The cabinet format was designed to recreate the success of carte de visite photographs, which were produced in the millions worldwide beginning around 1859. In the United States, business at photography galleries slowed after the Civil War, and the trade began looking for a new product. The answer came from Britain, where a similar business slowdown led F. R. Window of the London studio Window & Bridge to suggest the cabinet format in 1866. In England, The Photographic News championed the new format; in the United States, The Philadelphia Photographer campaigned for its adoption. Manufactur- ers also benefited from the new format, selling lenses, printing frames, mounts and albums designed for cabinet cards. Like the carte de visite before it, the cabinet card format became an international standard; cards produced in Bombay or Yokohama would fit albums in the parlors of Edinburgh or Chicago. The format remained popular into the early years of the 20th century.
Cabinet cards are generally albumen print photo- graphs from wet-plate collodion negatives, mounted on cards measuring 4.25 × 6.5 inches. The size of the print is 4 × 5.5 inches, allowing for a border all around and an extra deep border in the lower portion of the card. This extra-deep portion is intended to allow the card to be grasped and inserted into an album without handling the photographic print. Later cabinet cards—those made in the late 1890s and early in the 20th century—are often silver prints made from dry-plate negatives, but it is their size and type of mounting that makes them cabinet cards. A brisk trade was done in albums for this format, ranging from simple velvet-covered styles to elaborate leather-bound versions with miniature music boxes that played when the cover was opened. Some albums featured chromolithographs decorating their pages; rarer examples, often produced in Japan, have pages hand-decorated in ink and watercolor.
Because each cabinet card offered nearly four times the image area of a carte de visite, photographers sud- denly had many more compositional options. Cartes were usually limited to a few simple poses—full-length standing figure by a column, vignetted bust portrait, or seated figure beside a table. Cabinet cards offered more opportunities to show groups or to introduce elaborate backdrops and props. As with the earlier format, pho- tographers sold cabinet cards of celebrities and royalty, which people would collect in albums along with their family portraits. Some of the most creative work in the cabinet format can be seen in the theatrical images produced by leading studios in New York, London, and Paris.
Significant photographers utilizing the cabinet format included Nadar, Charles Reutlinger, Napoleon Sarony, W. & D. Downey, Elliott & Fry, Charles D. Fredricks and Mathew Brady. Julia Margaret Cameron’s magnificent large compositions were rephotographed and issued in the much-smaller cabinet format. Sarony specialized in photographing theatrical people and produced many striking images. Often these were simple and direct, such as his portraits of Ellen Terry and Oscar Wilde. But Sarony was justly famed for his use of props and backdrops, capable of turning his New York studio into the Egyptian desert or the icy North Pole. The studio featured a mummy, ancient armor, stuffed birds and a Russian sleigh. Sarony’s eye for potentially picturesque props made his sitting-room a “dumping ground for the dealers in unsalable idols, tattered tapestry, and indigent crocodiles.”
The cabinet format was also used for purposes other than portraiture. In France, Eugene Appert issued a se- ries of photomontages intended for political purposes during the Franco-Prussian War and the Siege of Paris (1871). City views and pictures of prosperous merchants in front of their stores were popular. The works of leading landscape photographers, such as W. H. Jackson, Carleton E. Watkins, and Adolphe Braun appeared in the cabinet format, especially after the financial panic of 1873 caused havoc with the American economy and made large format landscapes too expensive for most patrons. Occasionally cabinet cards were used for ad- vertising, harnessing the versatility and ubiquity of the format to hawk locomotives, face powder, fruit trees, machinery and patent medicines. The vast majority of cabinet cards served loftier purposes, recording for pos- terity the tangible evidence of family milestones—from the birth of a new baby to college graduations and the burial of a beloved relative. Millions of these personal mementos were made in studios around the world, and they account for the longevity and popularity of the cabinet card format.
CADETT AND NEALL DRY PLATE LTD.
The business of Cadett & Neall was established in August 1892 as a collaboration between James Wil- liam Thomas Cadett, a chemical engineer, and Walter Neall, a photographic dry plate and paper manufacturer and a medical doctor. The company’s trademark ‘swift as light’ was registered on 16 September 1892. Cadett appears to have been the technical force behind the business.
James Cadett had patented a pneumatic shutter (British patent number 4367 of 21 November 1877) and patented two further shutters in 1878 and 1884. He was elected a member of the Photographic Society in 1878. Two further patents in 1894 in collaboration with the Reverend James Randolph Courtenay Gale MA described improvements to packing and storing photographic chemicals as semi-liquids in tins and for photographic dark slides. His career between 1877 and 1892 is unknown.
Cadett’s principal contribution to photography was to the mechanisation of plate and film coating. His first and
most significant patent was number 9886 of 31 July 1886 which described a coating machine with two improve- ments for regulating the thickness of the emulsion being laid down on to the plate or film and for regulating the delivery of the emulsion from the storage trough to the glass plate. His two subsequent patents of 10 October 1887 and 2 April 1889 further refined these.
From it’s founding in 1892 Cadett and Neall grew very rapidly and by October the firm reported that it’s plate sales were doubling every month. In Spring 1896 it reported an increase in sales of 62 percent for the ten months ending October 1895 compared to the previous year and an increase of 52 percent for January and Feb- ruary 1896 compared to the equivalent period in 1895. By February 1898 the firm claimed sales of ‘millions’ of plates and the largest sale in the United Kingdom of any make.
To cope with this growth, the firm enlarged its Gre- ville Works in late 1892 and the following year built it’s Crampshaw Works which would double production capacity and these were enlarged in 1896 and in 1898 its Victoria Works were built for paper and film production. All were located in Ashtead, Surrey. New machinery was installed in mid-1894 for meeting the demand for its Velox developer.
