Postulation of a different Photographic History

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by cliveh, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Some may think this is a bit of a mad thread starter and they are probably right, but perhaps it may produce some interesting thoughts and ideas. At the outset of photography we had the Daguerreotype and Talbot’s neg/pos process, with both processes running along with their various pros and cons. As we know from history the neg/pos process eventually came to dominate for obvious reasons of replication and for over 100 years it was steadily improved and produced many off-shoot processes, camera designs, etc. If we were to imagine the neg/pos process was never discovered and only Daguerreotypes were thought the way forward, how do you think this process may have evolved and with what imaginary off-shoots over the same time span?
     
  2. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    You really need to get with the times and get a digital Daguerreotype camera. Chemical Daguerreotypes are so dead....LOL
     
  3. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I have no problem with mad thread starters. Sometimes it gets slow around here.

    I do sometimes think that this site is too focused on process at times, and fails to remember that photography was a means to an end. To get a picture.

    All the processes and innovations all the way up to today is about the evolution of a tool.

    Granted there are nice hammers and saws and chisels and woods and glues but the goal was still always to make that chair.


    I do appreciate (and participated heavily) in many processes until now I'm enthralled in the D word. (world)

    I can understand the process fetish, the careful alchemy manipulation, the perfect negative, and the meticulous setting up of the shot, but the power and impact of the final image, I think, is still the reason for the exercise.
     
  4. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    The Daguerreotype process would be improved until it would be quite fast, with, of course, 3200 speeds, etc. Mercury development would be rare, being replaced by the (oh the name escapes me, developing by exposure to red light, figured out by the fellow who produced electricity from vegetables, I think his name starts with a B.).

    Grafmatic-type holders would have been common, and of course there would be motorized holders that interface directly into the camera sensing system.

    Anyways, Kodak would have gone nuts in 1975 with the first digital camera, and would have backed it like a maniac. "A true end to toxic mercury development!"

    Now, what wouldn't have happened is the motion picture industry. Yes, that whole industry would never have started without film. So when the consumers all grabbed the Kodak cameras in, oh, 1978 to 1980, the entire Daguerreotype industry would have collapsed, because there would be no film industry to prop it up. However, since it's much easier to produce Daguerreotype plates than film, niche players would still be in business.

    Another thing to consider is color photography. That would not have happened with Daguerreotypes. The introduction of a color camera for the consumer would have been absolutely fabulous.

    Of course, video would have been invented and used within its normal time frame. Color television would have become popular in the mid-1960's. Now, would there have been a color home printer for the video camera? I'm guessing late 1970's for that.
     
  5. MDR

    MDR Member

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  6. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I’m not so sure about this, as when ultra-thin metallic dry Daguerreotype plates came into existence, different formulation (but still direct positive) with much improved sensitivity, why not high speed capture on different plates in repetition and then projection by reflection.
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Just FYI, the major advantage in neg-pos systems is QUALITY. Pos-pos duplication causes inevitable deterioration of image quality due to the printing of toe to toe and shoulder to shoulder. Tsk! Tsk! Don't eliminate the most important factor and build on a weak link.

    In addition, at EK efforts were made to speed up and spectrally sensitize many of the old processes, and they failed. It turns out that the grains grown in gelatin are the key to today's HS photographic films.

    This is a nice premise based on totally incorrect starting assumptions that just, for me, terminate the discussion at the outset.

    Sorry.

    PE
     
  8. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    What would we have now?
    Digital.
     
  9. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I think you are missing the point here, as I don't have an incorrect starting assumption. This is not about preference quality chemistry for pos/neg V positive process, but generation of ideas. But just as an aside, are you seriously saying that the neg/pos process won on a quality issue against a Daguerreotype? I think not.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2012
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    D-types were a dead end in my opinion. I don't think there'd many offshoots from that at all. It's a very limited technique.

    Anyway, photography almost certainly started with leaf prints, long before Scheele and all the rest. Starting with leaf printing, on the other hand, I can well imagine an incremental process of isolating light sensitive pigments and making colour images and so forth.

