. This now allows me to spend more time to generate an image that in my mind’s eye I truly pictured from the beginning to the end. It has been a great tremendous boost to my creativity and a fantastic time saver.
With the great improvement in Ink jet printers, especially the Epson printers using as much as 9 different color pigment inks, it is possible to print now on any paper, canvas etc. as well as also allowing you to make superior Black and White, toned and sepia prints in various shades. Epson’s new pigment ultra chrome inks cartridges allow the user great flexibility to either use the manufacturers expensive cartridges or as I do purchase my 9 different color pigment inks in bulk and do the refilling myself at a fraction of the cost than to purchase a new cartridge. I find in my photos most of my prints will always manage to look great on archival matte papers.
Many photographers have started to use an “art-type” paper, like Hahnemuehle Photo Rag. My view is that the “look and feel” of these papers disappears when they are displayed under glass. I personally prefer to print many of my photos on canvas and then frame them without having the glare of glass. Looking at some of my work printed and framed on canvas, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish my photographs from a painting. This is especially true when an individual at an art show etc. looking at my canvas photos would criticize them for appearing more like a painting than a photograph, (not that there is anything wrong with this effect). This is the “thin line” I previously mentioned in my past articles, written at the beginnings of digital photography, when I found on working with the digital process, and printing some of my photos on canvas that photography and painting in certain cases although they may not be exact are close in appearance.
This is even more so if someone wishes to enhance these canvas photos with a brush-using artist’s oil or acrylic paints on top of the canvas.
Below are most of the Important Processes, Past and New
For Negative and Paper Printing
Prints made on paper coated with a solution of albumen (egg whites) and ammonia salt, which is then sensitized with silver nitrate and printed. Usually toned with chloride of gold. Popular 1850-1890.
Traditionally produced from negative film rather than more recently from transparency and projected digital images, C-type or ‘Chromogenic’ prints have three layers of photographic emulsion containing silver salts, which are sensitive to differing wavelengths of light – blue, green and red. The light falling on the print sensitizes each layer differently depending on the make up of the light. The exposed print is then developed using chemicals that cause correspondingly coloured dyes to form in each of the layers.
The carbon process is a permanent, non-silver process. The most popular version was J.W Swan’s, introduced in 1864. A tissue, coated with pigmented gelatin, is exposed under a negative. The exposed gelatin hardens and becomes insoluble in water. The tissue is then backed with a transfer sheet on the gelatin side and washed, which removes the original tissue and the unhardened gelatin. A positive relief image is produced, which is then transferred to a paper support. Carbon images were also transferred onto a variety of supports, including ceramic, glass, and metal. Popular 1870-1910.
They are often indistinguishable from the photomechanical Woodburytype, which employs the carbon process in its manufacture.
Chlorophyll prints use the natural process of photosynthesis to transfer an image on to a surface. Chlorophyll absorbs light in the red and blue-violet portions of the visible spectrum; the green portion is not absorbed and, reflected, gives chlorophyll its characteristic color.
Also called “dye coupler prints.” This term represents the majority of the color prints made today. Part of the material that forms colored dyes upon development is included in the emulsion during manufacture. During development, the silver image is bleached out, leaving only the dye image.
These prints are commonly referred to as a “Type C Print” if made from a negative and a “Type R Print” if made from a transparency. Introduced in 1936.
Also called “silver-dye bleach prints.” The dye destruction process depends upon the bleaching of dyes that are formed wholly in the sensitized material, rather than formed during processing.
Color photographic prints made under various trade names including Utocolor in the early 1900s and Gaspar color in the 1930s. Cibachrome (now Ilfachrome) was introduced in 1963.
Making photographic prints by placing a negative in contact with sensitized paper and printing, giving an image the same size as the negative.
Image formed on a silver-coated copper plate, sensitized by fumes of iodine. The image is developed in mercury vapor, which produces a unique direct positive image. Announced in 1839 by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, who had developed this process after his partnership with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Popular until 1860.