From the outset the firm adopted the marking of its sensitised materials with Hurter and Driffield numbers indicating sensitivity to a carefully calibrated standard. Marion & Co had been the first to adopt the H & D scale and Alexander Cowan from Marions assisted Cadett & Neall in applying the standard to their own plates and manufacturing. This was partly responsible for the high quality of the firm’s goods. Film was added to the firm’s output from late 1892–1893 and specialised plates for photomechanical work in 1893. The orthochromatic plate was discussed by Cadett in a paper read to the Photographic Society and published in the Journal of the Photographic Society on 28 February 1896 and the firm began making an orthochromatic plate com- mercially that same year under the name Spectrum, with a fine grain high speed version being introduced in February 1899. The firm claimed it was ‘the only plate of its kind in the world.’ Its Lightning plate was claimed the ‘quickest in the world.’ The firm’s plates were rated the second most popular in a vote by readers of Photographic Life.
Away from plates the firm produced a range of chemi- cal developers with Velox being the most popular and in 1898 a range of Printing Out Papers, Bromide and other specialised papers were launched in various sizes and surface finishes. The following year two types of gelatino-chloride papers were added with different tonal characteristics and speeds and in late 1899 a platinum black bromide paper in a variety of surfaces was an- nounced.
To support it’s sensitised goods the firm promoted a range of exposure tables and calculators. 10,000 of its own calculator had been sold by November 1897 and sales of nearly 20,000 for Dibdins calculator, were claimed by July 1899. Cadett also designed exposure tables with Lambert which sold under their joint name.
Between 1892 and 1899 the firm published a free periodical called Dry Plates which went from an initial circulation of 5000 copies to 10,000 by the third number and 30,000 copies by 1898. Cadett authored a number of photographic publications including some with his earlier co-patentee James Gale who also later edited Dry Plates.
Cadett & Neall’s plate coating machines, based on Cadett’s patents, were widely acknowledged as superior. They were manufactured by R W Munro of London at a cost of £175 and they were used by several large plate manufacturers in Britain, including the Britannia Works Company, later Ilford, Limited, who all rented them for £100 a year.
In 1897 the firm’s growth and size led to it becom- ing a limited company with a share capital of £75,000. Cadett explained in Dry Plates that this change of status was required to extend the business and to add print- ing papers to the firms output for which capital was required. The new company was formally incorporated on 20 May 1897.
A standard agreement between the two partners and the company dated 20 June 1897 confirmed that the company would purchase all the goodwill, trade names and trade marks, freehold premises and plant and machinery, stock, and all property in connection with the business. Cadett and Neall would continue to manufacture plates by a ‘secret process known as Cadett’s process’ for which the consideration would be 60,000 shares in the company.
All shares were initially owned by the two families but Cadett and Neall resigned as permanent directors in 1903. The reason for this became apparent by 27 April 1904 when George Davison, the managing director of Kodak Ltd, become a director and a special resolution which was passed on 17 May was presented for filing by Kodak Ltd. By 1907 all shares in the company were held by Kodak through George Davison, George East- man, Henry Strong and the Eastman Kodak Company. The following year the registered office of the company moved to Kodak’s manufacturing plant in Headstone Drive, Wealdstone. The company was formally wound up on 28 November 1946.
Kodak’s interest in Cadett and Neall Ltd lay not so much with the retail competition that the firm provided, although the popularity of it’s plates and sales success would have been attractive, but in it’s technical expertise in the mass-production of plates and film using Cadett’s own machinery at a time when Kodak was looking to
stifle competition in photographic manufacturing and to take-over competitors. Its approach in 1902 to take over Ilford Ltd had attracted bad publicity and had ultimately failed and Cadett and Neall Ltd offered a less high profile but significant business which could bolster Kodak’s own manufacturing output and allow it an insight into its competitors in the sensitised goods business.
Following their departure from the business both Cadett and Neall appear to have had no further signifi- cant involvement in photography. Walter Neall had a new home designed by the architect Douglas G Round with a garden by Gertrude Jekyll between 1909–1911 in Guildford, Surrey. Cadett remained in Ashford.
CAFFIN, CHARLES H. (1854–1918)
American art critic
Caffin was born in Sittingbourne, Kent, England on 4 June 1854 to Reverend Charles Smart Caffin, a Church of England minister and his wife Harriet. Both parents were skilful amateur artists and fostered a life- long appreciation of art in their son. Caffin graduated from Pembroke College at Oxford University in 1877 and, following a stint as a teacher, turned to the stage. Caffin worked as an actor and manager with Ben Greet and His Shakespearean Players, an itinerant troupe offering outdoor plays. He married a fellow player, Caroline Scurfield, and immigrated to the United States in 1892. In America, Caffin found employment in the decorations department of the Columbian Exposition at Chicago where he painted mural decorations from the artists’ designs. The fair celebrated the promise of a modern world and probably affirmed Caffin’s belief that a new age requires a new art. After the fair, he made cartoons from artists’ sketches for use by mural painters at the new Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and used the experience to receive his first writing assign- ment. For the handbook published at the completion of the library, Caffin contributed a critical appreciation of art. He settled in New York in 1897, spending several years in Mamaroneck on Long Island, before moving to New York City by 1908. In 1897, Caffin also began his journalistic career and soon immersed himself in every aspect of the New York art world.
