Masters of photography
As posted earlier I’m addressing the history of photography and will do so once in a while and just today I was reminded of the early beginnings of photography. I met with a Japanese friend as she showed me some photograms she got from a collection lately. I was reminded of two things. first my own stay in Japan and learning about a Japanese Photographer and of one of the forefathers of photography - William Henry Fox Talbot (1800 - 1877).
Talbot was an English member of parliament, scientist, inventor and one of the pioneers of photography. His findings and inventions of the early 19th century brought me to find out something about Hiroshi Sugimoto when I lived and worked for four years in the Osaka-Kobe area.
Hiroshi Sugimoto (here the link to his website) is an avid collector of old Talbot photograms which he included in an exhibition called Photogenic Drawings. He is not only taking photos but he experiments a lot with different photographic techniques. One of this techniques brought him back to the very beginnings of photography. in his exhibition Photogenic Drawings Sugimoto showed prints of original 19th century negatives made by the former mentioned British pioneer, William Henry Fox Talbot.
Fox Talbot invented the method of producing a positive image from a negative that we use in modern photography. In 1835, he created the earliest known negative using a camera, a "photographic drawing" of a window at his family home of Lacock Abbey.
Back in the beginning of photography Thomas Wedgwood had already made photograms - silhouettes of leaves and other objects - but they faded very fast and couldn’t be made permanent. In 1827, Joseph Nicéphore de Niepce had produced pictures on bitumen, and in January 1839, Louis Daguerre displayed his 'Daguerreotypes' - pictures on silver plates - to the French Academy of Sciences.
A little bit later Fox Talbot reported his 'art of photogenic drawing' to the Royal Society. His process was based on printing on sensitive paper. Fox Talbot realized he could repeat the process of printing from the negative.
Unlike the Daguerreotypes he could repeat the process over and over. He called this the 'calotype' and patented the process in 1841. The following year was rewarded with a medal from the Royal Society for his work.