August 23, 2006

Eight early photographic printing techniques

Now that digital photography has gained such popularity, there will soon be a generation for whom getting photos “developed” will seem entirely foreign. It’s just a fact of life that as a new technology gains popularity, it overshadows the previous one, and that is especially true in the case of photography. Early photographic processes may seem quite strange to us now (egg white and salt?), but soon our children and grandchildren will start asking us, if they haven’t already, to explain why we ever needed to go to the store (or darkroom) to create the family photo.

  1. Daguerrotype
    Printed on: Silver-plated copper
    Materials used: iodine, mercury, chlorine and bromine vapors
    Inventors: Louis J.M. Daguerre in collaboration with Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1839)
  2. Calotype/Talbotype
    Printed on: Paper
    Materials used: silver nitrate, potassium iodide, gallic acid
    Inventor: William Henry Fox Talbot (1840)
  3. Wet Collodion Process
    Printed on: Glass
    Materials used: collodion, potassium iodide, silver nitrate
    Inventor: Frederick Scott Archer (1848)
  4. Albumen Prints
    Printed on: Paper
    Materials used: egg white, salt, silver nitrate
    Inventor: Louis Desire Blanquart-Evrard (1850)
  5. Ambrotype
    Printed on: Glass
    Materials used: iodized collodion, silver nitrate, chemical developer
    Inventor: Frederick Scott Archer (1854)
  6. Tintypes
    Printed on: Thin sheet of iron, covered with black paint
    Materials used: iodized collodion, silver nitrate
    First used: 1856
  7. Carbon Prints
    Printed on: Carbon “tissue”
    Materials used: gelatin, potassium bichromate
    Inventor: Joseph Wilson Swan (1864)
  8. Autochrome
    Printed on: Glass
    Materials used: potato starch. silver-halide emulsion
    Inventors: Auguste and Louis Lumiere (1904)

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