Although he frequently lectured, it is as a writer that Caffin made his mark. In an era when photographers battled for recognition as members of the art world, Caffin devoted his life to the belief that photography could be viewed as more than just the application of a mechanical recording device. Although credited as one of the most influential proponents of photography as art, Caffin began his writing career on the other side of the fence. As the new art critic for the New York Post, he entered the melee over the merits of photography with a scathing review of the 1898 Philadelphia Salon in Harper’s Weekly. The subject of the attack, Alfred Stieglitz, met with Caffin and persuaded the critic to take a second look at his images. Convinced of the merits of photography, Caffin’s subsequent writings reflected a changed attitude. He wrote time and again that photog- raphy could be practiced as a fine art since it requires the methods of other arts: sound technique, knowledge of formal principles and the ability of the artist to control the processes for the aim of personal expression. Caf- fin soon earned a reputation as a proponent of modern art and, especially, pictorial photography. He never explained his advocacy of photography, but he may have been influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement theory that all products may be formed artistically. He clearly felt that the possibility of art exists in all human endeavors. Attacked by other critics for his tolerance, Caffin received praise from Stieglitz, a fellow member of the Photo-Secession society (later 291 group), who described him as the only art critic who was utterly honest and who took the trouble to look at every picture before making up his mind.
A highly moral and devoutly religious man, Caffin turned to art to find a rationale for these sentiments and later wrote that religion, morality, and art were insepa- rable aspects of a full life. It remained his conviction that an artist’s character is revealed in his work and his criticism often involved comment on the artist as well as the art. He persistently denounced the efforts of some photographers to imitate other media, calling for a practice that would respect photographic properties and not seek to imitate painting. Caffin advocated “straight” photography, which values immediate effects with little or no manipulation of the print. He noted often that he was not a photographer and, since he lacked extensive knowledge of technical matters, he rarely commented on them. Caffin stayed with the Post until 1901, when he became the art critic for the rival New York Sun. He cemented his reputation as one of the most influential turn-of-the-century critics by serving as the art editor for two very influential magazines, Harper’s Weekly and International Studio. He also found time to contribute pieces to two journals edited by Stieglitz, Camera Notes and Camera Work.
Although Caffin published many works on art, he produced only one book on photography and it is the work for which he is best remembered. Photography as a Fine Art (1901) first appeared in the form of a series of articles in Everybody’s Magazine and Camera Notes. While Caffin’s aim was to assert photography as an art independent of painting, his monograph includes im- portant assessments of both photography and painting. He implied that both painting and photography have the same goals of harmony and beauty. Dismissing the objection that the camera is a mechanical device that prohibits artists from being inventive, he stated that ev- ery art has its limitations. The photographer overcomes this difficulty, Caffin wrote, by selection of the view and the moment of light and further control may be asserted in the developing and printing process. Photography as a Fine Art opens with a history of the photographic process and includes as illustrations photographs that made false claims to the rank of fine art. Caffin then reviews the work of progressives: Alfred Stieglitz, Gertrude Käsebier, Clarence H. White, Edward Steichen and others.
To boost the cause of photographers, Caffin fre- quently compared photography with painting. In the summer of 1905, he contributed “The Development of Photography in the United States” to International Studio for a special “Art in Photography” edition. In the article, Caffin suggested that the growth of American photography had been influenced by the success of American painting since the latter offered art as a means of personal expression while exploring the possibilities of the medium. In his 1913 book, Art for Life’s Sake, Caffin asserted that photography confirms that mechani- zation may serve art and that an important consequence of photography has been the improvement of painting —more imaginative pictures have been produced. Caffin died in New York City on 15 January 1918.
Charles Henry Caffin was born in Sittingbourne, Kent, England, on 4 June 1854 to Reverend Charles Smart Caffin, a Church of England minister, and Harriet C. Caffin. He attended Pembroke College, Oxford University, where he received his B.A. in 1877. Fol- lowing graduation, Caffin taught for several years before joining an itinerant theater troupe, Ben Greet and His Shakespearean Players. Married in 1888 to actress Caroline Scurfield, the couple had two daugh- ters, Donna and Freda. The Caffins immigrating to the United States in 1892 and Charles found work in Chicago with the Columbian Exposition. He then worked as a mural painter for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. in 1897. He published his first essay on art in Herbert Small’s Handbook of the New Library of Congress before moving to Mamaroneck, New York and entering the journalistic ranks. A prolific writer, he served three New York newspapers, New York Evening Post (1897–1900), New York Sun (1901–1904) and New York American (1913–1918). He also held the position of art critic for two influential publica- tions, Harper’s Weekly (1897–1901) and the American supplement to International Studio (1901–1905). His landmark article, “The New Photography,” appeared in Munsey’s Magazine (1902). Caffin wrote pieces on photography for Century Magazine and Everybody’s Magazine while finding time to publish dozens of articles on other forms of art and to also lecture for clubs and school groups. A member of Photo-Secession (later 291 group) between 1908–1917, he wrote often for Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Notes and Camera Work. His 1901 book Photography as a Fine Art cemented him as the photographer’s friend by portraying Photo- Secession as part of the modern art world. In 1905, he penned “The Development of Photography in the United States” for the art journal, International Studio. His art books include American Masters of Painting (1902) and American Masters of Sculpture (1903). The Story of American Painting appeared in 1907, followed by books on Dutch, Spanish and French painting. Caf- fin summarized his art theories in Art for Life’s Sake (1913). How to Study Pictures (1905) may be Caffin’s most influential work since it had wide distribution in schools throughout the country. He held membership in the National Arts Club. Active until the end, Caffin died on 15 January 1918 in New York City.
