by Gerald Boerner
At the beginning of photography, two innovators offered very different options for creating these images on metal plates or paper without the need of an artist. The Daguerreotype, introduced in France by Louis Daguerre in 1839, created a positive image on a polished plate coated with silver. These images created strikingly sharp photos of people and landscapes. About the same time, William Henry Fox Talbot, in the United Kingdom, started creating negative images on silver-coated paper; positive images were created using “salt paper” and direct sunlight.
The process created by Fox Talbot, the calotype, was more of a mechanical process and produced less distinct images until other innovators contributed better processing techniques for “fixing” the images with sodium thiosulfate; Hershel made this critical contribution. This resulted in progressively more clear images than previously, being about equal to the Daguerreotype.
Most processes after 1855 used this two-step and the new wet-plate collodion process became standard. This advancement was a direct result of the previous developments of the calotype. From this point, the photograph became more lifelike, faster, and sharper than that produced by either the Daguerreotype or the Calotype. The durability of the images were also enhanced through the use of this two-step process. GLB
“Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.”
— Ansel Adams
“Life is not significant details, illuminated by a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are.”
— Susan Sontag
“In my photographs it is apparent that there was no posing at the moment I released the shutter.”
— Jerzy Kosinski