Drawing with Light: How photos were made a century ago
This is a camera. No really, a shoebox, a piece of aluminum foil with a tiny pinprick in it, a small flap, and a bit of opaque tape for light sealing is all you technically need to create a device which can take photographs. In fact, this is one of the photos it took. I made this thing in high school photography class and I imagine many other students started their courses in a similar fashion. So, what better way to introduce the topic of photography than with this obscure camera.
Speaking of obscure cameras… The camera obscura is an ancient… device? Eh...more like a concept. An ancient imaging thing that’s very old and probably was discovered accidentally many many times before anyone thought to make use of it. Its name is Latin and means “dark chamber” which should give you a decent clue about what it is. It’s a dark chamber but there’s a hole in it on one side. And because light travels in straight lines, if that hole is small enough it will actually cause an image to be projected onto the surface opposite the hole.
Now, we can go deep into optics junk and talk about diffraction and optimal ratios for the size of the hole vs. the chamber itself but I don’t want to do that so instead I’m gonna explain it like this; Imagine you have a piece of paper in front of you with a hole in it. You can only see what’s on the other side of the paper through that hole.
Now, obviously that limits what you can see, but if you move your eyes down - no, not just look - If you move your head down now you can see something you previously couldn’t. You’re able to see objects through the hole that are higher up because the angle that you’re looking through the hole has changed. If you move to the left, now you can see things that are to the right of your previous view. This is probably not a shocking discovery, but here’s where things get weird. If that hole is really, really small, now you basically can’t see anything through it.
The only thing you can see is a tiny speck of light coming from whatever is directly opposite the hole from where your eye happens to be. But the same positional phenomenon as before is still occurring. What you can see depends on the angle that you’re looking through the hole. Move down and you see things higher up, move to the left and you see things to the right. "But," I hear you say, "you can’t see anything! You can only see a speck of light." Ah! But that speck of light will change brightness and color based on the tiny part of the whatever you can actually see through the hole.
That was a confusing sentence, umm… OK so you can’t make anything out looking through that tiny hole, it’s just too small. But the apparent brightness of the speck of light you can see is directly correlated to the brightness of whatever tiny part of an object is on the other end of a straight line between your eye and that object which intersects that hole. That’s even more confusing. It’s just like before, move down and you see higher things. Move to the left and you see righter things. And vice versa.
But what you’re able to see is such a small part of whatever’s out there that all you end up with is a point of light. The hole got smaller, so the region of space you can see got smaller, too. So small it’s just a point. Now I know what you’re thinking. A point of light’s not useful, is it? Can’t make anything out with that.
Well that’s just a problem with your eyes. See, the goal isn’t actually to look through the hole. If instead of an eye you put a screen opposite the hole, then turn around so you’re facing that screen, suddenly that screen will reveal a projected image of whatever's on the other side. From the perspective of any point on the screen, only a tiny speck of light is reaching it.
But the speck of light that reached it came from just a small region of space on the other side of the hole. See what’s happening? Every spot on the screen is only getting hit with light from a tiny spot out there. Once it hits the screen and reflects off of it, that allows our eyes to see an image on the screen. That image will be upside-down and backwards because geometry, but still.
Pretty neat. How is this useful? Well, back in the days of yore you could build a light-proof box, put a tiny hole in one side of it, point it at something, then have somebody go into the box with a canvas, put the canvas opposite the hole, and use the projected image to paint an accurate (if laterally reversed) picture of a subject by simply drawing on top of the projection. The act of drawing over a projected image was called ray tracing. We’ll see how well that joke ages… Anyway, before long we grew tired of the really dim images produced by pinholes and started playing around with these lens things. We found that if you take some glass and make it all curved-like, you can make light bend as it enters and exits the glass and behave a lot like it does through a pinhole, while allowing for much more light to be collected and still form a projected image on a screen or whatever. That made the image much brighter.
And before long we started using mirrors and translucent screens to un-flip and de-upsidedown the image for less confusing and more accurate tracing. Neat stuff. But tracing was annoying. It took some skill, was really slow, and generally was just a bummer. Plus tracing was just the first step.