CAIRE, NICHOLAS JOHN (1837–1918)
Caire was born in Guernsey and probably arrived with his family in Adelaide, South Australia in 1858 aboard the Bee. Initially working as a hairdresser, he then trained in photography in Townsend Duryea’s studio. In 1865 he travelled to the Gippsland district of Vic- toria photographing the aborigines and the landscape. In 1866 he opened a studio at 97 Hindley St, Adelaide
producing carte-de-visite portraiture. In 1869 he moved to the Victorian goldfields, first working in Talbot then he opened a studio in View Place, Bendigo around 1872. In 1876 Caire took over Thomas Chuck’s studio in the Royal Arcade, Melbourne, in 1878 he managed the (Anglo) Australasian Photo Co. at 57 Bourke St., East, Melbourne then he took over A. J. Davis’ Bristol Portrait Rooms at 139 Bourke St. By 1880 he returned to his former location and opened the Royal Arcade Portrait Rooms producing carte-de-visite and cabinet photo portraiture. From 1884 he worked from his home in South Yarra. He made frequent tours of the countryside taking landscape photographs that were sold mounted on card or in albums. These had been his stock in trade since his arrival in Victoria and he was a great champion of the bush, even publishing a book with photographer J. W. Lindt “Companion Guide to Healesville etc.” in 1904.
CALDESI, LEONIDA (1823–1891) & MONTECCHI
London-domiciled Italian photographers
Leonida Caldesi was born in Florence, Italy in 1823 and arrived in England as a political refugee around 1850, though whether he was a photographer at this time is not clear. His brother Vincenzo (1817–1870) served as a major on the staff of the Italian patriot and revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807–1882).
Comparatively little is known about Caldesi’s career though he was one of the leading London photographers during the 1850s and was acknowledged by contem- poraries as one of the foremost photographers of fine art from the 1850s to the 1870s. He had a number of short-term professional partners including Mattia Mon- tecchi (1858–59), Blandford (1861–62) and Lombardi, though throughout his career he maintained a business relationship with the print publisher and art dealer Paul and Dominic Colnaghi. Caldesi had important dealings with the Royal Family as well as three major public art collections in London; The National Gallery, the British Museum and the South Kensington Museum. He also carried out society portraiture and worked for learned societies and private collectors.
In August 1854, probably as part of a project lead by Paul and Dominic Colnaghi, Caldesi had requested per- mission to photograph the Raphael Cartoons at Hampton Court though he did not carry out his campaign until 1858 when he photographed in tandem with the South Kensington Museum’s photographer Charles Thurston Thompson [qv].
1857 was probably the most important year in Caldesi’s photographic career. In May Caldesi and his professional partner Mattia Montecchi, a compatriot who travelled to England with him, were summoned to Osborne on the Isle of Wight to take a series of photo- graphs of the Royal children. His growing reputation was sufficient for him to be established in April on the premises of P&D Colnaghi by John Scott, one of the firms’ partners, and by June 1857 this establishment was noted in the columns of the Art-Journal. Colnaghi was to remain the primary publisher of Caldesi’s reproduc- tions of works of art.
Although Caldesi specialised in the photographic re- production of works of art, his core business was centred on society portraiture and he exhibited several of these at that year’s Art Treasures exhibition in Manchester. Caldesi and Montecchi also were engaged to photograph many of the paintings exhibited at this seminal exhibition. Along- side Robert Howlett [qv], they produced the majority of the 200 photographs for the two-volume ‘Ancient’ and ‘Modern’ series of Photographs of the Gems of the Art Treasures Exhibition, Manchester. Caldesi found difficulty in photographing some of the paintings in Manchester and successfully negotiated with the Royal Collection for some of its works to be subsequently moved outdoors to be photographed.
In the summer of 1857 Caldesi and Montecchi photo- graphed a smaller exhibition of portraits of Mary, Queen of Scots held at the Archaeological Institute, London. Theseat were published in 1858.
In 1859 The Gallery of the Most Noble The Marquess of Hertford, K.G., a selection of Caldesi’s photographs from the Manchester exhibition, was published. At that year’s exhibition of the Société française de Photogra- phie Caldesi and Montecchi exhibited twenty-one pho- tographs of paintings displayed at the 1857 Manchester Art Treasures.
Caldesi advertised a studio at Porchester Terrace in London’s Bayswater and he began carrying out photo- graphic work for Prince Albert’s Raphael Collection project. Perhaps as a result of this commission, Caldesi recorded the paintings in Buckingham Palace and was given permission to remove them to his studio. These photographs were published by P&D Colnaghi as the Royal Collection of Pictures at Buckingham Palace, and comprised forty small Albumen prints mounted on cards with printed captions that credit Caldesi, Bland- ford & Co. as the photographers, Montecchi having disappeared from the scene. This publication may bear the hand of the Prince Consort. Caldesi received further royal patronage that year when he was commissioned by Grand Duchess Marie of Russia to photograph the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum and he exhibited some of these views the following year at the Photographic Society’s exhibition in London.
Caldesi advertised in the influential Athenæum in the early 1860s stating that he personally took carte de visite
portraits at 13 Pall Mall East, the Colnaghi premises, while ‘portraits, Carriages, Horses, &c.’ were taken at the branch studio at 6 Victoria Grove, Kensington. He photographed a number of prominent people including Sir Charles Eastlake, director of the National Gallery. In 1864 Caldesi published carte de viste portraits Giuseppe Garibaldi and his fellow patriot Giuseppe Mazzini (1805–1872) during their visits to London.
During the 1860s Caldesi also produced cartes de visites of paintings though it appears that he did not use the stereoscopic or Cabinet formats to any significant degree.
