From the 1940 book, Engines of Democracy.
PICTURES have served mankind in two ways: they have answered his need for communication and his need for art. It is likely that the earliest drawings were intended to convey a desire, a record of action or a command to a remote person without relying entirely on the fallible memory of a messenger.
As these drawings became common they became conventionalized, losing their character as representations of objects; they became complex in implications, conveying ideas of motion and, finally, sound.
As the progress of human evolution is uneven we find, at any given point at which we may stop the motion, a kind of echelon with some men far in the van, while others are still at the points which have been passed by the leaders but struggling to catch up.
Thus while, in the Western world, we are using characters which have no significance as pictorial representation to convey the sound of speech, orientals are still using conventionalized pictures to convey ideas, and further back in the movement, tribal communication may be carried on by recognizable drawings of objects.
If, however, we stop the march in 1940 we shall observe an extremely curious phenomenon. As we look at civilization in the United States of America at this moment, there appears a lapse which breaks our orderly simplification. Here, evidently, having learned the ultimate refinement of phonetic code we have found it convenient to abandon it and return to the caveman’s method.
The bulk of our communication is no longer conducted by characters to suggest speech sound or even by conventionalized drawings to convey ideas—communication which requires intellectual exercise of a complex nature. Our method is to split this process into its two component parts, eliminating most of the cerebral function: we receive our news directly through our senses; either by listening to actual speech sounds or by looking at realistic and sensational pictures.
This method has spread, to such extent, from America over the rest of a highly civilized world that we may permit ourselves to suspect that it is an evolutionary advance of a sort: that, after eons of mistakes, we have recognized the rightness of what we call primitive conduct. It is as if, in the course of animal evolution, the will in the human protoplasm suddenly produced a sport with tusks and a tail as better adapted, after all, to cope with its environment.
Perhaps we have made an unwarrantable stretch, in comparing the primitive carving on a bone with the exquisite product of the candid camera or in analogy between the guttural chatter echoing through the jungle and the far-flung sound caught by our super-heterodyne magic. Yet the principle is not greatly different.
The difference is in the motive behind it. The cave man listened to speech and looked at pictures because he knew no other way of receiving communication; the modern does these things because he has not time to translate written words into ideas.
This is, after all, a cumbersome process whose tempo is far behind that of our action. Even for purposes of record, it is, as we shall see, no longer necessary.
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All of this, of course, has nothing to do with art, the intermediate phase of our subject and the source of the invention we are about to discuss. We enter here a special, rarefied province, a realm feared by the angels, into which, perhaps, we shall embarrass ourselves by rushing.
Yet, if we confine our discussion largely to history, to needs imposed by social change and to the invented answers to those urgencies, we shall not greatly transcend our theme.
The word “conscious” may be stretched to imply something more than mere animal sense of being. It implies the capacity for reflection upon things observed, for mental vision of things not seen.
Men driven to continuous physical activity—galley slaves or workers upon a modern assembly line—may never become conscious in this meaning. Such awareness requires intervals of waking rest, moments of inaction. During the whole of recorded history, the great mass of humanity has, therefore, remained unconscious in this sense.
As we look over the most recent period, however, we seem to see a broadening of the sphere of consciousness. In the nineteenth century, for instance, we find the arts no longer in the exclusive possession of a small, leisurely aristocracy.
Following the industrial revolution, there occurred a “rise” of hitherto inert elements of the population. As wealth filtered through the strata, bourgeois and even proletarians encountered leisure and hence reflection.
Released workers suffered, in new quiet moments, the same craving to possess certain visions and experiences and to preserve them against the passage of time as that which was felt by the cave man when loveliness invaded his opening mind. Thus, at once, the arts extended their field of influence.
A picture, for instance, no longer satisfied only the craving of an aristocrat for the possession of beauty or the crystallization of memory; it reached beyond him, now, to the shopkeeper and the mill hand. These persons, however, desired that the picture represent something familiar to them. Thus at the moment that the base of the arts broadened, their character changed.
The bourgeois could not understand the painting which was worshipped by the gentler class with its long heritage of education, its abundant opportunity for study. Nor did its unfamiliar content perform for them the nostalgic function of art.
“The ideal type is no longer princely, it is replaced by the features of the bourgeois. . . . The civilization of the Court which found its highest artistic expression in the paintings and pastels of La Tour and Watteau with their volatile, gay movements gives way to the middle-class culture and to the gray, heavy and massive colors of a David.
There appears the drawing of Ingres with its precise contours responding to the realistic inclination of the epoch and to the taste of a conventional bourgeoisie, studied in its dignity and aware of its duties.”
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In England in the Victorian age, artists watched the bourgeois rise and were simultaneously impressed by the decadence of the artificially maintained aristocratic taste.
Aware of the realist forces which were opposed by the romantic attitude of the queen and her court, and retching at the imitative painting and meaningless decoration in vogue among the remaining elite, a group of these painters formed, in 1848, the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood whose slogan was “back to Nature.” Their painting, under this motive, was adored by the semiconscious, reality-loving bourgeoisie.
In actual fact, however, the “P. R. B.,” as it was affectionately called, was caught, like everything else, in the vicious Victorian circle. Its painters had merely moved from one set of untruths to another. They wallowed in a slough of sentimentality from which even the prodigious propaganda of the critic Ruskin could not save them. They were destroyed at last by technological forces.
The chief difficulty of a “back to nature” movement in the mid-century was that most people had only the vaguest notion as to what nature was. The physicists, chemists and biologists were producing evidence in quantity and Charles Darwin was working out his great theory of biological evolution which would distress so many orthodox thinkers when it appeared in 1859, but the artist found such investigation of little value.
Thus the boys of the P. R. B., working in their teens to escape from accepted technics, developed the theory that a violent catharsis was the only effective preparation for the observation of nature “as it was.” This involved the subordination of perception to the function of seeing; in their painting they must, therefore, try to paint natural objects precisely as the eye received the images and before the mind had a chance to distort them.
Now the distinction between what the eye sees and what the mind sees is exceedingly subtle. Of all the sensory organs the eye seems to be the most elaborately connected with the brain. It is supposed, for instance, that with the eye alone, the full understanding of three-dimensional form is impossible; that here the eye is aided by the tactile sense.
A person who merely looks at an object, never touching it or moving around it, thinks of that object as having only two dimensions and if he attempts then to draw it, draws only its outline. It is only by perception, by the combination in his mind of different sensory impressions that he is able to use perspective or the technic of three-dimensional representation of a two-dimensional medium.
