A Brief History of Photography: Innovations in Chemistry Video Bytesize Science 14 November 2012
The history of photography
is rich with chemical innovations and insights,
producing hundreds of different processes to develop images
in unique and often beautiful ways.
But these historical images can be difficult to conserve,
especially since each type of photograph
requires a different preservation technique.
While two photos could look very similar,
they may differ chemically in dramatic ways.
This is where photo conservation scientists like Art Kaplan
at the Getty Conservation Institute come into the picture.
Art spends his days studying different styles of photographs,
their materials and the chemistry that gave life to still life
in the early days of photography.
His office is loaded
with drawers of photographic samples,
and a clear passion for frozen history.
In our latest video,
Art explains the developmental processes
of several types of photographs
ambrotypes and tintypes.
Tintype portraits of celebrities - in pictures
Taken using a Graflex Super D camera,
photographer Victoria Will
worked in a studio and lab
set up at this year’s Sundance film festival,
creating aluminium tintype portraits of actors.
With around eight minutes
to coat the tin with chemicals,
expose the frame and develop the image,
Will worked very quickly
and exposed very few frames per portrait
Tuesday 14 April 2015 07.00 BST
tintype UK / USA
The tintype format
was an early type
which used metal plates
to create reverse images
aluminium tintype UK
wet plate collodion USA
Chemicals are poured
onto an enameled
4-inch-by-5-inch sheet of metal,
rendering the colors differently
than in a traditional
While a positive image
is developed almost instantly,
the scene is also reversed
like a negative.
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