Dye Transfer Print
Similar to the carbro process, this involves the use of at least three colour separations, usually produced from a colour transparency original. The colour separations are printed on thick, gelatinous film positives known as matrices, which are then soaked in corresponding dyes of cyan, magenta, yellow and often black. The matrices are then printed in registration in daylight on a fiber-based paper similar to photographic paper, but not light sensitive, transferring the dyes to the paper. The process produces rich colours.
Among the many trade names are Pinatype (introduced in 1903) and Eastman
Wash-off Relief (1935-1946). The Kodak Dye Transfer process, introduced in 1946, is no longer commercially available.
Nonimpact computer-controlled prints in which tiny droplets of ink are projected from nozzles onto paper.
A print made by exposing a negative on a paper coated with an emulsion of gum Arabic, potassium bichromate and pigment. Similar to the carbon process the emulsion hardens in relation to the amount of light it receives through exposure and the unexposed emulsion is washed away.
This process involves using an image originated from a digital camera, scanned print, transparency or negative, rather than from an original negative. A digital printing machine sprays ink in high precision onto paper to produce an image from the digital file. These are similar to domestic computer printers, but Professional Fine Art prints use special high quality archival papers and inks that suit those papers. Inkjet printers can print onto a variety of materials.
A printing process in which the image to be printed is rendered on a flat surface, as on sheet zinc or aluminum, and treated to retain ink while the non image areas are treated to repel ink.
Photographic prints made by re-photographing a collage or montage of two or more photographic prints or pieces of photographic prints to which drawing, painting, printing, or other two-dimensional objects may be added.
New Diffusion Transfer Process
Introduced in 1980 by William Marder – A negative paper sheet containing light sensitive silver salts converted into metallic silver after exposure in a camera or by light and then developed in daylight with a diffusion transfer automatic processer containing Hypo. The hypo dissolves out the unused silver salt from the negative paper enabling it to diffuse or migrate into the positive paper. Can be sepia toned. A permanent process
Photographs produced without a camera, usually by placing an object directly on sensitized paper and exposing it to light.
Includes most photo etchings, and also known as “gravures.” Invented in 1878 by Karl Klic of Bohemia. A carbon tissue (coated with bichromated gelatin) is exposed under a positive transparency. This tissue is pressed into a metal printing plate, which has been dusted with resin. The plate is washed to remove the tissue and the unexposed gelatin (under the shadows of the transparency). The plate is then etched, and the acid bites into the plate where the gelatin was washed away. After etching, the plate is inked and printed. The shadows of the transparency correspond to the shadows on the print. The prints contain a fine, irregular grain pattern from the resin.
Pigment prints (also known as archival pigment prints, digital prints, pigment on paper print, and digital pigment prints) are strictly speaking any type of printing process that uses pigments. Pigment printing processes have been utilized since the middle of the 19th century. The image stability of pigment printing is superior to that of any other method of printing, including traditional silver-halide or metal-based. In the digital printing realm it has become popular in the 1980s. Since then this process, with it’s technological advancements have led to higher resolution prints, highly archival pigments and inks, and a more environmentally-friendly print process (as contrasted with dye-based inkjet prints). Pigment prints have exceptional stability, particularly when using a paper substrate that also has good archival characteristics such as acid-free cotton rag, alpha cellulose, or baryta papers. One advantage of pigment prints is that many types of printing substrates are available, ranging from sheets of aluminum to watercolor-like art papers to luster and glossy papers. Many traditional art papers have been modified for digital printing by addition of a special surface to better received pigment inks, so that a high level of image quality is achieved while retaining much of the feel of the art paper. Independent testing suggesting life spans of pigment prints is comparable to, or exceeding, traditional silver based chemistry prints. Even Cibachrome/Ilfochrome and traditional fiber based black and white prints no longer offer any advantage over the pigment inks especially on rag a process paper, with manufacturer independent testing suggesting life spans of pigment prints comparable to, or exceeding, traditional silver based chemistry prints.
An iron (non-silver) process for making photographic prints in which platinum is reduced from a salt to form the image. Introduced commercially in 1879 as Platinotype, it is a permanent process.