By limiting themselves, therefore, to mere vision in the horrid fear that mental prejudice might profane the divine Nature, the young men of the P. R. B. found themselves in a formidable position. As a result, their masterpieces have been called “precise and pedantic,” “dry and artificial,” “papery,” “wan,” “feeble dreams,” and calculated “to set back the implacable clock of time.” Certainly when stood beside the work of either the old masters or the new impressionists, their imagery seems flat enough.
Yet at the very moment of the brotherhood’s inception there was in existence an invention which would begin by leading them still further astray and end by showing the public, if not themselves, the error of their ways. This instrument possessed the power of separating vision from perception.
It could produce with no aid from the eye precisely the image that is thrown upon the eye’s retina before it is perceived by the brain. With it, the artist could discover what nature was without comment, without selection, without the use of other senses. He could then analyze the performance of the mind in relation to this vision.
Once he had realized the powers and the limitations of the new instrument, he found that the nature he saw here represented was not precisely the nature he wished to paint or, if he continued to believe that it was what he wished to paint, he came to the painful understanding that this mechanical, optical and chemical device could do it better.
The realization of the powers and limitations of the new invention came slowly. Ruskin, on being shown a daguerreotype in 1845, looked at it with stunned surprise, thought with disgust that it had done in a few seconds what it had taken him days to achieve, pronounced it a “glorious” invention, suggested its use by painters and finally heaped contempt upon it as losing the “most subtle beauty of all things.”
He and others at first confused photography with painting or drawing. This was natural because the process was new. Thus people believed that somehow the camera had the artist’s capacity for selection and emphasis and comment. They thought it revealed the true form of objects because it merely recorded relations of light and shade.
When they finally understood these things, painting took a new leap forward, artists suspected their perception no more than the old masters had done, and the belief was more generally accepted that “the great artist has not reproduced nature, but has expressed by his extract the most choice sensation it has produced upon him.” We shall return to this question.
Meanwhile, naturalist art came to an end.
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It must not be supposed that the graphic and plastic arts had struggled through the centuries without any aid from science or mechanical devices. Lenses were in use in the eleventh century and various tricks such as drawing tables with reference points, gauze-covered frames and so on were used from the end of the fourteenth century.
But by this time, also, the celebrated “dark room,” called in Latin “Camera Obscura,” was already in existence and all study of the history of photography must go back to this device, for from it derived the optical part of that technology.
The phenomenon of light coming through a small hole in the wall of a dark room and casting an inverted image on the wall opposite was noticed by Aristotle. Its recognition crops up again in the thirteenth century, though meticulous scholars are doubtful if any credit for an “invention” can be given to Roger Bacon and his contemporaries who studied Aristotle’s “problem.”
It is certain, however, that our old friend Leonardo da Vinci used the principle of the camera obscura in his painting and, as it is usual to give credit to this great experimenter for almost any invention, there seems no reason why we should not let the bulk of the honor rest with him. To us the much-advertised Giovanni Battista della Porta seems a mere promoter.
Daniele Barbaro describes the use of a convex lens in the hole to make the image clearer. But all this time the “camera” remained an actual room.
In 1570, Robert Boyle made a box which served the same purpose, and thus there came into existence the familiar instrument which became, by the eighteenth century, a regular part of artists’ equipment.
It was simply a box with a lens at one end and a screen of ground glass in the top. A mirror reflected the image to the screen, which was shaded by a hood. By laying a piece of paper over the screen the image could be traced.
While such tracings were helpful to the study of orthographic perspective and in proportional measurement, and though they became popular among laymen as “true” representations, they were very faulty records.
Luminosity and color values were scarcely suggested, and the moods of nature impossible to portray in such a manner; a scene in bright sunlight would look much like a clouded one except that the sunny picture might have more detail. The tracing was a mere silhouette.
There was little, therefore, in the tracing from a camera obscura to modify the pre-Raphaelite attitude.
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|Camera obscura, eighteenth century. Details show method of reflection.|
Long before history was written, it must have been evident to men that certain substances altered under the effect of light. Notable among these is the human skin, tanning in the sunlight, and when men first wore bracelets or loin cloths they must have noticed photographs upon their bodies in places which the light had not reached.
These, however, faded as sunlight was admitted—a difficulty which produced the worst of the struggle with the early heliographic experiments with silver.
The “tanning” of silver salts is said to have been first observed by Johann Heinrich Schulze, a German physician who, in 1727, obtained a sun print of a label on silver chloride contained in a bottle.
Far more penetrating were the experiments of Karl Wilhelm Scheele, a Swedish chemist, who not only noted similar phenomena but found further that silver chloride was differently affected by rays from different parts of the spectrum.
At about the same time a highly suspect story is told of Jacques Alexandre César Charles, a French balloon inventor, obtaining the record of the silhouette of a head thrown on a silver-coated screen.
Experiment now passes to England and we have the first authentic account of the chemical reproduction of an image by Thomas Wedgwood, son of the potter. It is vouched for in 1802 by Humphry Davy.
Here nitrate of silver was used and, after making many photographic prints by laying objects, printed papers, etc., on paper coated with this compound (in the manner of the modern blueprint), Wedgwood tried to get an impression from the camera obscura and failed.
He did, however, get temporary photographs of objects under the solar microscope. The great difficulty was that all these chemical records faded as soon as they were exposed to strong light.
Literally, this was not fading; it was the later darkening of those portions of the sensitized surface which had not been altered during exposure. After the image had been secured, if the whole plate or paper were then brought into bright, diffused light it would darken evenly all over, obliterating the image.
The problem, therefore, was to remove the silver salt from all parts of the plate except those portions originally darkened, and to fix the darkened portions permanently so that they could not be further altered.
Until this could be done, there was nothing but an idea and practical photography must be deferred.
At the same time, students of theoretical invention are quick to grasp the importance of one unconscious phase of this discovery. Wedgwood had produced a “negative”; that is, parts of the object which were light appeared dark in the recorded image and vice versa.
Had Wedgwood realized it, he had here come upon the multiple-record principle of photography: from his negatives any number of “positives” with their values in order might have been made. He did not, however, realize this and such realization seems to us pragmatists to be the very essence of invention.
For this same reason it is difficult for us to give as full credit for the invention of photography to the much-heralded Joseph-Nicéphore Niepce as some writers demand. Niepce, working some fifteen years later, was so distressed by the negatives he obtained that he went to infinite pains to discover a chemical which would keep the true light and shade of the object in the image.