In 1860 Caldesi carried out a photographic campaign in the National Gallery in London, exhibiting some these photographs of paintings at the 1861 exhibition of the Société française de Photographie. Between 1868 and 1873 The Pictures by the Old Masters in The National Gallery, a series of photographs of 360 paintings, was published by Virtue & Company. At this time Caldesi photographed a number of paintings in the Gallery on behalf of the director Sir William Boxall (1800–1879).
During the 1860s Caldesi was to carry out photo- graphic campaigns to record important private art col- lections such as the Farnley Hall collection of drawings by J.M.W. Turner These photographs, published by Colnaghi in 1864, seem to have had little impact and were not reviewed by the contemporary press. Another Colnaghi publication of 1864 was the Photographic Historical Portrait Gallery, which required Caldesi to photograph just under 200 Albumen prints of Tudor portrait miniatures.
An account of the latter years of Caldesi’s life has yet to be assembled. Photographs by Cave. Leonida Caldesi, of Ancient Marbles, Bronzes, Terracottas, & C, & C. in the British Museum was jointly published with Colnaghi’s between 1873–1874 but the photographs may have been taken some years before. Caldesi ap- pears to have returned to Bologna in around 1870 and died there in 1891.
CALOTYPE AND TALBOTYPE
On February 8, 1841, William Henry Fox Talbot (1800– 1877) patented a paper negative process he christened the calotype. The process revolutionized photography by introducing two substantive improvements: it greatly reduced exposure length, in some cases by a factor of more then one hundred, and secondly, it yielded a chemically robust negative capable of enduring repeated contact printing for positive copies.
The evolution of photography until this moment had been significant but rudimentary. Thomas Wedgwood (1771–1805) in 1802 was the first to conceptualize and create images with photosensitive silver salts. But no one, including Wedgwood, had cracked the code for fixa- tion: captured images inevitably faded from the presence of chemically reactive compounds in the paper. By 1839, two novel photographic systems on paper demonstrated significant gains in photochemical stability. The first was Talbot’s photogenic drawing, the second by Hippolyte Bayard (1801–1887), was the lesser-known direct paper positive. But both required lengthy exposures, yielded delicately delineated images and were subject to fading despite their improved durability. The daguerreotype was a third process known at this time; it produced a clear and bright silver amalgam image on a silver plate and its mirror-like detail captured the imagination of everyone who saw one. Like the direct paper positive, it produced a unique object.
The fledgling photogenic drawing process was hailed by many but was also heavily criticized, especially when compared to the extraordinary images rendered by the daguerreotype. Talbot had also not been fully satisfied with the photogenic drawing and he continued his research. On September 20, 1840, while searching for ways to increase its sensitively, he made a pivotal discovery.
I had been trying pieces of sensitive paper, prepared in different ways, in the camera obscura, allowing them to remain there only for a very short time, with a view of finding out which was the most sensitive. One of these papers was taken out and examined by candlelight. There was little or nothing to be seen upon it, and I left it lying on a table in a dark room. Returning some time after I took up the paper, and was very much surprised to see upon it a distinct picture. I was certain that there was nothing of the kind when I had looked at it before, and, therefore (magic apart), the only conclusion that could be drawn was that the picture had unexpectedly developed itself by a spontaneous action. (Literary Gazette)
Talbot immediately retraced his steps and realized that papers given only a brief exposure to light could be further developed with gallic acid. Sir John Herschel and the Reverend John B. Reade were also aware of the ability of gallic acid to act as developing agent (see Schaaf 1992 and Wood, 1980 for a thorough description
of these historic events). Until this time, the presence of the latent image was not known and the sun acted as the developing agent. Images were created by placing a flat, thin object (such as a piece of lace or botanical specimen) in close contact with a sensitized sheet of pa- per and exposing directly to sunlight. A photochemical reaction occurs in the sensitized sheet and the portions unprotected by the specimen turn rich, purple and red toned hues. The longer the exposure, the darker the im- age, but achieving this richness could take an hour or more. This is called the printing-out process, and is the basis of photogenic drawings, salted paper prints, and many other photographic processes. These processes, were, however, used primarily to create positive images, and at the time were called “transfers” or “copies.”
The word “calotype” originates from the Greek kalos and typus meaning “beautiful image.” In the 20th cen- tury, it came to be used as a general term for positive prints from paper negatives, but it is recommended that the meaning remain faithful to Talbot’s original defini- tion, that of a paper negative. The calotype was never used to directly make positive prints, largely because the image tonality did not yield the beautiful colors offered by the printing-out process. Shortly after its creation, another term for calotype, “Talbotype,” was promoted by many of the inventor’s supporters. It appears in the literature, patents and Talbot’s commercial printing and publishing establishments in Reading and London. Be- cause many photographers modified Talbot’s formula to suit their individual needs, the term calotype specifically refers only to Talbot’s patent process. The many other paper processes, whether developments from Talbot’s process, or from (sometimes serendipitous) discoveries made while trying to improve it, are not calotypes. The distinctions between ‘calotype,’ ‘plain paper,’ ‘waxed paper,’ et cetera were clearly understood in Victorian time.
The photographic image is created through the light sensitivity of silver halides, the chemical amplifica- tion of the latent image and the removal of unexposed silver halides from the paper with a fixing agent. The final image silver is attached to the paper fibers, liter- ally imbedded within their matrix. The five essential components of the paper negative process are the paper substrate, sensitizing chemistry, developer, fixer and post processing alterations. Each of these components is applied and combined by hand and thus subject to any number of subtle variations that alter its physical character. The final result is a sheet of high quality paper with a neutral gray image in reversed values: highlights in the original subject appear as dark image areas, while the shadows of the subject appear in increasingly lighter tones on the paper, the deepest shadows translate as pure paper. For example, if the image captured was a bright outdoor scene, the negative will appear very dark over all. Because the paper support is partially opaque, the negatives do not need to be viewed through transmitted light to see an image.
