This term I am enrolled in a photography class called Historical Processes. I have to say, it’s pretty amazing. Basically we are learning and using any process in photography invented between the late 1830s and 1900. If it’s an outdated way of taking, making, or printing a photo, we’re going to look at it in this class.
On the schedule for the term professor Jonathan Kline gave us, we have cyanotypes, paper negatives, calotypes, Vandyke Brown prints and more.
The photo above is of three photogenic drawings I made last Thursday. This was one of the first processes ever discovered in photography by William Henry Fox Talbot. You start with an ordinary piece of paper and make it into a photo by soaking it in silver nitrate to make it light sensitive, then exposing it under light with objects on the paper to create what Fox Talbot called “a drawing”. You can read more about the process here and here.
The coolest thing so far in the class has been not only examining these old (practically ancient now in our digital age) ways of making photos but working directly with the chemicals. I have been mixing all my own formulas to work with; never thought I would be dealing with sodium thiosulfate and chemistry equations in a photo class.
Learn more about alternative processes on this awesome website.
Make photogenic drawings yourself (carefully, silver nitrate burns!)
-India K, ‘12
P.S. The syllabus for this class also included a page of nothing but warnings about the chemicals we are using, including and “You will go blind”, and my favorite “If your urine turns pink…”