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|Photograph by Niepce, probably created in the 1820’s.|
He found it, at last, in “bitumen of Judea,” which turned white instead of black on exposure, but the bitumen took ten or twelve hours to record an image which somewhat limited its uses for photography.
At the same time, however, he made the vital discovery that exposed (whitened) bitumen became insoluble in oil or essence of lavender which dissolved the unexposed portions. His pictures, therefore, were more permanent than Wedgwood’s though vague in detail.
He then made a startling advance into another field by turning the copper plates on which these pictures appeared into etched plates, from which, in a press, prints could be made—an approach to the idea if not the fact of photogravure.
At this point, experiment in the chemical record of light began to spread from the laboratory into the studio. Many of the early experimenters were artists. They were often mediocre painters, men whose gifts were inadequate to their desperate creative impulse.
Such a man was Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, who worked simultaneously with Niepce and independently of him until Niepce’s fearful suspicions were finally broken down, when they worked together.
Daguerre was a scene painter. He produced spectacular panoramas with trick lighting and magic changes which would seem extremely funny and naïve to us but were taken very seriously by the sensation-seekers of the day. They were called the “diorama.”
Meanwhile, however, while these shows supported him he played with the camera obscura or its twin brother, the camera lucida. As both he and Niepce went to Charles Chevalier, the famous optician, for lenses, Daguerre learned Niepce’s name, and having none of Niepce’s secrecy wrote him frankly.
Niepce replied guardedly to this letter. Daguerre persisted and after long delays, much backing and filling, “prudence” and subterfuge on Niepce’s part, the two got together and signed a partnership agreement.
There is something faintly comic about this whole performance. From the correspondence, an acute novelist could draw the complete characters of these vivid and utterly dissimilar Frenchmen who possessed between them such powers for the development of the new art.
Tragedy arrived, however, with Niepce’s death (from “congestion of the brain”) in 1833, four years after the agreement had been signed.
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|Daguerre’s camera and developing cabinet.|
Daguerre learned enough from Niepce to go ahead definitely to the full perfection of his beautiful invention. He continued the partnership with Niepce’s son Isidore, but on condition that Daguerre’s name only attach to the process. Together they tried to commercialize the “daguerreotype.”
They soon found that patents were futile. As soon as the process was known every one would be practicing it. So they decided to cede the invention to the state and receive pensions in return.
Daguerre showed a plate to the celebrated scientist and academician, François Dominique Jean Arago, who was “thunderstruck” and “boundless in his expressions of admiration.” There ensued a drama which obscured the recognition of true photography both in Europe and America for about a quarter of a century.
Arago caused the pension bill to be introduced in the Chamber of Deputies. To assure their vote, a proper publicity campaign was necessary. So, bit by bit, the fact of the new invention was allowed to leak out while the details of the process were locked in secrecy.
Newspaper reporters were shown daguerreotype pictures and became hysterical in their stories. “What fineness of touch,” exploded the ‘Moniteur Universelle,’ “what harmony of light and shade! What delicacy! What finish! . . . In a view of Paris we can count the paving stones—we see the dampness produced by rain; we can read the name on a shop. All the threads of luminous tissue have passed from the object into the image.”
From January to August, then, the public was whipped into a frenzy of desire to count the paving stones for themselves and especially to know how the plates were made. It was announced that the full revelation would be made at a meeting of the Academy on August 19. As dawn broke on that day a crowd collected about the Institute. Only a handful could get in but the vast “foule” pressed as close as it could hoping some inkling might filter out.
The next day the paper of Arago was printed in the news. The process sounded so easy that people stormed the shops for lenses, mercury and iodine, and all over Paris, boxes were pointed out of windows, at churches and at paving stones.
Within five months twenty-six editions of a handbook of the process were printed in six languages and box-pointing took place all over the civilized world. Daguerre gave public demonstrations and the daguerreotype became a vogue, a craze, “le dernier cri,” and was exploited far beyond its deserts and, unhappily, to the long exclusion of superior processes.
The generous pensions of the beneficent French Government amounted to $800 (annually) apiece to Daguerre and Isidore Niepce.
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|Daguerreotype image created on a silver-plated sheet of copper.|
Daguerre’s process seems cumbersome to us. A silver-plated sheet of copper was iodized with the fumes of iodine crystals, producing silver iodide on the surface. On exposure this plate received a “latent” or invisible image. The image was made visible by placing the plate in mercury fumes at a certain temperature.
What had happened was a decomposition of the exposed parts of the silver iodide. The mercury fumes condensed upon these parts and not upon the others, thus revealing the lights and shadows with positive relationship between them: the lights being bright and shiny with mercury, the shadows in darker metallic silver.
At this point it appears that Daguerre had not restricted his borrowing to Niepce. The last stage in the process was to dip
the developed plate in what was erroneously called hyposulphite of soda, which removed the unaltered sensitizing and made further alteration from exposure impossible.
Here was the device of the Englishman John Frederick William Herschel, discovered in 1819—too late for Wedgwood—and one of the most vital inventions in the history of photography.
Daguerre—to what extent assisted by Niepce we do not know or greatly care—made one great step forward in the invention:
this was in cutting exposure time by using the “latent” image instead of waiting for the visible one to form. The procedure has been followed ever since.
It must be obvious to the reader that, beautiful, effective and valuable as daguerreotypes might be, photography as we understand it had not yet been invented. With the revelation of the Daguerre-Niepce experiments and the derived process the world became aware that the chemical record of image was possible but it was not yet aware that a further chemical record of that record was a practical, easy matter.
In other words, the principle of multiple record was left out of the invention. The nearest approach to this was in Niepce’s etched plates, which were inadequate and were not made by a photographic process.
Thus you could get one daguerreotype of a landscape or building, but to get another you must point the camera again at the landscape or building and expose a new plate. Meanwhile the view would have changed, subtly, under changes of light and atmosphere.
For the principle of multiple record in photography, we must now go back to England.
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|Daguerre plate from 1839. The image was recorded directly on the plate.|
William Henry Fox Talbot does not belong in the artist category. He was an amateur draftsman and sketcher, but primarily he was a scientist and scholar. He was a mathematician and a chemist; he made important researches in light and color.
Knowing the sensitiveness of silver salts, Talbot tried spreading silver nitrate on paper which had been previously wet with salt solution, and exposing it to sunlight obstructed by objects. He was so interested in the results that he began at once, in the scientific manner, to search for records of similar experiments.