If you wanted, like, shading and color you’d need some sort of artist. Where are you gonna get one of those? Photography was born as a means to eliminate the human-drawing part of the camera obscura. The name photography is actually quite fitting for what it does.
Its Greek roots translate to "drawing with light." If we could somehow use the light itself to make a drawing, we’d save a lot of headaches. We had a pretty good idea of what needed to be invented; some sort of light-sensitive material. And boy did lots of people take their cracks at this. One of the most well-known early photographic techniques was the daguerreotype, named for its inventor Louis Daguerre.
This was the first photographic process to attain widespread adoption, announced to the public in 1839. Now, I’m not going deep into the history of photography here but I will talk about this photographic process because it’s chemically quite similar to the modern-day black and white process. The implementation is just a little - no, strike that. Really wonky.
Daguerre took highly-polished plates of silver-coated copper and, in the dark, exposed them to iodine gas (later other halogens — chlorine and bromine — would also be used). This changed the very top surface of the plate’s coating from pure silver to halides of silver, in the case of iodine specifically that would be silver iodide, and at this point the plate was now light-sensitive. These silver iodide molecules would, when hit with photons, undergo a reduction reaction and revert back to tiny bits of pure silver. If you kept this plate in the dark until it was placed in a camera obscura, then used the camera to project an image of a subject onto the plate, you’d now have a plate where certain parts of its surface no longer contained silver iodide but actually contained pure silver. And of course those transformed parts corresponded to the areas of the plate that were hit with light, and therefore captured the shape of the image chemically. A drawing was made with light itself, thus photography was born.
However, at this point that image would not be visible. For one thing, you couldn’t expose the plate to light outside the camera until you had done some processing to it, but for another the image formed in the exposure is hardly an image at all. This so-called latent image needed development to become visible, and in the days of the daguerreotype that happened by exposing the plate to mercury vapor. Fun! Quick note, development didn’t need to be done chemically. Some processes took the camera-exposed plate and exposed them further to light through color filters. Others would simply expose the plate in the camera for a very long time but that had obvious limitations.
From now on we’re talking about chemical development of the latent image. The development process took the exposed spots of the plate with infinitesimally small silver molecules and enlarged those molecules into merely microscopically small particles of pure silver. Now they were large enough to be visible on the parts of the plate in which they were present.
The last step was to get rid of the silver iodide that had not been transformed into pure silver in a process known as fixing. Daguerre initially used a hot bath of saltwater to do this, but later sodium thiosulfate was used. And at this point the plate contained a permanent, viewable image. A photograph happened! Now if you know anything about analog photography you might be a little confused here. As was I.
I’m used to the thing that comes out of the camera being a negative image where areas hit with light become dark and so the image appears inverted. Yet the very plate that was in the camera is what becomes viewed in a daguerreotype, and they’re clearly positive images. Reversal film, also known as slide or positive film, is a thing but the process I just described is not that. Well, as it turns out, daguerreotypes are only sort-of not negatives.
Here, look at this website I found: “The experience of viewing a daguerreotype is unlike that of viewing any other type of photograph. The image does not sit on the surface of the plate. After flipping from positive to negative as the viewing angle is adjusted, viewers experience an apparition in space, a mirage that arises once the eyes are properly focused.” Sounds like I need to get my hands on a daguerreotype. Luckily, through the magic of buying two of them, I have one of them right here. We’ll get to this guy.
It’s not actually a daguerreotype. This is now handily the oldest not-book object I’ve ever held in my hands. At least I’m pretty sure. Daguerreotypes fell out of fashion by 1860, you’ll soon see why, so this is probably at least 160 years old. And literally one-of-a-kind, which is pretty neat I gotta say. Daguerreotypes were extremely fragile objects which could not be touched, so almost always they were mounted behind glass in cases like this.
