Hurter and Driffield—How Bickering Denied Them Timely Recognition

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Rafal Lukawiecki, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    I have just finished reading an article, Sensitometry Pioneers, by Ron Callender, published in Nov 2012 volume of the Royal Photographic Society Journal. I was astonished to learn that almost until a few days before Hurter's death in 1898 they had been constantly attacked for their crucial discoveries, and how those quarrels brought Hurter much grief.

    As many of you may know, the HD, or characteristic curve is named after them. Vero Charles Driffield and Ferdinand Hurter formalised the relationship between: the emulsion, light exposure, the action of the developer, and the resulting negative densities. This started the discipline of sensitometry, and thanks to them, photography made its first stab at defining sensitivity of photographic materials. Whenever I read Stephen Benskin's, Ralph Lambrecht's, Bill Burke's, or Michael 1974's patient posts, and the many books about the Zone System, I always think back to Hurter and Driffield. Pardon me for summarising what I read in that RPS Journal, but I wanted to share it with you, as it is not available online.

    In 1888 Hurter and Driffield pioneered actinograph speeding, which they improved four years later, as the H & D Speed System. That's where the trouble started, according to the correspondence unearthed by the article's author. Many dry plate manufacturers dreaded the idea of having a speed of their products measured by an independent, scientific method. Even worse, the authorities at the time, such as Captain William de Wiveleslie Abney, and other writers for the Photography magazine, actively attacked our pioneers through their writings, lectures, and even by supplying their own, mathematically shaky contradictions. They forced key Hurter and Driffield findings even off the very frst inaugural RPS memorial lecture, after their death!

    Apparently, all of this sat under a dust cover in a pile of letters at RPS headquarters, until it was discovered, by Callender, six years ago, after RPS moved to Bath. How sad, but also how nice that 130 years later the truth has prevailed.

    PS. Apparently, there is a booklet on the subject, called "Mr Driffield and Dr Hurter. Their lives & times in pictures" by Callender". If you search the web you can find references to it, I'll be getting a copy.
     
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  2. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    Interesting post. Thank you. For the last 35 years I've nearly always referred to film Gamma Curves as H&D Cures.:smile:
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Fascinating; thanks for summarizing. Surely this is an article to seek out.

    Somewhat related... I've been itnerested in that geenral topic lately and started reading, for the first time, Dunn's 'Exposure Manual'. There is a lot to be learned by going back to some of the earlier sources of wisdom.
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Thank you for shedding light on a subject that was in the dark for far too long.
     
  5. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Thanks Rafal!

    Must have been an interesting time. Wet Collodion was better than any dry plates, but inconvenient. Amateurs demanded the more convenient dry plates even if it meant they were slower than what the pros used. And there were general quality and consistency issues that had to be resolved too...

    (Your post led me to a preview online of .. Encyclopedia of 19th Century Photography By John Hannavy pg. 438 which briefly mentions H&D emulsion speed in a chapter on dry plate gelatin negatives)
     
  6. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    I love it. I hope they would have giggled, too. :smile:
     
  7. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    You are welcome, Bill. My apologies for the typo in your surname, too late to edit out my making it more British...

    I'm going to look up the volume you mentioned.
     
  8. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    if you want to see more of their work, i highly suggest the following book:
    W. B. Ferguson, The Photographic Researches of Ferdinand Hurter & Vero C. Drieffield, Morgan & Morgan, Facsimile Edition, 1974
    In the first half of the 20th century further valuable in-depth photographic research was conducted. Among others, Loyd A. Jones and his colleagues at the research laboratories of the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York deserve major credit and respect for their contribution. He and his team published several historic papers of which a few are most important to this book. Despite its age, this research is largely up-to-date and still a milestone in the evolution of photographic science. Contact your local library to obtain copies of these most valuable papers.
    Loyd A. Jones, ‘The Evolution of Negative Film Speeds in Terms of Print Quality’, Journal of the Franklin Institute, Mar/1939, Page 297 - 354
    Loyd A. Jones and C. N. Nelson, ‘A Study of Various Sensitometric Criteria of Negative Film Speeds’, Journal of the Optical Society of America, Mar/1940, Page 93 - 109
    Loyd A. Jones and H. R. Condit, ‘The Brightness Scale of Exterior Scenes and the Computation of Correct Photographic Exposure’, Journal of the Optical Society of America, Nov/1941, Page 651 - 678
    Loyd A. Jones and C. N. Nelson, ‘The Control of Photographic Printing by Measured Characteristics of the Negative’, Journal of the Optical Society of America, Aug/1942, Page 558 - 619
    Loyd A. Jones and C. N. Nelson, ‘Control of Photographic Printing: Improvement in Terminology and Further Analysis of Results’, Journal of the Optical Society of America, Nov/1948, Page 897 - 920
     
  9. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    Thank you, Ralph, very much. I have read excerpts from Jones papers, it would be interesting to approach the full works. I am fascinated by that period in the discovery of photographic systems and methods—I appreciate the shortlist, as also the extensive bibliography, which you have provided in Way Beyond Monochrome 2.
     
  10. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    I have just exchanged a few emails with Dr Ron Callender, the author of the article, and he has agreed for me to post his email address here. For the "Mr Driffield and Dr Hurter. Their lives & times in pictures" booklet please email finlaggan -at-hotmail dot com.
     
  11. Mr Bill

    Mr Bill Member

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    Hi Rafal, I'm not sure that's exactly correct. I have an older book which is a reprint of the 1907 Investigations on the Theory of the Photographic Process, by Sheppard and Mees. Apparently they were students, and had proposed to do independent study in order to get their BSc degrees. Their proposal was accepted, thus the book.

    In one chapter, they gave a "historical introduction" on the "sensitometry of photographic plates." It seems the standard method of establishing speed was to find a minimum exposure where any effect on the plate could be seen. It was later set to some specific density, at least for one system.

    Here's a small excerpt where H&D began to rock the boat:
    Sheppard and Mees note that "there has been considerable doubt thrown on the fundamental experiments upon which it has been founded" and that they intend to largely repeat those experiments, with better accuracy.

    Curiously, the modern speed systems have settled back on a single fixed density point being used, albeit with a specified (sort of) development contrast. If you've read Steven Benskins posts, he seems to be a fan of the "fractional-gradient speed method," which is more complicated. Stephen doesn't get much support for his viewpoint either. Just an interesting parallel.
     
  12. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Rafal and Ralph, thank you both for your references!
     
  13. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    i got a replythat this seems not to be a valid email address, anyone more success?
     
  14. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Very interesting. Thanks for posting that summary, Rafal.

    Michael
     
  15. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Even in Todd-Zakia, the 0.1 density point is explained as easier to find than the 0.3 gradient... Stephen Benskin just points out that it's the 0.3 gradient that fits the Loyd Jones print quality studies. And he shows us how to find it with the Delta-X Criterion. 0.1 density correlates to 0.3 gradient when the specified conditions are met anyway... so you really ARE using 0.3 gradient when you develop to ASA.
     
  16. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Somewhere along the way, I wrote to Ron M Callender, FRPS for a copy of his booklet "Mr Driffield and Dr Hurter, Their lives & times in pictures"...

    It is a great booklet.
     
  17. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    Not quite right. Even the first dry plates were faster than wet plates and it didn't take long for them to become much faster. The reason dry plate manufacturers resisted accurate testing was because it might interfere with the outlandish speed claims each was making to best the others. Which is faster: Extra High Speed or Ultra High Speed?" :smile:
     
  18. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Thanks for the clarification dwross,

    If anyone knows it would be you!

    Thankfully Hurter and Driffield eradicated the superlatives...