He found the story of Wedgwood and Davy in the Royal Society’s ‘Journal.’ Here the great discoverer Davy had announced the failure due to inability to fix the image.
Such an announcement, says Talbot, “would perhaps have induced me to consider the attempt as hopeless, if I had not (fortunately) before I read it, already discovered a method of overcoming this difficulty, and of fixing the image in such a manner that it is no more liable to injury or destruction.”
This, he explains in a later paper, was “the iodide of potassium, much diluted by water. It was not as effective as Herschel’s “hypo” for which he abandoned it; the process is important only in that it kept him from giving up his experiment.
Talbot was already familiar with the camera obscura and had made sketches with it in Italy in 1833. In 1835, he combined the camera with paper rendered more sensitive by repetition of the sensitizing process, and produced a number of negative photographs.
By 1839, he had so interested Michael Faraday in his work that Faraday, having heard rumors of Daguerre’s discoveries, urged him to present a paper to the Royal Society in order to establish priority.
At this time, he had not yet discovered that he could get a far quicker exposure by removing his sensitive paper from the camera before the image was visible upon it and then “developing” this latent image. He made this discovery “rather suddenly on September 20 and 21, 1840 according to his own account, though it has been said that he must have borrowed it from Daguerre.
From there he went on to the invention of the “calotype,” patented in 1841.
Calotype paper was made by washing first in a solution of silver nitrate, then in a solution of potassium iodide. When ready to use, this “iodized paper” was washed in gallo-nitrate of silver made by combining silver nitrate with gallic and acetic acids. After exposure the negative was developed by washing again with the gallo-nitrate.
This may or may not have been an improvement on Daguerre’s process. The important point is that by it a negative was produced on paper instead of a positive on copper. The paper being translucent, an indefinite number of positive prints could be made from it by simply laying it over another sensitized sheet and exposing it to the light.
Later Talbot waxed the paper on which the negatives were made, making it more translucent—an approach to the glass plates which came into use when sticky collodion was applied to photography.
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|William Henry Fox Talbot “calotype” photograph of his half-sister playing the harp.|
Unhappily, due to the daguerreotype craze, the calotype was virtually unknown for many years.
In the interval, however, at the very moment, indeed, that people all over the world were rushing to obtain Daguerre’s shiny plates, a man who was perhaps the greatest photographer of all time was using calotype paper to produce pictures of the most exquisite beauty. It was not until the nineties that these lovely forgotten photographs were finally collected and exhibited to an astonished world.
The work which David Octavius Hill, an obscure, mediocre Scottish painter, achieved with primitive cameras and a relatively difficult chemical process still offers a challenge to the photographic artist of today working with Zeiss lenses and lights which capture an image in a millionth of a second. A book of these photographs has been brought out which, in addition to its intrinsic beauty, forms a valuable document of the early Victorian era.
With the Talbot process we come home. Experiment with the first Talbot paper pictures began in America before the name Daguerre had been heard here. Successful paper negatives were made by amateurs in Massachusetts before the Daguerre process was whispered across the Atlantic. This does not mean that such photographs had a dominant vogue here.
Unhappily, here too, the exclamations over their beauty and usefulness were drowned by the blare of trumpets that heralded the silvered plate. And there were other factors. Yet true photography containing the principle of multiple record was far more attuned to the dominant note of our American economy.
The rise of the lower classes in America was not contemporaneous with that in Europe. Here, indeed, there was no such rise, nor were there, in the accepted sense, any lower classes. This does not mean that we were wholly democratic from the start, though the wilderness had begun its levelling work even in colonial days. But in the sense of being conscious and dominant bourgeois, we were always so.
It is probable that we were more conscious in regard to the arts in our colonial period than later when physical activity became so universal. It is nevertheless true that in the 1840’s almost our entire population was in the position which the lower classes of Europe were still struggling to attain. In our infant industries, foreigners were just beginning to replace natives in the duller jobs.
Most people in the East had their eyes on the West, to which movement had become continuous. The West, the promise of land, the lure of a new life and the succession of novel experience were great mind openers.
Among the actually fluid people there was little opportunity for reflection, but in the intervals of movement and before movement began there was awareness of the quick passage of time and desire for record of experience, for catching and preserving the fleeting moment.
We must not expect much fineness of perception here. That came later as frontiers closed and a sense of permanence began. The emotional records demanded of art were crude enough. Fine painters like Samuel Morse were on the verge of starvation, while lithographic horrors were enthusiastically acclaimed.
Only in the oldest centers lived the small cliques who understood good painting, literature, drama and music and they looked to Europe to answer the small demand.
At the same time, the public met with avid and naïve delight anything which was new. Charlatans abounded, displaying novel pesudo-scientific magic, men and women gaped like children at any “marvel” or “wonder.” Crowds collected about displays of trick lighting and thronged “museums” or exhibits where mechanical triumphs were on show. Chemistry, so called, was a source of endless delight in all its manifestations.
The whole atmosphere of the cities was expectant, receptive, gullible; yet the passing show was not adequate without a souvenir, a news-story, a record of some sort: “something to remember it by.”
Could any soil be more fertile for photography? Rumors of the Daguerre wonder blew across the Atlantic all through the spring and summer of 1839. Then, in the fall, came the wonder itself.
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|This image of a young Abe Lincoln used the Daguerreotype process, here in America.|
Perhaps it was because the silvered plate was so glittering, so “expensive looking,” so realistic, so detailed, so splendidly adapted to preserve the image of a son or lover who would be gone tomorrow, but whose memory would remain in a golden and precious form—perhaps it was these properties that gave this cumbersome toy such a hold on the American people.
Perhaps it was its trickiness, the fact that it must be held at a certain angle to be seen or the intriguery of its process, that so endeared it.
At any rate, we know that it persisted for more than a decade in the face of more convenient, cheaper, more beautiful competitors.
Its immediate penetration went deepest among the scientists and technicians of whom we had, at the moment, some of the best in the world. It is possible that John William Draper, in the thirties, knew more about light and the spectrum than Niepce and Talbot put together, not to mention painter-experimenters like Daguerre.
Doctor Draper caught the first faint rumors of the Wedgwood and Talbot efforts and, in 1837, had repeated the Talbot experiments and reached new optical conclusions which made it possible to adjust lenses to human portraiture while Daguerre was still asserting that such a performance was not practicable.
The instant the daguerreotype arrived with a description of its process, Draper seems to have been at work with “non-achromatic” lenses to sharpen the image and other chemicals than Daguerre’s to shorten exposure.
