Early Processes 2

Photography Techniques & Processes

By:Alexandra L. Baez-Ortiz
Candice Thornton

1. Heliograph (Sun Print)

  • Developed by Joseph Niepce
  • Plates brushed with bithumen and exposed to light, then washed with lavender oil. They couldn’t get the silver to fix (to stop being sensitive to light)
  • The first photograph: "View from the Window at Le Gras", c1826 (8hr exposure)


2. Daguerreotype

  • Invented by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (used Niepce’s notes to figure out the silver nitrate process).
  • Exposures can last up to 60 mins
  • Developed with heated mercury vapor and sensitized to light with heated iodine vapor, forming silver iodide crystals on the silver surface of the plate.
  • Used silver nitrate coated copper plates (negative on metal)
  • Long exposures
  • Stored in Union Cases
  • One of a kind
  • Expensive
  • Very difficult to make
  • A normal daguerreotype studio would be on the top floor of a building. It would have skylights and expensive equipment.


Union Case- 
Popular cases used to store Daguerreotypes.
America used cases lined with velvet.
Europe used cases lined with silk. Fit portraits, hair, used to preserve a memento

3. Memento Mori (Remember Me/Myself)

  • Often pictures of deceased children (photography was expensive and long exposures, so it was easier to photograph kids when they were dead).
  • People would pay to have a dead kid photographed in order to preserve a memory.

4. Calotype
( beautiful print)

  • Invented by William Henry Fox Talbot
  • Talbot, The Oriel Window, 1837
  • 30 mins exposure
  • Uses a salt-coated paper, using silver chloride in a salt bath.
  • First photo process with negatives (intended to make multiple prints)

  • Used by Gustav Le Gray.
  • Unfortunately it was a bit blurry (they would wax the paper to make it sharper)


5. Albumen

  • New way of using calotypes. Gustav Le Gray used the calotype process with albumen plates to create composite images during the 1850s
  • Uses salted paper print from the calotype photo process.
  • Uses egg whites to bond silver to glass into paper. (Albumen refers to the part of the egg that is forming the bond)

  • Faster than the original Calotype process
  • Creates both negatives and prints
  • Le Gray, The Brig Albumen, 1856


6. Wet Plate Collodion

  • Invented in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer

  • Also uses negatives
  • Cheaper than the Daguerreotype
  • Required a portable darkroom for shooting because the wet plate had to be shot while it was wet. 

  • A glass plate is cut and polished, then coated with silver nitrate.
It takes only 15-20 seconds to develop the plate.
Potassium chloride is used to change the negative into a positive.
  • Difficult process.
  • Sharp, messy, reproducible
  • Interesting: Larkin is a contemporary photographer that uses the wet plate collodion process


7. Ambrotype

  • Uses the wet collodion process, however, creates an originally positive image, it’s a little bit faster and more sensitive to light.
  • Placing a black background behind the image creates a positive, and peeling off the black background creates a negative.
  • Pressed resin and wood shavings were combined to create a new union case for ambrotypes.
  • Brady, Ambrotype 1860


8. Tintype

  • Photograph on a thin iron plate with collodion.
  • Lasted a long time.
  • Studio staged photos star to appear.
  • Used for Civil War Photos
  • Cheap process, easy an accessible to anyone.
  • Thin enough to be mailed.


9. Cyanotype
 (blue print)

  • Invented by John William Herschel in 1842

  • Fore-runner of blue prints.
  • Uses iron salts (blue due to iron)
  • Fixed with water.Hippolyte, Bayard
  • Creates wax paper negatives.


10. Carte De Visite (Visiting Card)

  • Fore-runner of post cards,
  • Business cards
 used by high class people. Traditionally, an individual would present the card to the butler, which would be delivered to the homeowners to announce the arrival of the visiting individual.
  • Eventually more people started to use them as trading cards.

  • A camera with multiple lenses was used to take multiple pictures at the same time (aprox. 4-8 pictures)
  • Pictures of pets were also taken.
  • Celebrity cards circulate, scrapbooks begin, and trading cards/sports cards are created.
  • DWA Photo, Jack Johnson c1908

11. Travel Log

  • As Egypt, Palestine, The Middle East, And Northern Africa were being colonized by Europe, photographs were taken of the exotic, unknown, and newly discovered territories.
  • Maxime Du Camp (french photographer), illegally uses the calotype process to show images of his travels (Northern Africa and the Middle East.)
125 of his calotypes were put together for the “first” photo book (actual photographs).
  • Du camp often added a person in his photographs of monuments to give an idea of scale.
  • Du Camp, Thebe Palais de Karnak c1850

12. Stereograph

  • Invented in 1874.
  • Had two lenses resembling binoculars to provide a sense of a three dimensional image.
  • E and HT Anthony, Capitol 1867
  • JF Jarvis, Capitol
  • Unknown, The Sphinx, Egypt

13. Dry Plate Technology

  • Opposite to the wet collodion process

14. Brownie

  • Made by Kodak using pre-coated dry plates
  • The film was made of celluloid (used at the beginning of motion picture, very flammable!)
  • The first camera for the people. The camera cost only $1
  • Pre-loaded with 100 frames; people would use the camera, send it back to Kodak, they would develop their photographs and reload the camera with another 100 frames.
  • Advertised towards women and children: "You press the button, we do the rest"
  • Kodak was called ‘big yellow’, people loved Kodak.