An iron (non-silver) process for making photographic prints in which palladium is reduced from a salt to form the image. Introduced around 1916 when platinum became very expensive because of WWI. It is a permanent process still practiced widely today.
A one-step process for developing and printing photographs created a revolution in photography – instant photography. The process employed a diffusion transfer to move the dyes from the negative to the positive via a reagent. These photographs are made from film packets that contain their own developing chemicals. They may be in color or black-and-white, and used in a camera developed and patented by Edward Land and first introduced to the public in 1948.
It allowed the photographer to remove a developing print after the picture had been snapped.
POP (“Printing Out Paper”)
A process in which a silver or colloid coated paper, contact printed, produces an image from exposure to light instead of chemical development. Characteristics and color are similar to an Albumen print, though with a higher resolution and a glossy finish. The original purpose of this paper in the early 1900s was associated with proofs after professional portraits. Since the image would fade quickly, it was not a substitute for a print. All current fine art prints using POP are toned, usually with gold, making the image permanent.
Silver Gelatin Print
Introduced in the 1885, Silver gelatin prints (also known as gelatin silver print and silver print) were the most common tradition method of printing black & white prints, where a paper is coated with gelatin that contains light sensitive silver salts. Like Silver Bromide prints these prints are highly archival. The gelatin silver process uses gelatin, an animal protein, as the binder and developed silver as the image material. The most common black and white print process, introduced in 1885 and still in use today by photographers.
A variation of the silver gelatin silver print, silver bromides share the features of all silver gelatin prints, giving deep rich blacks and crisp whites on a high gloss paper, as well as having good archival properties. Compared with silver chlorides or chloro-bromides, they have a neutral, deep black tone.
Silver RC prints, or Silver Resin-Coated prints, share production characteristics with Silver Gelatin prints and Archival Chromogenic prints. They are produced from both original negatives and digital files. This process exposes the image on black and white photographic paper. The image is then processed in traditional black and white chemistry. These photos have a pearl finish, no color cast, and are truly neutral black and white. Silver RC prints offer rich blacks, bright detailed whites and an unprecedented range of grey tones. We choose Silver RC production for images that have a distinctive black and white photo feel. Silver RC prints share the same archival qualities as Silver Gelatin prints. They are sometimes referred to as Black and White C prints, RC prints or Black and White RCs.
Also called “ferrotypes” or “melainotypes.” A variant of the wet collodion process producing a direct positive image on a thin sheet of lacquered, or “japanned,” metal, which was usually iron. Later, in the 1880’s, the collodion was replaced by dry gelatin. Popular 1855-1930.
Wet Plate Collodion
A 19th century photographic process using a glass plate negative that had to be coated with collodion solution immediately prior to exposure, and processed directly after.
My final thought is that with today’s new digital technology all this has made it easier for the amateur or professional photographer to make permanent prints. It also does not matter one bit if the print is generated with an inkjet, a darkroom, or anything else. What matters to me is the final result. Does it look great, and will it continue to look great over the years…
Differences: Digital Art (Painting) or Photography and Traditional Art
August, 2013 © Bill Marder
Painting as an art has been with us since the beginning of time. But today, the traditional form of painting is joined by a new art form, Digital Painting.
The process of creating art between the two mediums is quite similar. In traditional painting, applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface, color and form is imparted by using tools, generally brushes (palette knives, fingers, spray cans, etc.) The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects may be used.
The transition from traditional painting to digital requires a lot of adjustment for those artists who do not have any background on using any graphical software such as Adobe Photoshop, Coral Painter etc. Learning to paint digitally is easier if you are already an experienced traditional artist who knows the basic and fundamentals of color harmony, blending colors, composition and lighting.
Digital painting is a new emerging art form in which traditional painting techniques such as watercolor, oils, impasto, etc. are applied using digital tools by means of a computer, a digitizing tablet and stylus, and software. The major difference is that the artist utilizes the tools of the computer to create the painting. By using a computer and digital stylus, you can create different artworks using different styles and medium in front of your desktop computer.