We do not intend to enter the tedious controversy as to who made the first human daguerreotype portrait. It is as certain as such a thing can ever be that this “first” was American, notwithstanding the wishful thinking of Georges Pontonniée in his strenuously Gallic history.
Alexander Woolcott and John Draper may divide the honors as far as we are concerned. Both were New Yorkers. Draper angrily defends his priority, but Professor Robert Taft in his carefully documented history gives the edge to Woolcott. It is significant, in any case, that Americans jumped at once to this phase of the chemical record.
It seems to have been in the spring of 1840 that Draper took his sister Dorothy to the roof, covered her face with flour or chalk, clamped her head in a vise and, directing blue light upon her, took her picture with an exposure of sixty-five seconds. On April 20, in the same spring, a New York paper reported that Alexander Woolcott “executes portraits with an improved Daguerreotype, in an incredibly short space of time.”
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Woolcott worked with an ingenious arrangement of mirrors, described in detail by Professor Taft. Both seem to have added bromine to their sensitizing material as a quickener.
Our old friend, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, who had by this time tragically abandoned his brilliant talents in art for the promotion of the electromagnetic recording telegraph, now took a hand and helped improve the portrait process. Morse had the advantage of having visited Daguerre himself in Paris before the invention was given to the world. He and Draper got together and opened a commercial studio which may have saved Morse’s life during poverty-stricken telegraph years.
The craze spread. Daguerre himself, aware of it, sent a man named Gouraud to America to give lectures and exhibitions, one of which made Philip Hone exclaim, “How greatly ashamed of their ignorance by-gone generations of mankind ought to be!” But, independently, daguerreotypers who were true artists, as far as their medium permitted, sprang up everywhere.
Best known of these were Joseph Hawes and Edward Southworth and John Whipple in Boston. The Langenheim brothers in Philadelphia, M. M. Lawrence and the Meade brothers in New York and, perhaps most famous of all, Matthew Brady, who was a fashionable daguerreotyper long before he became a war photographer. “Photo by Brady” was a familiar cachet in the fifties.
But in the small towns, even on the frontiers, daguerreotypers flourished. Spurred by love of gadgetry and “puttering,” they learned to play with cameras from whoever would teach them. “The earliest ‘portrait takers,’” Taft tells us, “were more besieged with individuals wishing to be trained in the art of portrait taking than they were with clients desiring to have their portraits made.”
The teachers charged good prices for lessons. And well they might, for prosperity in this new business seemed inescapable. The studios soon became luxurious and magnificent, furnished “seemingly without regard to cost, and merely at the dictation of a refined taste. The piano-forte, the music-box, the singing of birds; the elegant drapery; the beautiful pictures . . . statuary, engravings; all, all seem to impress the visitor with the idea of palace-like magnificence.”
But in the country, portraiture was merely added to the accomplishments of the jacks-of-all-trades. “Photography, phrenology and biology,” writes Ryder, “were all handled from our headquarters. . . . It was no uncommon thing to find watch repairers, dentists and other styles of businessmen to carry on daguerreotypy on the side . . . so it was possible to have a horse shod, your boots tapped, a tooth pulled, or a likeness taken by the same man.”
By 1850, there were nearly a thousand profesional daguerreotypers and in 1853 it was estimated that three million daguerreotypes were made annually in the United States. Even by 1851, American daguerreotypes were acknowledged the best in the world (due probably to better machine “buffing” of the plates) and in the London Crystal Palace Exhibition of that year, in which Matthew Brady won a medal, all Europe stood astonished at American examples of the craft.
It is significant that the portraits of Daguerre himself were nearly all made by an American, Charles Meade of Boston.
By the middle fifties, however, the art was doomed in America.
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|Portrait of Daguerre by Charles Meade of Boston.|
Meanwhile Talbot’s calotype, a means of true photography, became popular among the amateurs. One reason why this was not professionally adopted was that Talbot made the mistake of patenting his process here. The Langenheim brothers, entrusted with the licensing agency, fought bravely for paper photographs, but without success. They were far easier, however, for the amateurs.
Edward Everett Hale of “Man Without a Country” and other fame, made paper pictures while he was still an undergraduate at Harvard, assisted by his buddy, Sam Longfellow, the poet’s brother.° In 1844, Josiah Parsons Cook made remarkable calotypes at the age of fifteen, a truly prodigious feat in that dawn of photography. There were plenty of others who played with cameras to make the fine, soft Talbot pictures.
Yet when, in the middle fifties, the daguerreotype began to die, the calotype did not replace it. It was followed, instead, by the most cumbersome, tricky and difficult process ever invented for chemical record. The wet collodion plate had the one great advantage of lending itself easily to quantity reproduction.
Collodion is gun-cotton in solution. The solvents are sulphuric ether and alcohol.
It has, in itself, no sensitiveness to light. Its value to photography is in its stickiness when wet and because, when it dries, it forms a hard film. In its sticky state it forms a binder to hold the sensitizer to the glass. In it, when wet, were mixed what were called the “excitants,” potassium bromide and iodide or ammonia.
A glass plate was wet with the solution. It was then let evaporate till sticky, when it was lowered into a bath of silver nitrate. The chemist will understand the reaction which ensued between the excitants and the nitrate. The plate emerged from the bath sensitive; it was exposed while still wet and immediately afterward developed and hypo-fixed.
As the whole of this delicate business must be done in the dark, it took adroit work. We may imagine that in a studio with every device prepared beforehand, with dark rooms ready, with dust and weather kept out, with an ample supply of chemicals at the right temperatures and accurate measuring devices; with the necessary distilled water on tap from a tank; with trained assistants standing by, a skillful photographer might be able to handle such a process effectively.
Transfer him now with the whole of his equipment to a battlefield, remote from supplies, at the mercy of heat or cold or rain or storms of dust, not to mention the gunfire of the enemy, and we begin to see the genius of Matthew Brady.
There were other photographers in the Civil War. They did valuable work but Brady was the pioneer, the organizer who made successful war photography possible on a large scale for the first time in history. When the soldiers met a photographer he was always accompanied with a replica of the famed Brady “What is it?”—a dark room on a buggy, which excited universal curiosity and wonder.
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Brady employed many men and probably a majority of the photographs labelled Brady were taken by others, but he was their inspiration and their planner. He himself was under the aegis of the army intelligence department and he moved about the lines under the orders of the celebrated Allan Pinkerton, who organized the American Secret Service.
