Category Archives: History of Photography

Pictorialism, the Photo Secession and Group f/64

Figure 1 - Henry Peach Robinson "Fading Away" (1858)

Figure 1 - Henry Peach Robinson "Fading Away" (1858)

Photography is the coalescence of art and science. The form itself was born of a desire in artists who were frustrated with the challenges of traditional forms. The camera obscura was arguably created by artists frustrated with the technical and monotonous tasks associated with creating an exacting representation of a scene or landscape. Nicéphore Niépce (one of the inventors of photography) himself did not have a steady enough hand to trace the inverted images of the camera obscura as was popular in his day, and Louis Daguerre was himself a frustrated artist. From these motivations the form we know as photography was born, and no sooner than the challenges of science were resolved, the desire to modify and manipulate the scene began. Continue reading »

Camera Obscura and the Optical Way

Camera Obscura

Throughout my photographic career I have oft heard of the fabled camera obsura, the great-grandfather of the modern camera. In fact I have made one or two of the devices on my own to demonstrate how it functions for some of my students. The camera obscura is, for those not aware, an optical device developed thousands of years ago. At the time, it was discovered that if one takes a darkened room and punches a small hole on one side, the outside world will be projected on the opposite wall upside down. Almost anyone who has studied photographic history will likely have heard that artists of the renaissance used the camera obscura to paint a scene as realistically as possible. Continue reading »