The nineteenth century photographer considered the paper substrate to be the most important component of the calotype. It’s physical properties and characteristics translated directly into the negative’s final appearance, and thus into any prints made from it. Dimensions var- ied from 2 × 2" to greater than 15 ×18", the size being directly proportional to the capacity of the camera. From exquisitely thin to stout and thick, the photographers explored a wide range of papers. Wove papers were preferred to laid and chain papers, and even water marks were trimmed away, since they would be visible in the image and print. Thin, uniform papers yielded a crisper image, while a thick, fibrous paper a softer ef- fect. Greater or lesser absorption properties in a paper created denser or more ethereal tones. Sizing affected the outcome as well, from fine gelatin sized English papers which yielded warmer tones, to the cooler tones of the starch sized French and German papers. Finally, the purity of these papers was paramount. Uneven dis- tribution of the size in the pulp could result in a mottled image. Any fillers or impurities such as bits of metal or other inorganic contaminants could create uneven results, even spots or stains.
Locating a reliable source for paper of suitable qual- ity proved difficult and troublesome before mid century. Industrialization of mechanical printing and paper mak- ing in the 1820s claimed the lion’s share of available cotton and linen rags, making handmade papers less available and more expensive. The new photographers required the greater quantities that mass production pro- vided, but of a consistently superior quality not readily available from the average paper mill. Between 1843 and 1853 the three most frequently recommended papers for the calotype were Whatman, Turner and Canson. After 1852, qualified paper makers were persuaded to create a “niche market” for photographic papers. An impor- tant milestone came from the Chafford Mills in Kent that produced the paper watermarked “RTurner Patent Talbotytpe.” The paper was highly regarded for it’s even texture, consistent production quality and longevity and used by many practitioners such as Benjamin Bracknell Turner (1815-1894). From 1853 and continuing well into the 1860s, increasing paper selections were avail- able by Turner, Whatman, Canson, Sanford, Papier Saxe, Hollingsworth, Papier Rive and Towgoods. There was also variety in preparation, from plain to gelatinized to iodized, in an effort to simplify the steps and encour- age purchases. Given the demand for such high quality stock, surviving negatives are often in excellent condi- tion. Apart from mechanical wear, such as tears, creases and skinning, the paper remains supple and if properly processed, will retain clear, bright highlights. Usually
the paper is a natural cream color, although negatives exist on papers tinted with bluing agents.
Sensitization takes place in two steps. First the paper is “iodized” by applying a halide salt solution usually potassium iodide and a smaller proportion of silver nitrate. In the second step, just before use, the iodized paper is coated with gallic acid and silver nitrate. If the solutions are lightly brushed onto the paper, the result- ing silver image layer may be thin to moderate. Alter- natively, if the paper is immersed, floated or repeatedly coated, it will absorb a maximum amount of solution potentially resulting in a dense image, printing through to the verso from this saturation.
In-camera exposures could range from 30 seconds to six minutes or longer, depending on conditions. During exposure, the latent image is created: atom-size irregularities or flaws inherent to silver halide crystals will condense after irradiation from light. Even a brief exposure is enough for the condensed irregularities to become sensitivity specks, which in turn become the points of attack for chemical development. Alternatively, if the sensitized paper is continually exposed to light, the latent image will visibly print out and can eventually completely blacken the paper.
The calotype developer was gallic acid and silver nitrate. A component found in nutgall, mangoes and other vegetable matter, gallic acid has a strong chemical affinity to the halides. The image development in paper negatives is different from the image forming in salted paper prints and albumen prints which are printing-out processes. It is called physical development, and in it, the developing agent (gallic acid) donates electrons to the silver ions in solution (from the silver nitrate) so that metallic silver is deposited at the site of the latent image. This coating or plating of the latent image amplifies until the image reaches visible size. Its spherical morphology and size dictates the particle’s reflective properties and chemical robustness, and a well-processed image will appear neutral gray. The temperature and purity of the developing solution and washing baths were identified as important variables because the rate of chemical reaction increases when temperature rises and impurities could react with the chemistry. Technical difficulties such as over- and underexposure were compensated for with under-and over development, much as they are now.
The image was stabilized by removing unexposed halides by washing with either potassium bromide or sodium thiosulphate, then known as “hyposulfite of soda.” Talbot initially preferred potassium bromide. John Herschel discovered the ability of the thiosulphates to dissolve the insoluble salts of silver chloride in 1819 and was the first to use the compound in photography. Eventually sodium thiosulphate became the standard chemical fixer, although improper use resulted in acute staining and fading and the loss of many early photographs. As sited by Ware (1994), there should be distinct yellow high values indicative of the presence of silver iodide after potassium bromide fixation. This striking characteristic is present in the negatives held in the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland by the Scottish team, Robert Adamson (1821–1848) and David Octa- vius Hill (1802–1870) who produced an outstanding body of work.
With impressive raw talent and skill in the arts and sciences, the first photographers brought a wealth of materials, technical expertise and finesse to the new art form. Nowhere is this more evident than in the post- processing treatment and preparation for printing. Nega- tives could be altered for printing in a number of ways: retouching, masking, trimming, inscribing, use of tabs for handling and wafers for affixing sheets for printing, coating, re-fixing or chemical intensification.