Nothing had ever brought home the grim reality of war like these chemical records. Far more sensational and terrific drawings had been made by the news-artists. The public was at once aware of the difference.
Many a man and woman who eagerly studied the goriest of lithographic horrors would blanch and faint at the photograph of a corpse. These bare records of the battlefield were often regarded as improper to show to women and children; the worst of them were hidden until a more realistic age.
Here then, with this hardest of all processes, comes the birth of the news picture. Brady could not take instantaneous photographs. As we leaf through this fascinating history, we grow aware of the stillness. The dead were beautifully posed for the camera.
In the faces of the living we see that response to the command, “Hold still, please !” It was all news none the less and it is history now, the best of all the histories in many ways.
The guns, the fortifications, the engineers’ bridges, the technics of earthworks, trenches, shelters, emplacements; of loading, firing, drill, the disposition of troops and, more human, the intimacies of the camp are here in a detail which makes the commentaries of Julius Caesar seem more than ever difficult reading.
But the Brady photographs were long lost and long forgotten for reasons which will appear in the next chapter. They were collected, finally—those which could be found—from attics, cellars, closets, local and government archives and put in books when that became possible.
We have described their taking here, for we are interested in births and Brady photography marked the birth of communication and history by chemical record of light. When this technic joined forces with the technic of printing, such records replaced much type.
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Meanwhile the art with its chemistry and its optics advanced. Photographers everywhere must have sighed with relief when the English physician, Richard L. Maddox, found that gelatin would bind the sensitizing material to glass plates as well as collodion and that gelatin-coated plates could be exposed when dry.
There was a new shortening of exposure time with this invention and prophets could see ahead a day when exposure would be rapid enough to stop the clock, so to speak, in the midst of quick action of the subject.
But, as silver-salt combinations became more sensitive, the camera itself must become faster. With the old trick of removing a cap from the lens and replacing it, new quick plates would be overexposed.
The subject of instantaneous photography always introduces a strange romantic figure whose name has been inextricably associated with the cinema. The name of Edward James Muggeridge seems to have oppressed the boyhood of its owner. Having early delusions of grandeur and, we suspect, a certain artiness characteristic of the epoch, he changed it to Eadweard Muybridge and, encumbered with this curious alteration, went from his native England to act as a photographer for the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.
While he was doing this somewhere along the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Leland Stanford, who believed himself (and not without reason) to be one of four owners of the sovereign state of California, got into an argument with a racing friend about the gaits of a horse. According to the usual story, the friend asserted that a horse in motion never had all his feet off the ground at once.
The tale has always seemed to us odd, for it must have been reasonably self-evident without recourse to scientific proof that such a phenomenon occasionally occurred: especially, for instance, while the horse was jumping a fence. But Mr. Terry Ramsaye, who has exhaustively studied the arguments, asserts that Stanford’s friend meant “at various gaits.” These are not specified.
At any rate, Stanford took issue, swore that all four feet were frequently off the ground at once and bet $25,000 on his statement. Imagining that photography would prove it— a fancy which shows the growing faith in the power of chemical record—Stanford sought out the expert Muybridge to try it out.
Muybridge tried, failed and, according to Mr. Ramsaye, was delayed five years in further experiment as a result of having shot and killed the seducer of his lovely young wife. By the time he returned in 1878, the camera had improved.
It had acquired, among other things, a shutter. Muybridge set up a white background to the race track, spaced out a battery of twenty-four cameras and by an electromagnetic arrangement, caused the shutter of each camera to snap automatically as the horses passed on the track. The result proved Stanford’s contention and, incidentally, altered the whole practice of art in the world. Painters and draftsmen of animals in action had, since the dawn of the graphic arts, portrayed their legs in impossible positions.
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|After a delay of 5 years, a result of having shot and killed his wife’s seducer, Muybridge found the technology for instantaneous photography. A horse can leave the ground in a gait.|
From here on instantaneous photography grew into a fact. The steps from this point to the magic candid camera which can catch the flight of a bullet are improvements in detail. Along with speed have come the beautiful panchromatic processes by which plates have become sensitive to many colors and show, in blacks and grays, the light relations of the colors to one another.
Natural-color photography is a separate field; its experiments date back to the beginnings of the photographic craft and cannot concern us—at least until we have discovered some social effect which black-and-white photography has not produced.
When Muybridge had made his thousands of photographs and published his enlightening books, photography entered a new phase. The world was now ready for the “snapshot.”
The social effect of the snapshot is quite different from that of the time exposure. A posed portrait almost invariably reflects posed thought. In the faces of the sitters (“patients,” they were sometimes called) we see the pain of non-motion, varied according to the temperament of the victim, the effort to look one’s best, the sense of all the emotions of friends and relatives upon looking at the finished image, the artificial concentration—all of which could be controlled to some extent by the artistry of the operator.
There is smugness or synthetic fear, a falsity of some sort in the run-of-the-mill, time-exposure portraits. Many studio photographers have never overcome it.
When the snapshot caught unwary friends, there was none of this. Good and evil showed plain in the sudden capture. Intimate, naïve, fresh, funny, intensely characteristic expressions of faces, arms and legs, opened the mind to new frankness, new awareness of truth, its beauty and its danger.
Nothing could be concealed from the snapshot and so it showed the way to what we have called our hard, clean nakedness of today. At the same time, it began the invasion of our privacy. It bared to the eyes of friends and enemies our private meditations and our deeper reticences, our intimate intents, our loves and our hates.
Yet, in America, there seems to have come a dominant warmth and happiness in our play with this device. It came along with the bicycle and is symbolic of the new delicious freedoms of that age. The little instrument goes out into new worlds, on long bucolic rides, its images keep the possession of the rarest moments of sky or scene or friendship; they restore youth in the mind, renew the quick jumps of the heart in breathless meetings, bring the smell of cut hay and salt marshes into city cliff-dwellings, lure us back to quiet bays where once the wild geese flew.
We may resent the awful candidness which, in the heartless maneuvers of press photographers, catches us today tipsy or distressed, wounded or dead, but that is another story with other implications. The snapshot age was personal, careless and happy.
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It allied itself, of course, with the trend we shall see presently in grander phases: the interplay of democracy and mass production. Even in the pre-Ford era, one man at least seems to have been aware of the trend. He made the snapshot cheap and he made it easy; he made it universal and democratic.
The snap-shot may not be art, but what is art? Even the snapshot performed one of its functions to opening minds.