This is a 1/6th size daguerreotype, meaning that the same sensitized plate was divvied up and used for six photographs. Would you like to see it? Here it is. This is really a lovely photograph. A woman and her infant child.
The “Anson” stamped in the border suggests that this was taken at the studio of Rufus Anson, a photographer active in New York from 1851 to 1867. So, given that this appears to be an Anson daguerreotype, it probably dates from somewhere between 1851 and 1860. For being so old it’s held-up pretty well, and the image looks remarkably life-like. It’s very sharp and highly detailed.
Just about the only flaw is this bit of tarnishing down here, and the fact that little baby Gertrude didn’t quite keep still for the exposure. Her right hand is blurred as is her (I’m assuming this is a girl)... hairpiece? Whatever you’d call this.
I’m no expert on mid-nineteenth century baby fashion! Oh and yes, that is almost certainly her right hand. Most daguerreotypes are mirror-images because of that pesky geometry thing. Some photographers used cameras with mirrors in them to un-do this but that was uncommon as it made the image less clear. Since this looks so good, you might be wondering why the daguerreotype fell out of favor. Well, I have the camera positioned as perfectly as I can for you to be able to see this. If I move it even just a little bit… that happens.
I had no idea daguerreotypes were like this. When you see pictures of them online, those pictures were taken as I took this shot. But you need fairly specific lighting conditions to do that because of how this is structured.
And this reveals how we’re getting a positive image out of the same silver-halide chemistry that produces negatives like these. The image is in fact barely there. If you angle the plate to reflect something bright, you’ll see that it practically disappears. And when you remind yourself how this plate was sensitized, you’ll probably figure out why.
Remember that this is a polished plate of silver-coated copper. The very top layer of silver was converted to silver iodide (or some concoction of other halides) to make it sensitive to light, and the areas that got hit with light then turned into… silver. The image is made of the same material as its backing, but that’s OK because under the right conditions that actually makes a positive image.
The plate itself is basically a mirror. If you position it so that it reflects something dark, then you end up with the unexposed parts of the plate appearing black. The areas that got hit with light, though, have impurities.
It’s still particles of silver, but they aren’t part of the polished mirror finish anymore. They’re sitting on top of what’s left of the original, un-converted silver. So, as long as there is some ambient light to hit them and become scattered, those parts will appear brighter than the reflection of darkness. This makes it an apparent positive, though with serious viewing limitations. Oh, and if you position it so that it reflects something very bright - well now you see the negative image you might expect because those impurities are now blocking the reflection and so appear darker than the background. Really, this is just… rather difficult to view.
In some lighting situations it’s practically impossible. But funnily enough under these studio lighting conditions... it's really easy. But it’s important to keep in mind that when these were being produced, artificial light was still coming from these things. The gas mantle hadn’t even been invented yet. I have way more opportunities to make this image pop than the people in it ever did. So it’s no surprise that as soon as we figured something better out, we flocked to it.
And this is that. The image of this fine gentleman appears on an ambrotype. Ambrotypes were an implementation of the wet collodion process.
Not to be confused with the Nick collodion process. Here, collodion, which is a syrupy alcohol and ether-based solution of nitrocellulose, is used as a carrier medium for particles of silver halides. It was much easier to produce plates this way since they didn’t require the perfectly polished surface that daguerreotypes did.
After coating a plate of glass in iodized collodion, the plate was then immersed in silver nitrate which sensitized it. Then when it was still wet it was placed in a camera, exposed, developed, and finally fixed. And this is the end result. Note that there’s some very subtle tinting done on the face to make a blushing effect. Hand-tinting was somewhat common in ambrotypes.
In this case the effect is so subtle I didn’t notice it for days, though it’s very possible the coloring has simply faded in the century-and-a-half since this was taken. If you look closely you’ll see that the light areas of the image appear to be floating on top of the dark areas. It’s particularly noticeable at the edges of his shirt and coat, also with the coat and the background. This was another trick to get a positive image out of a negative.
