In the beginning Photography Process

John Hershel & Anna Atkins

The cyanotype process, also known as the blueprint process, was first introduced by John Herschel (1792 – 1871) in 1842. Sir John was an astronomer, trying to find a way of copying his notes. Herschel managed to fix pictures using hyposulphite of soda as early as 1839. In the early days the paper was coated with iron salts and then used in contact printing. The paper was then washed in water and resulted in a white image on a deep blue background. (Apart from the cyanotype process, Herschel also gave us the words photography, negative, positive and snapshot.) Image above: Hershels ‘Lady with Harp’. Image below: Anna Atkins Asplenium Marinium; British, 1853. One of the first people to put the cyanotype process to use was Anna Atkins (1799-1871), who in October 1843 became the first person to produce and photographically illustrated a book using cyanotypes. The cyanotype to the right is from a book of ferns published in 1843 by Atkins. She was a pioneering figure in photographic history, having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. She was a botanist and her father a friend of Fox Talbot. Atkins book uses 424 cyanotypes (or as they were known then: "shadowgraphs"). The book was called "British Algae: Cyanotype impressions". It was printed privately and issued in several parts over ten years. Her book therefore precedes Fox Talbot’s own "Pencil of Nature" in 1844. Having grown up with a father who was a with Chemist, Mineralogist and a not so successful Zoologist, she had been surrounded with Science and contributed in her fathers work. In 1823 in her fathers translated edition of Jean-Baptiste de Monet Lamarck’s Genera of Shells her engravings of shells can be found, but it is her work with Cyanotypes she is widely known for.

Anna Atkins Cyanotype
John Hershel Cyanotype

Below is some visual research of examples on Cyanotypes.

The two videos above and below are videos of explaining the process of the cyanotypes.

Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi

Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi was a French photographer who invented the carte-de-visite, this allowed people to produce photographs on these bits of cards, its also allowed people to print a lot easier, and they were more accessible to middle class people who couldn't afford to have big photos printed. The cards were sized about 21/2 × 4 inch (6 × 10.2 cm) card. however by 1868 people realised that they started to fade so people looked for other forms of printing.

He left Paris for the city of Brest, in western France, during the Revolution of 1848. There, with his wife, he opened a photographic studio and made daguerreotypes. Leaving his wife to manage the Brest studio, he moved to Nîmes and began to use the recently developed wet collodion process for a variety of subjects in addition to portraits. These included picturesque groups of beggars and ragpickers and less artistic shots of athletes and labourers. By 1854 Disdéri was back in Paris as owner of the largest photography studio in the city. That year, he patented the small-format carte-de-visite, which filled a need for portraits that could be captured rapidly and inexpensively. As the name implies, it was derived from the calling cards used by the middle and upper classes in paying social calls. The suggestion that such cards might bear the caller’s image prompted Disdéri to invent a method of using a single camera with four lenses and a divided septum to produce multiple portraits on a single plate. When printed, the images, which allowed for variations in pose, could be cut apart and pasted on small cardboard mounts. Although this production method made portraiture affordable for the lower middle-class, the fact that royalty and celebrities sat for such portraits made them instantly collectible. Disdéri gained a considerable fortune from this popularity, while the effect of the portraits on French Second Empire society also was notable. By 1868, interest in the cartes had faded, and he moved on to other portrait formats, none of which brought him further financial success.

Below are some Carte-De-Visite examples


Created with images by maxmann - "camera old nostalgia" • Fæ - "Self-Portrait LACMA AC1992.197.44" • TJJohn12 - "Henry Louis Baugher (1804-1868) - Carte de Visite (Front)" • crackdog - "Carte de Visite of a gentleman, Pottsville, Pennsylvania c1860s" • photographicheritage - "Standing man (carte de visite by E. Disderi, Paris, France)" • GSofV - "0222 Young lady (1873-1883)" • photographicheritage - "Young boy dressed in provençal costume (carte de visite by Ludovic, Narbonne, France)"

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