The greatest demonstration of this pioneer’s genius came with the name of the instrument. “Ko?” queries the released, expectant spring, “Dak” answers the closed shutter with definite finality. The trick of onomatopoeia has seldom reached more superb heights.
It must be remembered that, in the seventies, a person must needs be deeply in love with the hobby of photography in order to be a successful photographic amateur.
There was no simple business of dropping in at a store and buying ready-to-use plates. Nor could such plates, when exposed, be taken to another store and left for development and printing. Only the glass and chemicals, mixing trays, printing frames, could be bought from such photographic supply houses as E. Anthony and the Scovills.
The amateur must prepare his own bath, coat his own plates with sensitizer and then develop them. With the wet plates this entailed the carrying of so much equipment that photography could never be incidental to other enjoyment.
The gelatin dry plates which need not be developed on the spot were much easier, and quite compact little outfits were designed for their use. But the coating of dry plates was even more difficult than that of wet ones.
The amateur could be recognized anywhere in those days by the ineradicable stains on his fingers, and housekeepers where he lived were desperate about the condition of rugs and furniture, the smells and the disorder.
It was these conditions that George Eastman decided to correct.
If there’s such a thing as a “born capitalist,” Eastman was one. The stories of his boyhood are less concerned with science and invention than with ingenuity in making money work. He saved it with a skill that is astonishing when we see how adequately, at the same time, he supported himself.
During the year ‘68, when he was fourteen, he saved $39 out of $131 earned, after paying his board, buying a quantity of clothes and treating himself generously to ice cream. The year following, he had salvaged $42 out of $233 earned, and included gymnasium, a vacation trip, lectures, a magazine subscription and his mother’s coal bill in his expenses.
By the time he was twenty-three he had accumulated $3600 in this way and he invested it in making photography democratic.
Perhaps it is true that Eastman invented nothing except ways of making a dollar do the work of two and devices for combining other inventions—often profitless ideas in themselves—into gigantic productive schemes. Can we, in justice, deny him credit for invention of a sort, though he rarely claimed such honor for himself?
The Kodak was not, perhaps, strictly an invention, but then the Kodak was not an instrument either, not a mere device: Kodak was a whole system of photography.
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The wet plate drew him first, but he did not stick to the collodion as so many others had done. He had himself taught photography, bought one of the clumsy outfits and immediately chafed under the burden.
He heard that some one had invented dry plates, but he knew that American photographers, their minds all glued together by the sticky nitrocellulose solution, were afraid of them. He resolved to find what was the matter with gelatin.
He saw almost at once that dry-plate coating should be a standardized factory process, not a hit-or-miss dark-room job to be done by a man whose mind should be occupied with the use, not the manufacture, of an artistic medium. It would be as sensible for a painter to weave his canvas.
Had no one thought of this? Yes, some one in England had thought of it, but Eastman was not the kind to be thrown off merely because an idea was not wholly his own. He went to England to find out precisely what the other man had thought. He found an English firm producing dry plates commercially in the English manner, expensively, furnishing a few plates as luxuries to people who could afford to pay for them.
Mass production had come close to a fact in many American fields. Eastman saw that this commercial process must come under the influence of the American mind—the mentality that worked with quantity and speed.
Coming home, he found that a machine could coat the plates more evenly than the hand and do it faster. So Eastman standardized a process for quantity coating with gelatin solution and soon he had a business.
It would be useless for us to go into detail about his vicissitudes. This has been done far better than we could hope to do it by the authorities we have cited. We are more concerned with the formulation of a code which be evolved from error and misfortune.
It was an industrial code, a business code, a thoroughly American code by which he democratized an entire field of human activity.
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The first plates revealed defects. They were quick and convenient; they did not keep. Hundreds of them came back from dealers, lifeless after a few months of storage. Long research revealed an inferior quality of gelatin.
Eastman took a tremendous step forward at this point, which we may note as posing definite, permanent landmarks in the history of American industry, merely by acknowledging his own ignorance.
It is so common nowadays for industrialists to engage experts, specialists, scientists, students in every department that it is difficult for us to remember that this practice had a beginning. Eastman was a pioneer when he hired academic chemists and formed a testing laboratory as a department of manufacture. When experimental chemists came to test materials as a full-time job, the plates acquired longevity along with their speed and convenience.
But in his trial and error conducted in the midst of a rapidly enlarging business, Eastman worked out another rule. There must be an “alternative” for everything. He tried, throughout his process, to keep two different, parallel methods ready at all times, so that if one step in production failed, he could switch to the alternative method.
Thinking, one day, in this pattern, the question occurred to him: “What is the alternative to glass?” He had already seen how, when collodion dried, it would peel from the glass in what was then called a “pellicle.”
Would that be possible with gelatin, too?
It did not work; the pellicle was too insubstantial to introduce into a camera. But by coating paper instead of glass with the gelatin sensitizer, the paper became a photographic material. Then, after it had been exposed in the camera, it could be removed from the paper after development and would then form a negative substantial enough, if carefully used, to print from.
Coating long strips of paper thus, the roll was produced—a good strong roll of photographic medium which any one could handle.
The working of Eastman’s mind here is plainly visible. He was dividing photography into two parts: an expert part and an amateur part. The making of the roll; its development after exposure, the delicate removal of the pellicle from the paper and the printing from the fragile transparency composed the expert part.
The taking of the picture, the mechanical rolling up of the medium to bring new sensitive gelatin before the lens were functions which any one could perform. Now, by standardization, by quantity-production methods, by substituting the scientifically designed machine for the faltering artisan hand, photography was released, for all time, into the realms of the artist and the amateur.
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|The Eastman “Kodak,” the first camera which introduced to the world the idea that anybody could take pictures. Redrawn from a photograph, courtesy of Eastman Kodak Co.|
It is probable that Eastman did not even “invent” the famous roll-holder. He put it on the market. At first it was a light-proof frame containing spools. On one spool was a roll of coated paper sufficient for 100 exposures. After each exposure, the turn of a handle brought a fresh Section of coated paper before the lens.
When the exposures were finished, the holder was removed from the camera, sent by the photographer to the Eastman factory in Rochester and was there developed and printed by experts. The holder, equipped with a fresh roll, was then returned to the customer. Roll-holders were made in sizes to fit any camera.
It was a short step from here to the making of standardized cameras. Now the customer sent his whole camera to Eastman when the roll had been exposed.