One of the most dramatic modifications to the paper negative was saturating the paper with wax, resin or oil, rendering the substrate more translucent. When viewed under normal illumination, the paper can appear waxy, shiny with yellow or orange tones overall. Creases ap- pear as opaque lines and the paper itself may feel heavier. When the same negative is viewed through transmitted light, however, the highlights blossom, causing details to appear crisp and clear. Beeswax was a familiar and well-known material to 19th-century artists and was the primary material for waxing paper negatives. Numerous methods existed for preparing waxed tracing papers such as sprinkling grated wax onto paper and warming with an iron or immersing the paper in a shallow tub of molten wax. Excess wax could be removed by placing the paper between blotters and warming with an iron. Experiments using oils, gums and resins were also re- ported in the photographic literature, although the rare examples in extant collections of negatives suggest their use was not widespread.
The narrow range of latitude and strong contrasts of paper negatives could be reduced or enhanced by waxing which enhanced the translucency and shortened print- ing time by applying media such as graphite powder or pigmented washes, by ironing the paper or by selective coating portions of the image with additional transpar- entizing agents. Similarly, flaws were retouched and image details could be outlined with these same materi- als. Many photographers inscribed their negatives with information, ranging from dates or numbers, to extensive descriptive text. Perhaps the ultimate modification was post processing chemical treatment by refixing or im- age intensification and is an example of how close dark room procedures of the 19th century are to those of silver halide photography in the 21st century.
Each formulation described above was subject to adaptation by devotees, and often the variant was identi- fied by name as a separate method, such as “plain paper
process” or “wet paper process.” In 1856, Sparling lists six calotype formulas by photographer’s name. Typically, changes were made by adjusting or adding chemical constituents, organic components (including gelatin, albumin, collodion, and sugar), by altering the temperatures of processing baths, even by exposing the paper negative while damp. After the introduc- tion of the waxed paper negative process in 1851 by Gustave LeGray (1820–1882), a French encyclopedia (Blanchère, 1865) lists no less then 44 paper negatives processes, most of which are close variants of either the calotype or the waxed paper negative process.
Travelling photographers from the West were quick to exploit the advantages of the paper negative and many hundreds survive documenting places as far away as the Holy Land and the Orient. Subjects in all formats included regional architecture, local people and cos- tumes, scenes, views, and documentation of scientific specimens. Shorter exposures and assembly of familiar materials appealed to the early travelling photographers. The daguerreotype could not compare to the paper negative’s lightweight ease and flexibility, especially in extreme climates. Photographers of the 1850s modi- fied their processes when travelling in hot, arid zones where unexposed, sensitized negative papers would easily spoil. A notable example is the aforementioned “wet paper process” whereby the sheets are iodized the night before, fully sensitized the next morning and placed into the negative frame while damp. Exposure and processing must occur within 24 hours. Each of the halides (chloride, bromide and iodide) have dif- ferent reactivity rates, and the sensitizing solution was adjusted by changing their ratio. After Irishman John Shaw Smith (1811–1873) traveled in the Middle East between 1850 and 1852, he read his formulations to the Dublin Photographic Society,
When the temperatures rose above 85, these papers would not keep during the day, they became spotted. This difficulty I overcame as follows: -an iodizing bath was prepared similar to the last mentioned, only leaving out the solid iodine and substituting as follows:- four drops of ‘bromure d’iode’’ were added to the bath, ... the effect of this addition of the ‘bromure,’ while it nearly doubled the required time of exposure in the camera, was, to cause the papers prepared to keep well during the whole day, under the highest temperatures, the papers being excited in the morning and developed the same evening.” (Journal of the Photographic Society, April 21, 1857)
The calotype united photography and the printed word. Daguerreotypes could never be realistically in- cluded in multiple book editions, nor could the fragile photogenic drawing process withstand the rigors of printing. But many dozens of positive prints could be produced from a single calotype. The first photographi- cally illustrated book was the Pencil of Nature, with a total of twenty-four tipped-in salted paper prints from calotypes. The work was published by Talbot and re- leased as a limited edition in six installments between 1844 and 1846.
The paper negative process was passionately practiced by a devoted group of practitioners from 1841–1860s, some of who brought the art to it’s high- est achievement. In addition, there were at least three hundred amateurs who embraced the calotype as their process of choice in the 1850s. In addition to those men- tioned above, interesting and important early work exists by Talbot’s relative, Welshman Rev. Calvert Richard Jones (1804–1877). The French excelled in the process, among the leaders Hippolyte Bayard, Maxime DuCamp (1822–1894), Eduard-Denis Baldus (1815–1882), and Louis-Désiré Blanquart Evrard (1802–1872). The Phila- delphia daguerreotype studio of Fredrick (1809–1897) and William Langenheim (1807–1874) are virtually the only known examples of Americans practicing the art.
The calotype reached its apex in the late 1850s, side by side with its sister process, Le Gray’s waxed paper negative. At that time there were three equal pillars of photography: the daguerreotype, paper negative pho- tography, and glass plate photography (collodion and albumen). But however fine and delicate, the details of paper negatives were never as sharp as the glass plate negative, to which it was constantly compared. Increasingly, the fibrous softening of the optical edge was seen as a drawback. In 1863 papers for the calotype were still readily available by photographic suppliers, but the direction of photography was moving towards the glass plate negative and its complement, the albu- men silver print. Despite brief revivals in the 1900s and 1920s, by 1870 the golden era of the calotype had come to an end.
The original daguerreotype apparatus was manufactured for Louis Daguerre by Alphonse Giroux of Paris in 1839 was offered as a complete outfit—everything the aspir- ing photographer needed except plates and chemicals was included. The outfit weighed over 45 kilos, and the camera could be used successfully without any ad- ditional accessories.