Digital painting will still require composition, still require drawing, still require mixing color, still require steps to achieve effects, and still require technique and development. The language is different from that of watercolor, oil or acrylic, but it is very much the same process. Digital painting is not easy as it seems, it is not just pressing any button or using a command and you can create a digital version of Mona Lisa in less than a minute. A digital artist must still have a deep understanding of art in order to create a painting comparable to traditional art.
A few of the advantages in using a digital computer to finalize your digital art or photography compared to traditional art or darkroom photography are besides he the large number of painting and photographic techniques easily supported, mistakes are easily repaired. Digital is also a clean and environmentally safe process. Cleanup is not necessary with solvents or poisonous darkroom chemicals. As an artist if you wish you have an awesome choice for layering and transparent effects as well as making it easier to create linear and mass Shapes or lighting effects.
Another big difference with digital painting has to do with storage and the ability to reproduce an image. With any digital image the information (colors and form) are stored using numbers (digitally) within a file on a computer disc and can be viewed on a monitor. Providing a file is not altered after it is created – it will print the same image as many times as one wants without any degradation.
In many ways, digital art is related to lithography in that the art prints are the original art. The remarkable difference is that printing can be done on demand – rather than a run of prints. Set up time is negligible and as a result the quantity and even quality of the print is more in the control of the digital artist.
In addition, there are also multiple size possibilities for any one digital painting while still being an original work of art at any size printed.
Digital art is created digitally–using a computer with Photoshop, MS Paint, Coral paint, or other online programs. Most online art is digitally created and thus is digital art. The tools you use are as far as your imagination can reckon with.
Traditional art is created using mediums other than the computer–such as painting on canvas with actual paint in different mediums as oil or acrylic, or drawing with a graphite pencil on real paper, or sculpting a figure out of clay.
Utilizing the digital process compared to previous processes allows the artist as well as the photographer more flexibility and creative methods than ever before. Your computer and the programs are available as well as the brushes, colors, painting layers, shadows, highlights, to give perspective lighting for shadows reflections or airbrushing to give you whatever you need as a digital artist to create an original work of art as well as utilizing a photograph downloaded onto your computer to enable you to use these tools to create whatever you wish as well as to just leave it as it is.
There are many advantages to digital art over paintings in oil or acrylic or other mediums. The most important of these advantages of digital over traditional art is that since they were already created digitally, they will be exactly as you see them on the monitor and not flat. This is a frequent complaint of purchasing a print of an oil paint on canvas, for example, since here you only see the photograph of that oil paint and hence all textures are flattened and are not enhanced. You don’t get this problem with digital painting. On the other hand buying digitally created art as well as a photograph created digitally does not face this problem. Digital art or a digital photograph was specifically created on a computer that can be printed on canvas, paper etc.
With a digital painting or a photograph produced digitally, If you insist on having some texture to the touch as well as to the eyes, and wish to imitate what many of us have been used to seeing for years in the traditional paintings in museums and galleries, this can also be accomplished by printing on canvas or also by printing on the many different paper finishes available, as rag, linen, satin, matte, gloss, etc. You can also use art gels to create an impasto oil structure, by matte painting on top of the canvas print or if you wish oil or acrylic paints can be applied on top of the colors to give you the feel of an oil painting.
A great advantage of digital whether it is painting or in photography is that your final product is achieved by printing out the artist or photographers digital creation with his computer and printer with ink on to all types of paper, canvas, etc. In addition it is very easy to share with others and to print out additional copies, as well as to store your results permanently, as the print is only a softcopy of your actual digital artwork or photograph. Reproducing on Paper or canvas from a traditional painting and you are only purchasing a print of a photo copy of that art. All details and depth are lost reproducing from an oil paint to make it digital, and you will only end up with a digital copy print of the original. This is why so many people complain about buying art reproduced from a painting in digital print format. You can call it a Giclee or whatever any other name you wish except in reality it will never reproduce the brush strokes and feel of the original painting.