This seems like a step backward. It had, however, some advantages. The Eastman cameras were cheap, standardized, machine-made and good. With them came the flash of genius—the name, Kodak—and the celebrated rhythmic instruction: “You press the button—we do the rest.”
The epochal significance of this brief, sharp sentence can scarcely be overestimated. It is not surprising that it was caught up all over the world to point morals, philosophy and satire, to signalize a new era in every phase of human activity. It was spoken from the stage, it became the title of hundreds of political cartoons, adorned passionate parliamentary debates, was sung in Gilbert and Sullivan opera.
It is difficult to think of a “slogan” more powerful as a medium of gratuitous advertising in the whole history of such matters. Yet it was accompanied by its substantial proof. Eastman never failed to “do the rest,” and he did it beautifully.
Kodak became not only a household word; it was a household fact and its value to humanity cannot be calculated in the ponderable terms in which we reckon the blessings of steel and electric power.
The importance of Kodak must be measured by the mystical yardstick of pure joy. It made the passage of time tolerable to the common man.
These things happened in the eighties. All about us, in this decade, we see revolution: the heaving and the travail attendant upon the birth of the mass-production giant. Plenty of time will yet elapse before we recognize the stern features of his full maturity: before the thousand industrial children will spring from his loins. Meanwhile we shall watch him pass through sick and faltering intervals. Society was slow to nourish him to the strength which would demand its recognition of him. George Eastman was one of his most assiduous nurses.
The loaded Kodak passing back and forth to Rochester imposed a burden which, once the first excitement had abated, began to vex the amateurs. It was evident to Eastman that Kodak system was not yet complete.
Still in the back of his mind was the sense that the paper-coated roll with the delicate operation necessary to the separation of the pellicle was inadequate to a full Kodak democracy. Also Kodakers were desirous of possessing substantial negatives of their own as well as prints.
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|A Kodak advertisement in 1890. It put forward their most famous slogan, “You press the button and we do the rest” Courtesy of the Eastman Kodak Co.|
As a result of all this impatience, one of Eastman’s chemists devised a transparent material and put it on the market. Where he got the idea is a question which has agitated historians and investigators into original inventions.
But whether or not the notion of the photographic film was independently conceived by Henry Reichenbach, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals decided, twenty-five years after the fact, that some one had beaten him to it and the Eastman Kodak Company was ordered to pay his predecessor $5,000,000.
The predecessor was not a chemist or a manufacturer. He knew nothing about mass production. He was a humble Episcopal clergyman with an experimental avocation.
Hannibal Williston Goodwin liked to show photographs to Sunday school students and other parishioners. He had a magic lantern and the art of slide making from glass negatives was in common practice. Being poor, he could not afford to have these jobs done for him and being ingenious and facile with his hands, did them himself in his spare time.
As a result his observant, reflective and somewhat scientific mind pondered many chemical problems; among them the Gordian knot which had so distressed Eastman and his experts. He solved it, finally, with a serviceable nitrocellulose compound on which he applied, in 1887, for a patent.
The patent was not granted for eleven years but his application, nevertheless, established priority over Reichenbach. The reader is at liberty to review for himself the thousands of pages of records of “interference” litigation between the persistent Goodwin and the Eastman Kodak Company. It is one of the celebrated cases of Patent Office history and attests to the difficulties in which that institution was already, in the nineties, floundering and from which it still suffers.
In 1898, Goodwin’s patent came through. He tried to put his film into production, but he died two years later. His rights passed, in part, to Anthony and Scovill, heritors of the old Anthony photographic supply house, who carried an infringement suit against Eastman into the highest court where it was settled in 1914. Retroactive royalties were paid to “Ansco” and to the Goodwin heirs.
In view of the importance of the film to another vital American industry which we shall presently explore, it is our duty to give full credit for the invention to the Reverend Goodwin. It is a pity that he failed to receive his reward in person but this, perhaps, was not psychologically necessary to a man of his faith.
Meanwhile, Reichenbach’s film went into quantity production and built the success for Eastman that many of us remember.
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|George Eastman with a Kodak camera. The Eastman Kodak Company gave democracy to photography.|
In 1895 came the final triumph of “daylight loading,” by which the amateur was enabled to put in and take out his own film. The business of developing and printing then grew too large for the Eastmans to handle alone. Many professional developers came into the field.
A new crop of ambitious amateurs did their own developing. This had become simple with the application of the scientific method to the development process. The two famous experimental scientists, V. C. Driffield and Ferdinand Hurter, had worked out a time basis for development so that the photographer need no longer watch his plate or film to see the image emerge and the Eastmans were quick to provide semiautomatic equipment for the hobbyists.
In the period following the World War we see a shift of amateur photographic interest to Germany. This may have come about through a change of focus in post-war days from industry to artisanship in the temporarily defeated Reich.
It is certain that lens development reached a peak of refinement in Germany during this epoch that had never before been approached in the world. This progress brought the so-called “candid” camera—candid meaning simply clear and quick, a generic rather than a specific term—with all its doubtful social implications.
We have dwelt rather upon the artistic and entertaining results of photography than on its large scientific and educational benefits. These, however, will often appear in discussions of other phenomena. The value of photography to astronomy, medicine, physics, chemistry, historical and literary research, jurisprudence, war, crime-prevention, architecture, innumerable industrial processes may, perhaps, never be estimated.
Primarily it has brought a realistic attitude to the individual and the social mind. It may have been the predominant factor in the destruction of the romantic age.
To the graphic arts it brought a new phase. Released from the necessity of realism or representation in painting, artists have been able to move farther into the realms of thought; to portray ideas, moods, abstractions, to find new approaches to the emotions.
Art may now suggest instead of explaining and its scope in this far field seems truly limitless. It may portray light and color, wind and rain, what we call “the moods of nature” when we mean the moods of ourselves, all these things as they exist in the human mind—composite of thought upon a multitude of sensory impressions rather than the explanation of a single such impression “as the eye sees it.”
And photography, with the other arts released to this far wandering, has become truly an art in itself with defined limitations but giving to the photographic artist high creative potentialities of composition and the recognition of sudden aspects of value and color.
We must come back, now, to the point where we began to follow the picture cycle. Here we saw graphic representations used simply for communication—a use to which after countless thousands of years we have now returned with vastly better equipment.
But before we can fully understand the possibilities of this new use, we must examine the curiously delayed invention of the photo-mechanical process by which the photograph could be transferred to the printing press and thence go without loss of its detail, its beauty or its color values into the formidable mass production with which we are so familiar.
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