The dried collodion layer that contains the image, known as the emulsion, is placed in front of something dark. This could be done by varnishing the glass, or by putting velvet behind it, or even simply by using dark glass. In this case, I believe there’s velvet behind glass. Under intense light I can see some sort of texture in the darkness. To reveal the image, the metallic silver particles in the developed emulsion reflect and scatter ambient light, appearing a milky-grey or tan and thus brighter than the dark background they either float in front of or are on top of. Therefore the image appears as a positive.
While the image in an ambrotype is much easier to view than a daguerreotype, it’s also much duller. To attain desirable results the plates were underexposed, creating limited tonal range. To highlight the difference, notice how there is basically no detail to be seen in the man’s forehead.
Compare that to the woman in the daguerreotype. However, given that these were so much easier to view they quickly displaced the daguerreotype. Then again, the ambrotype was itself displaced quickly, too, once people had figured out that glass was a waste of time. In the later tintype the light-sensitive emulsion coats a sheet of metal which has been covered in a dark lacquer. In principle the image is created in the exact same fashion as the Ambrotype, but because of the inexpensiveness of the plates and likely due to the greater amount of practice that allowed photographers, tintype plates could go from being prepared for exposure to the customer’s hands with their faces on them in mere minutes.
This actually allowed the tintype to hang around for a long time as a sort of novelty photograph sold in places like carnivals. Think of it like an early photo booth. For those uses it clung to life into the early 20th century, and some people are still making them today for artistic or possibly hipster reasons. However, the tintype wouldn’t hang around for too long as a mainstay of photography because we had other ideas up our sleeves. Photographs made using the wet collodion process were still… finicky.
Up till now, becoming a photographer was a serious commitment. You’d need to be able to make your own plates, have all of the necessary chemicals, know how to operate a camera to make useful images out of it, have access to a darkroom, oh and you’d need all this stuff with you when you took photographs because the plates, again, were wet. They needed to be prepared mere minutes before a photograph was taken. Early attempts at making dry plates resulted in very insensitive plates which were quite rude and also took way too long to expose for portraits. So, the early decades of photography were limited to professionals who either had their own studios or who had built portable darkrooms and went from town to town offering their portraiture services.
Luckily for them, we’re all at least a bit narcissistic so they sold like hotcakes! Oh, and hats off to this 19th century dog lover. For photography to spread to the general public, a number of things needed to happen. First, we needed to develop some type of photographic emulsion that was decently sensitive while dry. Then we’d need to find some way to use that emulsion that was more user-friendly than plates.
Also cameras needed to get smaller. As luck would have it, all those things would soon occur. George Eastman, who had started a business producing Dry Plates in 1880 (by then we figured out how to make them decently sensitive) patented a method of depositing a light-sensitive emulsion on a flexible backing, which you might call a film, in 1884. Previously, in 1881 a man named David Houston had obtained a patent for a camera design which could use this roll film. I don’t exactly know how the timing worked out on that one.
Maybe he just theorized the possibility of roll film... but whatever. In any case, in 1888 Eastman developed a basic camera which held a long roll of this new film stuff, enough to take 100 pictures. He decide to make up a name for this camera and called it the Kodak. Yep, Kodak literally was the thing that brought photography to the masses. Eventually Eastman would rename the entire company around this made-up word. But also still his own name.
It’s technically still Eastman Kodak and has been since 1892. Imagine a world in which Eastman called it the Flarble. Anyway, the original Kodak camera was a small leather-bound cardboard box with two spools inside of it. One contained the supply of film, and the other was used to pull the film through the camera as you took pictures. When you had finished taking the 100 shots on the roll, you would send the entire camera to Kodak, they would remove and develop the film and send you back prints along with your camera.
Kodak developed the slogan "You push the button, we do the rest." Prints, you say? What is a print? Well, hold your horses. We gotta talk more about this film stuff first. With the development of the Kodak camera, no longer was the object in the camera the thing that made the final photograph. Now the camera was making those negative images you might be used to seeing, and there was a second step required to turn that negative image into a viewable positive.
