Fantastic Factory


The Beginnings

The Epoch of the Daguerreotype

At the turn of the 1830s Joseph Nicephore Niepce, Louis- Jacques-Munde Daguerre and Henry Fox Talbot capped centuries of inventive endeavour discovering ways and means of recording on light-sensitized metal plates, notably the daguerreotype, or sensitized paper, the calotype, the light image obtained with the aid of the camera obscura. The first technique of the daguerreotype held sway up to the early 1850s. Though enthusiastically welcomed by scientist and artist alike, it was also ridiculed for attempting to compete with painting and engraving.

The inventors who improved upon the daguerreotype are listed. Included are Russia's first photographers in this field, notably Alexei Grekov, Sergei Levitsky, Carl Dauthendey and the Zwerner brothers, to mention but several. However it was Talbot's calotype that paved the way for modern photography. In 1848 Niepce's second cousin de Saint Victor, suggested replacing the sensitized paper with an albumin- coated glass plate sensitized by further coats of silver.

Then, in 1851 Frederick Scott Archer coated the glass plate with a colloidal emulsion. By the mid-1850s the daguerreotype yielded pride of place to the wet collodion process. The new technique enabled copies to be made. Photo-enlargement was practised.

The Achievements of Documentary Photography

"Studio portrait photography was common. Scenic and ethnographic photography was essayed. Photographers who took pictures of wartime events in the 1850s and 1860s included the Englishman Rodger Fenton, the Romanian Karol Popp Szathmari, the American Matthew B. Brady, the Czech Josef Bures, the Bulgar Andrei Karastoyanov and the four Russians Alexei Ivanov, Mikhail Revensky, Dmitry Nikitin and Karl Migursky who photographed the fighting during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

Photography adapted to the filming of events, social phenomena and scenic views serves to communicate with visual information.

Where Does Photography Stand Amidst the Arts?

Cited are comments about photography and its link with the fine arts. Its involvement in creative art was mostly denied, or at best condescendingly acknowledged. Quoted are Charles Baudelaire, Theophile Gautier and Friedrich Fischer.

Facts are listed as to the use of photographs by painters as auxiliary. Set out are the views on early photography voiced by the noted Russian art critic and historian Vladimir Stassov. The circle of fine arts refused to accept photography. However it was incidentally mentioned in writings devoted to the morphology of art. True, some perspicacious personalities in the world of culture predicted that the new technique for obtaining images would inevitably become part and parcel of art culture.