Camera Obscura is a photography method first used in the early 16th century, the Renaissance. The technique followed after the clever discovery that if a small hole is made through a dark room, the light reflecting off an object is passed through the hole and projected on the wall. Although the image appears upside down, the proportions remains the same. Artists in that age who could not access the various techniques/technology we have today, found this very useful in order to achieve accurate perspectives and colours. For example, the first known usages were by philosophers Mozi, Aristotle, and Alhazen. It was a technique favoured by even the greatest such as Leonardo De Vinci, who in 1490 used this in his detailed traced sketches. By 1700, the technique became so frequent, many artists became familiar with it. They were using it to portray realism. Realism: the idea of attempting to refrain from striking and supernatural elements, embracing the piece's non artificial beauty. Although many would question that to embrace a natural feel, surely you would just use simply your eyes. However the technique makes available a maintained focus whilst providing the lighting and overall allowing a larger aperture.
The worlds first photograph ever taken was by Joseph Nicéphore Nciépce, a French inventor who is historically well known world wide, credited for his amazing discovery. Nicéphore was able to conclude with his outcome by using Heliography (invented by his very self). A technique in which proportions correspond with the exposures of light. Following the death of Nicéphore, his fellow French partner, Louis Daguerre invented the first practical photography device: the Daguerreotype. In 1839 the Daguerrotype became free to the world after the French government bought its rights. Following this availability, historic images were created, such as the first photograph of a person which was then followed by the worlds first ever selfie! In competition, a British scientist and inventor named Henry Fox Talbot, published the process of a Calotype camera, based on negative light. Although the idea intrigued many, Talbot charged license fees for the process so therefore was unavailable to most. Due to its vast use, Daguerre's named went down in history and is even one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eifel Tower. Talbot eventually gave up on photography as he sued many, therefore making the Daguerre's process much more popular and successful. Ultimately, through communication and collaborations, photography was able to advance and grow and this is due to the era and the industrial revolution taking place which promoted and facilitated general acceptance.
The Daguerreotype The Calotype
Beyond the 1830s...
The Photograph by Graham Clarke
Graham Clarke, in his book 'The Photograph' begins with the first chapter named 'What is a Photograph?'. This chapter primarily explores the roots of the history of photography, including different techniques explored during the Renaissance which ultimately led to Nicéphore's discovery: the worlds first ever photograph. Clarke also includes the Calotype: the first negative photographic process, produced by William Henry Fox Talbot.
The chapter led me to not only be educated on the history of photography, but also the philosophy behind it. Clarke reveals that he believes through photography, we are provided with an insight into 'the dead world'. Not only that, Clarke points out photography is also 'a distinctive cultural product which reflects a culture's way with the world'.
Overall I think reading 'The Photograph' gave me a deeper understanding in photography, which allowed me to view photography, in a wider context, as a piece of art, however sometimes criticising Photography as being 'too accessible' in our day and age. Clarke's personal beliefs reflect his love for photography and admiration for philosophers such as Roland Barthes and their ideas about what a photograph may signify.
What is a Photogram?
A photo-gram is a photography technique in which objects are placed onto photo sensitive paper is placed underneath a light exposed from above. Areas which have been blocked by objects and therefore not been able to be exposed to light appear white in comparison to the black areas around, appear white when placed into developer for a few minutes.
How to achieve a successful photogram:
Step 1: Take a light sensitive photographic paper and take it over to an enlarger. (Enlarger: a machine that projects light on the area below it, used for developing film). The Photographic paper MUST NOT be exposed to light, and should only be opened in a dark room, or else the image, once developed, will appear completely black.
Step 2: Make sure the safe light filter is over the enlarger, so the paper will not be exposed to light as you prepare your objects. Then get your objects (particularly semi transparent objects such as bottles, light bulbs and protractors result in interesting outcomes).
Step 3: Arrange the objects in an interesting way on your sheet of photographic paper. The area blocked by the objects will eventually stay white whilst the other exposed areas will appear black.
Step 4: Now, take away the safe filter and expose the paper to the light for a few seconds. TIP: Making a test strip can ensure you have exposed your paper for the right time, resulting in the best outcome.
To make a test strip, you block a portion of your image from the light using black card. For example, in the image above, the person has split their image into quarters and exposed each section for 5 seconds. Evidently, 5 seconds is under exposed as the image is barely visible and appears too bright. And 20 seconds is over exposed as the image appears way too dark. We can gather from this test strip that 15 seconds was most useful as the image appears clear and in focus with the correct amount on light and darkness. Then, you can use this test strip to expose your further prints at 15 seconds to achieve the most successful outcome.
Step 4: Finally, you can develop your images. To do this you need to insert the paper into the 'developer', the first liquid. The chemicals in the developer bring out the image on the paper. Usually the paper should be left in here for 3 minutes. The next liquid is 'stop', a chemical process that stops the developing process from further progressing, which should be left for 30 seconds. Lastly, the image should be placed in fix which retains the images appearance, and prevents it from being changed when exposed to the light. This should take approximately 3 minutes. Then you need to wash off the chemicals by rinsing the image in water then leaving it to dry.
Experimenting with photograms:
Proceed with the steps of a usual photogram process, then rearrange objects and expose the images again. Then, develop the whole image and it should produce an interesting result.
Painting on Developer
After the photographic paper has been exposed using the enlarger, instead of putting the paper into the tray of liquid, experiment with dipping a paintbrush into the developer and create a pattern on the paper, which will then develop in an abstract way.
Pin Hole Cameras
A pin hole camera
Patrick Caloz - Pinhole Cameras
Patrick Caloz is a passionate photographer from Switzerland who chooses to capture urban atmospheres through the use of camera obscures. The slow capturing of light
Aperture is known in photography for the amount of light allowed to pass through a camera. For example, in pin hole cameras, the aperture is determined for how long the small hole is exposed to light, too much light could result in the image being over exposed which when developed the image may appear black. Aperture is so important in photography because it can change a whole images appearance. For example, it can set a focus on the image whilst blurring a background or even bringing everything into focus. Digital SLR cameras lenses provide an easier alternative to pin hole cameras, which are often unreliable with their results. Each lens has a varied maximum and minimum aperture determined as 'f numbers/f stops'.