I'm going to be covering that process in a later video on this subject, and for now we're gonna get back to the film. Although the first Kodak camera wasn't designed to be opened by the user, in no small part because doing that in the daylight would ruin all of the film in the camera, Kodak moved away from this model and began selling cameras with user-replaceable film. To enable this, Kodak developed film formats which could be loaded in daylight while protecting the film itself from light. One of these early formats, 120, endures to this day as a medium-format film. Introduced in 1901 for the second in their wildly successful Brownie camera line, the Brownie No. 2
(very clever name) 120 format is quite simple. I mean it's a… 120 year old design. Huh. Its golden year. Anyway it's hella old so it's simplicity shouldn't be surprising, but here's what it actually looks like. It's merely a spool holding paper that's been wrapped around it a bunch of times.
The paper is blackened, sometimes only on one side, to protect the film in the middle from ambient light. Now, this is terrible, terrible film so I'm willing to destroy a roll for you to see how exactly this works as a film format. As you unroll the paper you'll see that there are markings on it.
These help with loading the camera and identify when to stop unrolling it. Often there will be some sort of mark inside the camera to align these arrows with. If we keep going though we get to the actual film. And there it is.
A sheet of transparent plastic covered in a gelatin-based emulation of silver halide molecules. Absolutely useless now that we've seen it in the light but hey, now you've seen what it looks like. It's simply taped to the paper backing on one end, and as the backing gets pulled through the camera, so does the film.
[soft unrolling paper noises] There yet? Are we there yet? Well I won't let it go yet. On the backing you'll notice that there are a series of numbers printed. This is one of my favorite details of 120 film. To tell you which shot your camera is about to take (and thus how many you have left) many 120 cameras have little red-tinted peepholes allowing you to see these numbers. There are different sets with different spacing because, depending on the camera, different images sizes were taken.
Cameras which took 6x6 centimeter square images could get 12 shots per roll, and they placed their window in the center. The arguably nicer 6X9 centimeter size only yielded 8 shots, and cameras which took those put the peephole on the left. And...
this is such a camera. This Agfa Shur-shot Special is quite similar to the original Brownies, and the design dates from 1932. And sure enough its film viewing peephole is on the left. But you'll notice it has two. Ah, this camera lets you cheat.
Let's talk about it, shall we? These so-called box cameras, for obvious reasons, are about as simple as it gets (and for what it’s worth the original Kodak wasn’t all that different, though remember in that camera the film was not user-reloadable). All this is is a light-proof cardboard box with a film holder, film winder, a couple of viewfinders, and a very basic control panel. If you can call it that.
We’ll start with the controls. First there’s this lever marked shutter. Believe it or not, this controls the shutter. And on this thing it’s very basic.
This front lens element shifts the focus of the camera to infinity and can be slid out of the way for a closer 5-10 foot focus range, ideal for portraits. Behind it is the actual shutter, a simple sliding cover with a hole in its center that’s spring-loaded and blocks light from entering the camera. When you slide the lever over, spring tension builds until you cross a threshold and… [fwip] A photo was just taken! If there was film in there, of course. The shutter opens when you slide this across in either direction, letting light into the camera as its hole passes over the lens, and the exposure time is about 1/50th of a second. Skipping over the thing marked diaphragm let’s look at the time lever.
No, it’s not a time machine… when you pull this out a little metal stopper moves in the shutter’s path. This, with the help of a little nub on the shutter, holds it open if you want to try and take low-light shots. It’s up to you to figure out how you’re gonna keep this steady, oh but you could also use this with a flash if you opened the shutter, activated the flashbulb, then closed it.
And yes, when this thing was made, flashlamps were just becoming available but nothing was stopping you from using one of them old-timey stick things with some flash powder. And then the diaphragm. This gives you three delightful options. When pushed in all the way, there is no additional restriction to the diaphragm and you get an aperture of approximately f/13.
That’s a geometric ratio based on the size of the opening and the lens's focal length which we don’t need to get into the weeds of right now but the number describes how much light makes it through. Smaller numbers is actually more light. Anyway, pull this out to the first click and you’ll see it’s marked “filter.” And no, it’s not for instagram.
