Lesson task – Photography History and Functions

Throughout this lesson you’ve learnt about the various techniques used and inventors that contributed to the art form that is Photography. Choose only one, do some additional research and in your own words write a report on why you think the chosen technique contributed to what we are able to do today through photography.

  • Explain your research and choice of technique.

My choice of technique is the ambrotype, a technique that is an extension of the wet collodion process invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1948. Wet collodion was used to create photographies from adding a soluble iodide to a solution of collodion and further coating the glass plate with this. Then the plate was covered in a solution of silver nitrate, and the wet plate was then exposed in the camera. Lastly, it was developed by means of pouring pyrogallic acid over it and fixing it with sodium thiosulfate (or later potassium cyanide). This development had to happen immediately before the collodion film dried.

Although Archer experimented with ambrotype it was further refined and patented by James Ambrose Cutting in 1854, hence the name of the technique. Ambrotype is where you underexpose a glass negative and place it against a darkened back (paper, fabric or lacquer painted onto the uncoated side of the plate). It was considered a cheaper form of portraiture, making it more accessible to the “commoners”.

As these “pictures” were produced directly in the camera, photography became easier, no dark room tent or portable lab was needed. In my opinion this development contributed immensely to the development of photography from something of an experiment to an activity much closer to what photography taking is today. This process actually became most popular in Japan where they continued to use this technique long after paper processes had taken over as the main method in Europe and the US.

One cannot overstate how important these developments were in order to make photography more accessible, easier, and a subject attracting experimentation and further development.


After watching the video: Introduction to Photography: The Camera by Ben Long (1h 52m), please answer the following questions. If necessary, refer to your Camera Manual:

  • Name all the functions / buttons on the front of your camera
  • Name all the functions / buttons on the back of your camera

My camera has yet to arrive so I’m not too sure about all the buttons except for the opportunity to adjust ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed.

  • Explain how you would set the correct ISO

This controls the light sensitivity of the sensor and increasing the ISO will make the camera more sensitive and vice versa, and creating a brighter or darker picture, respectively. Now, increasing the ISO too much will result in a lot of noise. To adjust the ISO you press the ISO button on the back of the camera and turn the control dial to adjust the ISO. The measurements are shown on the screen.

  • Explain how you would change the aperture

As the aperture (or iris) is built into the lens it is related to controlling the flow of light through the lens and opens and closes much like the iris of an eye. This is adjusted by clicking the AV button on the back of the camera and then turning the control dial located on top of the camera. The aperture is given with the measurement f+ number and can be seen on the screen.

(It is also used to control depth of field)

  • Explain how you would change the shutter speed

On my canon I just turn the control dial on top right of the camera, the number can be seen on screen. This adjusts how long the light sensitive material/sensor inside the camera is exposed to light. With a high number the shutter speed is high and freezes the moment whereas lowering the number will allow more light through and capture some movement which will blur or soften the parts of the picture.



Portrait woman [picture]: https://notquiteinfocus.com/2014/01/21/a-brief-history-of-photography-part-4-wet-plate-collodian/

Union officer [picture & info]: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/amp/photography/features/historical-processes-ambrotypes-and-tintypes




Aslaug Birkeland

Publisert av Alice Birkeland

Hi! I'm a Graphic Design student at Noroff, in addition to studying Japanese language and culture at UiO. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about my projects or if you share some of these fields of interest ~

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