    But it's really very remarkable that we are where we are with photography. There were a great number of shot-in-the-dark experiments done by people who didn't always understand what they were doing but whose curiosity and patience drove photography forward. It's really one of the most amazing histories in all of technology.
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I'd say things would not be that much different at the fine art level. Each photographic projection print from a negative is a unique entity, they are not all the same.
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Clive;

    My answer was to this statement "As we know from history the neg/pos process eventually came to dominate for obvious reasons of replication" which should have read "As we know from history the neg/pos process eventually came to dominate for obvious reasons of quality when replicated"!

    What would we not have?

    Color, speeds much over ISO 1 or 2, stable images (Daguerreotypes degrade much more than Silver gelatin - I've seen enough at GEH to convince me of that!), high quality duplication (see my alteration of your quote) and probably motion picture.

    That is what we would probably NOT have today.

    PE
     
  13. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    In an alternate time line, an alternate reality, this could have been the case. In that world where photographic development arced only down the path of the Daguerreotype. Since so many inventions and breakthroughs build on previous inventions and discoveries, a certain unfortunate chain of accidents, could theoretically prevent many modern products and techniques from ever being discovered.

    If certain discoveries/revelations/accidents never happened at the right time. place, or to the right set of people, a lot of what we take for granted would not be around. Things that have changed the world that we take for granted, vulcanized rubber, penicillin, Bakelite plastics, Coca Cola, and so much more, were from accidental discoveries.

    So it could be plausible that Talbot never got to invent his method for paper negatives in an alternate reality for whatever reason, and the thought just did not occur to anyone else in a similar position to take advantage of it, or develop it. This also happens a lot, great ideas get shelved as there may not be any perceived market interest or demand for it, or that there just isn't enough capital to back and bring the product out to consumers, or there is resistance to long held beliefs and change of a certain process.

    Well in this theoretical daguerreotype world, I think the process would eventually be highly defined if they had 100 so years working on it. High sensitivity/speed, even higher resolution, convenient coating and automatic loading machines, some way of making more than decent copies of images, very thin, light, and strong glass or plastic sheets to coat. If the speed/sensitivity of the material maxed out, then alternative methods like radical lens design and lighting would be employed.

    On the social impact side, things would be even more different. Photographic images would be less prevalent, for instance on billboards, and ads, most would be drawn and lithography or engraving would be king. Daguerreotypes would be restricted to the scientific, personal, and art collections. There wouldn't be movies maybe just acted plays.

    It would be a strange world indeed, but to them it would be just normal. Imagine a world where the analog process was skipped entirely, it would be a terrible shame, but to that world they think it strange that people here use silver to embed a latent image in animal gelatin, store it in little metal canisters, and develop them with a variety of chemicals to create a negative, before they did it again to finally make a positive. Quite plausible, I mean, where do you think we could be now if there wasn't 400-500 years of the dark ages?
     
  14. OzJohn

    OzJohn Member

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    I think that once it was observed early in the 17th century that silver salts darkened on exposure to light, the evolution of the negative/positive photographic process was inevitable.

    Even though it took until the mid-18th century for the neg/pos process to really emerge as the calotype followed by the wet plate, it was obvious from the start that silver salts produced a negative image and it would have taken no great intelligence to deduce that many identical positives could be made if somehow a single negative could be reversed. The idea was there long before it became possible to make the actual products and a process like the Daguerreotype was but a dead-end detour along the road - it was always going to be superceded.

    It's much the same as postulating what would have happened if additive colour processes like Autochrome and Dufaycolor had not been superceded by subtractive processes like Kodacolor and Agfacolor - there were technical people who had the belief that it was possible and there were others who had the financial motivation to ensure that it happened. OzJohn
     
  15. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    er, you mean, like, slides? :confused:
     
  16. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    in that case:stick to painting!
     
  17. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    in that case:stick to painting!
     
  18. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Photography and photographers would probably get more respect since every photograph would be unique and not everybody would be able to make them.

    Dominik
     
  19. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Isn't that the case now, anyway?
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    we'd all be wealthy, mad as a hatter and dead at 30
     
  21. Aristophanes

    Aristophanes Member

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    What's the photographic equivalent?

    lion_chair2.jpg