In this position there’s a yellow-tinted filter placed in front of the lens. Now, if you’re wondering why you would want that, well keep in mind that this thing was taking black and white photos when it first came out, and a yellow filter lessens the amount of blue light that hits the film. This can make the sky look more vivid by darkening the blue and thus making clouds pop, or simply give more natural images with early films that were more sensitive to blue than other colors. Then, if you pull this all the way out, a second restriction finds its way behind the first, reducing the size of the aperture down to approximately f/22. Alright, so let’s actually put this camera to use and take some pictures.
To load it with film, you simply unclip the back to open it, pull out the winding key from the body to release the film holder, and then the entire film holder assembly slides out. The main lens of the camera is right here. I’m not sure what its focal length is but it’s a simple meniscus lens. Nothing fancy. Now, notice there’s an empty spool up here at the top.
With 120 film and other roll-film formats like it, you need an empty spool to roll the film onto as it's taken. When you’re done shooting you don’t rewind the film, instead you keep winding until it’s all on that second spool. Then when you open the camera, you seal the completed roll (I’ll show you that when we get there) and you move the now-empty lower spool up to the top where it becomes the take-up spool for your next roll of film.
Before we load it, though, we need to decide if we want to cheat. Normally this camera takes 6X9 negatives, but these flaps here can be moved to block a quarter of the frame on each end. That allows you to take 15 or 16 if you’re lucky 6 by 4.5 cm pictures on a roll.
And that’s why it has two film peepholes. You can see here in the instructions how they’re meant to be used; if shooting full-size pictures, only use the lower peephole. If you’re shooting half-frames, shoot A first, then move the same number up to window B.
Pretty clever, though I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have just put a window on the right to show the closely-spaced frame numbers on the film backing. Perhaps they thought that was too confusing, or maybe at that time those numbers weren’t there. I dunno.
But that’s why you might only get 15 shots. Technically if you position frame 8 up here you might be past the edge of the film already. Oh, and I should mention, this is calling it B-2 film because of the Agfa connection. In Germany 120 film was called B-2 for… reasons.
So, for this roll I’ll shoot the full frame. Making sure the flaps are retracted and locked like any good pilot, I’ll get a fresh roll of film. I’ll still use this terrible stuff because I’ve got a lot of it to get rid of.
I’ll take it out of its seal, then tear the bit of masking tape holding it tightly to the roll, and simply place it here in the void space below the lens. It snaps right in. Now I’ll carefully pull this around the back, over these rollers, and up to the top, all the while pushing on the supply roll to make sure it doesn’t fall out. Also you can just rest this on the table, that works too.
This is always a little bit fiddly, sometimes it makes sense to remove the take-up spool and start threading it a bit. You could also use tape — sometimes even the tape that sealed the roll — to affix it to the take-up spool. Good news is there’s lots of backing paper. Anyway, once you’re sure it’s not gonna slip off the spool you can then carefully put the carrier back in the camera, push in the winding key, and start turning it.
Technically I could close the camera at this point, but I’ll keep turning until I see the index arrow appear. Now I’ll close it up and the camera is ready for use. Well, almost. Now we need to wind the film while looking through that little peephole. Remember we’re shooting the full frame so we can ignore the top window, B. As I keep winding eventually those warning marks will appear, telling me to slow down.
And then, once the number 1 is visible in that window, the first frame of film is in place and ready to be exposed. A while back I mentioned there were a pair of viewfinders. Well, that’s what these two lenses are for. On the top and side of the camera are simple viewing windows. You don’t hold these up to your eye, instead you hold the camera at about your stomach level and look down at them. You’ll notice that there are little frame lines for composing the half-frames this camera can take as well.
Otherwise the entire area represents the image-to-be-taken. And of course having two of them is not only magical, but also allows you to compose in either landscape or portrait orientations. So, let’s take some pictures.
