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Thread: How Early Could It Have Happened?

  1. #1
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    How Early Could It Have Happened?

    Now this is just really useful or productive, but it coughtmy imagination in the erly dark this morning:

    Given what is now known about various photographic processes: How early could some form of photography been done? The Daguerreotype process was published in 1839 of course, but years of experimentation in many processes had gone before. If someone already KNEW that it could be done, how early could it have been done?

    Mu guess is that Dags could have been made at least thirty years earlier. Of course polished silver and elemental Mercury were known in antiquity. For that matter, red glass was available way back too, so Becquerel development was possible le in ancient times too. I think the choke point was the isolation of elemental Iodine in 1800 or so.

    Now, what about some of the salted paper processes? What about collodion on glass? When could Silver Nitrate come into use?

    Anybody?
    Drew Bedo
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    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  2. #2

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    Re: How Early Could It Have Happened?

    You should take a look at "Burning with Desire" by Batchen. It's about proto photography and the lead up to 1839.

  3. #3
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: How Early Could It Have Happened?

    LEns technology oes back to the 1500s and Galileo of course.
    Drew Bedo
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    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  4. #4

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    Re: How Early Could It Have Happened?

    My understanding was that the chokepoint was fixing the image, initially with salt but it was really the identification of Hypo that did it. If so then 1819 would be the date.

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    Re: How Early Could It Have Happened?

    Hello from France!

    Before the official disclosure of the daguerréotype process in 1839, Nicéphore Niépce had experimented with the bitumen process in the 1820s. Dates are not precisely known since Niépce kept secret most things he was doing.
    However the "View at Le Gras" is a bitumen plate preserved today in the collection of the University of Texas at Austin. Dated 1827.
    https://www.hrc.utexas.edu/niepce-heliograph/

    Before 1827, Niépce had achieved some contact prints of old engravings on bitumen plates.
    Some of those very early prints were sold in France in 2002 at an auction.
    This newspaper article mentions a contact print dated 1825, reproduction of an engraving, for sale at this auction.
    https://next.liberation.fr/culture/2...en-mars_389791

    The Niépce museum mentions a contact print from 1823.
    https://photo-museum.org/fr/catalogue-oeuvres-niepce/


    At the end of the XVIII-th century (1777) the effect of light on silver halide salts was documented by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, but fixing the image had not yet been possible. The effect had probably been discovered before but not scientifically studied.
    Hence the bitumen process came earlier than silver halide processes to record a photographic image for the first time, by contact printing or behind a lens; and could have been discovered much earlier, at least in terms of available technology.
    In modern terminology, the bitumen process is a negative photoresist process, those processes are today used routinely in the micro-electronic and micro-technology industry.

    The bitumen process, too slow, was abandoned for photography, but continued to be used in the XIX-th century for photogravure: pictures printed in newspapers from photographic images were achieved in the 1860's if I remember well.

  6. #6
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: How Early Could It Have Happened?

    The discoveries leading to the carbon process began in the early to mid 1800s. Suckow in 1832 and Becquerel in 1840 worked with the effects of dichromate and organics, and Talbot filed a patent in 1852 for dichromate's reaction to light in gelatin, all leading to Poitevin's work and eventually the patent by Swam in 1864.

    People were playing with chromates in the 1700s, so all this could have been utilized earlier for producing prints.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How Early Could It Have Happened?

    Lenses in a crude fashion go way back long before Galileo, perhaps even to stone age use of natural glass for magnification. What allowed him to make a dramatic practical improvement in spy glasses, or telescopes as we now term them, is that someone had recently discovered how to produce relatively bubble-free thick glass, which allowed him to experiment more successfully. The earliest known photographs are from the early 1820's, as noted in a previous post. There seem to have been several experimental processes prior Daguerrotypes. I've personally seen a number of early prints similar to Talbotypes. And of course, many families in this country, including mine, has Daguerrotypes portraits of ancestors. We have a remarkable one of a great great great ... Grandma overtinted with oil color to make it look like a color image, with the eyes beautifully painted in (otherwise blurred due to the long exposure); but none of that helped with the puckered-in toothless non-smile.

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    Re: How Early Could It Have Happened?

    The Vikings apparently were capable of lathe-grinding spherical optics...the sphericity of which came close to that which would have been more typical in the early 20th century. The emperor Nero utilized natural crystal to aid his vision. The middle eastern mathematician Ibn Al Hatham made good use of a long prison sentence to develop theories of human vision - many of which proved quite accurate.

    Then of course there were those optical devices (camera lucida, camera obscura, etc.) being used by artists...from interpreting perspective to tracing an actual projected image - well back into the early 17th century (in the case of the lucida), a bit later for the obscura, which depended on utilizing lenses. Chevalier comes to mind as someone manufacturing some early meniscus lenses - followed by Voigtlander, Wollaston, et al.

    In terms of what we know about the history of actual chemical imagery - it was Josiah Wedgwood who (I believe in the very late 1700's early 1800's) really began to work this out as an adjunct to his production of ceramics - but he lacked the knowledge of fixing the image, which came a few years later with the astronomer Herschel.

    So...lots of ingredients coming together in the early 19th century. The thing thats always sort of bugged me about using bitumen of Judea on a pewter plate, to achieve a hardened image which was then washed with lavender oil (tried this with a class once - big fail!) - is that this, to me, is more of a mechanical process than a chemical one. With this in mind...I'm thinking that Fox-Talbot needs a bit more credit, and Niepce a bit less.

  9. #9
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: How Early Could It Have Happened?

    From Wikipedia:



    "In 1811, iodine was discovered by French chemist Bernard Courtois,[5][6] who was born to a manufacturer of saltpetre (an essential component of gunpowder). At the time of the Napoleonic Wars, saltpetre was in great demand in France. Saltpetre produced from French nitre beds required sodium carbonate, which could be isolated from seaweed collected on the coasts of Normandy and Brittany. To isolate the sodium carbonate, seaweed was burned and the ash washed with water. The remaining waste was destroyed by adding sulfuric acid. Courtois once added excessive sulfuric acid and a cloud of purple vapour rose. He noted that the vapour crystallised on cold surfaces, making dark crystals.[7] Courtois suspected that this material was a new element but lacked funding to pursue it further.


    Now the question comes to me: How early was Sulphuric Acid known?
    Drew Bedo
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    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  10. #10
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: How Early Could It Have Happened?

    And now for Sulfuric Acid. again from Wikipedia.

    "The study of vitriol, a category of glassy minerals from which the acid can be derived, began in ancient times. Sumerians had a list of types of vitriol that they classified according to the substances' color. Some of the earliest discussions on the origin and properties of vitriol is in the works of the Greek physician Dioscorides (first century AD) and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD). Galen also discussed its medical use. Metallurgical uses for vitriolic substances were recorded in the Hellenistic alchemical works of Zosimos of Panopolis, in the treatise Phisica."
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com
    http://www.artsyhome.com/author/drew-bedo




    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

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