To give you an idea of how this goes, I’ve set up a simple still-life. I’ve brought my camping stove and a tea kettle as subjects. Hang on, I just gotta light the stove and put the kettle on to get ready. While we’re waiting for that, remember that the film is already in place for the first shot. We can double-check through the window. Now let’s get ready and compose our shot.
We’re using the whole film frame, remember, so we can ignore those lines in the viewfinder. OK now that the water’s boiling, make sure the time doohickey is pushed in, I’m actually gonna pull the diaphragm out all the way to f/22 since this is in direct sunlight, oh and also I’ll be holding the front element out of the way since this is relatively close up. But now just hold the camera as steady as you can, flip the shutter lever over annnd…. [fwip] There we go.
On the film we now have a latent image of vaporization. [uncomfortable stare] And now we can take the next picture. However, with these early cameras, there’s nothing stopping you from taking a second exposure on the same frame of film. This little shutter mechanism will work every time you flip the lever so you gotta remember to advance the film on your own (unless you deliberately want a double-exposure but… you probably don’t). So, you turn the winding key until frame 2 appears in that lower peephole.
Remember we should stop it when we see 1 in the top window if and only if we’re shooting half frames. Since we’re not, just keep on going. And there we go, ready to take another picture. Rinse and repeat. That is until frame 8.
Once you’ve taken that, you’re out of film and it’s time to unload the camera. Before you open it, you have to wind and wind and wind with the key. There’s just about as much paper on the trailing end as there was on the leading end to protect the film from light, so just keep on going. Eventually you’ll see the paper end through the little window (sometimes, it's a lot easier if the backing is white) Uh, but you’re still not done. Just keep turning.
You’ll probably hear the paper slip past the rollers and eventually you’ll know you’re just spinning the roll around. It also gets easier. Once you're there, you can pull out the winding key, open the back, remove the film holder, and there it is. Your exposed film.
Remove it, and there will be some sort of seal that you can either peel or perhaps moisten with your tongue (or other wet object, though the tongue is traditional) and once sealed you’ve successfully used the camera. But now what? Well, this film needs to be developed. And it will be done using pretty much the same process that Daguerre was using, except with different chemicals. Turns out mercury vapor is bad for you. Oh, and I’m going to be the one that does it. But not in this video.
We’ve spent quite a long time on this subject and I think this is a good cliff hang… uh did I say cliff hanger? I meant stopping point. In the next video we’ll explore the modern black and white development process. It’s actually very very simple and just about anyone can do it with minimal equipment. All you really need is one of these and a completely dark room. Dark room. Darkroom.
Hmm. But you don’t even need one of those, you can also use one of these! A changing bag. But I’m getting ahead of myself, it’s time to cut to black. ♫ photographically smooth jazz ♫ No really, a shoebox, a piece of aluminum foil with a… [sigh] How many words did… was that? One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve. We got twelve words in and I fumbled up. One of the most well-known early photographic techniques was the daguerreotype, named for its inventor Louis… DA GUERRE But, I hear you say, you can’t see anything! Ya gotta start the… you have to be moving.
The words need to be moving. Otherwise this doesn't work. Some processes took the enc [then mouth noises] The last step was to get rid of the silver iodide that hadn’t been transform into pure sil.. You monster.
You missed a D. The last step was to get rid of the silver iodide that hadn’t been transdformed into pure s --- transformed is a word that suddenly I can’t say correctly. Remarkably lifelike. Just about the ed… I skipped a sentence! ...which sensitized it. Then it was placed in… whoops! Think of it like an early photobooth. To those use f… ARRGH! So… the early decades of photography were limited to professiomals. Sometimes words are hard.
I skipped the word “cardboard” and I feel like that’s important. With the development of the Kodak ca… oh. Darkening the blue helps make com....
You gotta read the words, man. You can’t skip ‘em. I bet you're wondering why those peepholes are red, huh? And what about those scenes in movies where people are putting sheets of paper into trays with liquid in them under a dim red light? Well have I got news for you. Video's a comin'.