As the art and science of photography matured, however, a range of additions and accessories were introduced to improve the reliability and repeatability of the procedures.
Tripods and Camera Supports
The earliest cameras were operated on tables or any other usable support, but camera stands or tripods were included in many complete outfits. Initially, they were of fixed height, chosen to give the operator a comfortable working position.
Adjustable camera stands were introduced before 1850, and by 1853 advertisements offered both fixed and adjustable height tripods, and camera stands embodying either rack or screw height adjustments. The adjustable tripod was inspired by the quest for lighter, collapsible, and easily transportable equipment as photography was taken out into the landscape. Folding tripods and col- lapsible darktents were included in many designs for a photographer’s backpack.
Even the earliest tripod designs featured a hinged camera platform, allowing the elevation of the camera to be adjusted upwards or downwards as required.
Plate, Paper and Film Holders
The earliest removable camera accessory was the plate holder or dark-slide, frequently referred to in early literature as the “plate shield.” In Daguerre’s original specification, the metal plate was affixed to a wooden board—the plate holder or frame—with four small metal bands, an operation which required a hammer and small nails, before being inserted into the plate shield for transfer to the camera. In later modifications of this design, the plate was held firmly in the holder by four small corner plates, considerably reducing both the risk of damage to the plate surface, and the loading and unloading time.
William Henry Fox Talbot’s specification in his 1841 calotype patent—No. 8842 Obtaining Photographic Pictures—required the sensitized paper to be “defended from the light” while being placed in the camera, and early calotype cameras were supplied with paper hold- ers either with a removable “screen” or a system of light-tight doors. As the calotype could be used while still damp, the holder had a flat surface, often glass, against which the (moist) sensitized paper could be held easily.
In some designs of double-sided holders two sheets of paper, separated only by a sheet of blotting paper, were held flat between two sheets of glass, and exposed through the glass. In later examples the glass was dis- pensed with, and the paper was held flat on a board by a series of calico strips which also determined the boundaries of the image area.
Designs for holders for wet collodion glass plates often included a ceramic trough to catch any residual chemicals which might drain off the still moist plate surface.
By the early 1850s, plate shields with multiple inserts facilitated the use of a variety of plate sizes in a large camera.
As the wet collodion plate had to be coated and ex- posed immediately before use, holders for that process needed only be single-sided. Double plate holders did not enter into common usage until the advent of the commercially produced dry plate in the 1870s.
The popularity of the waxed paper process in the early 1850s, permitting negative papers to be sensitized days or even weeks before exposure, resulted in the first example of a roll-holder, enabling the photographer to make several exposures without reloading the camera. Designed in England by Arthur Melhuish and Joseph Spencer (Provisional Patent No. 1139 1854), the holder was loaded with several sheets of waxed paper which had been taped together to make a continuous roll. In 1855, Humbert de Molard designed a roll-holder which was loaded by taping several sheets of plain or waxed paper to a roll of silk. Camille Silvy’s 1867 roll-holder introduced an early version of a light-tight cassette, and in 1870 also included a leader of yellow silk to protect
the unexposed sensitised negative paper from accidental exposure to light.
The first roll-holder to accommodate film was intro- duced by Leon Warnerke in 1875, for collodion strip- ping film. The introduction in 1884 of the Eastman Roll Holder, as an accessory for dry plate cameras, marked the first such device to enjoy commercial success, its popularity being enhanced by the fact that it could be customized to fit many cameras.
Holders capable of exposing several separate sheets of paper without reloading were introduced in 1853, an example being the design of G. Montefiore Levi, which could carry up to fifteen waxed paper negatives.
In the dry plate era, multiple plate holders were in- troduced enabling several exposures to be made without reloading.
The changing box performed a similar function, but away from the camera. Thomas Ottewill’s 1870 design which held eighteen plates was one of the first, although George Hare’s 1875 design for twelve plates, available in a range of formats, was the more popular.
With the long exposures required with early materials, shutters were initially unnecessary. Daguerre’s original camera was fitted with a swivel plate to uncover and cover the lens, whereas a later design by Lerebours utilised a black cloth for the same purpose. Calotype and early wet plate cameras used a simple lens cap. As the sensitivity of materials increased, the accessory shutter, which could be fitted to an existing camera or lens was introduced.
The first roller-blind shutter capable of giving repeat- able instantaneous exposures was demonstrated by W. H. Cooke in 1853. It fitted over the front of the lens and replaced the lens cap. Later designs were fitted between the lens and the lens panel, but retained the basic prin- ciples of Cooke’s design. The Kershaw Instantaneous shutter of 1885 and the Thornton-Pickard Time & Instant shutter of 1888 were both popular patented designs. Pneumatic shutters extended the range of shutter speeds available from the early 1890s, but by the end of the century, the majority of lens designs incorporated an internal shutter.
Few sliding box cameras were designed to accommodate more than one focal length of lens, but an early example to offer such a facility was the full-plate daguerreotype camera introduced by Pierre-Ambroise Richebourg about 1842. With the extended focussing range of later bellows cameras, the interchangeable lens panel became a much more available option. An early example of a bellows camera offering this feature was introduced by Andrew Ross in 1850. John Henry Dallmeyer’s 1862 camera could be operated with a single portrait lens and panel, or with binocular lenses for stereoscopic photog- raphy. From the 1860s, the interchangeable lens panel was a universal feature of bellows camera design.
CAMERA DESIGN: 1 (1830–1840)
The camera obscura was used by the earlier experi- menters as the first photographic camera to produce images using light-sensitive chemicals on a paper or metal support. Thomas Wedgwood and Humphrey Davy circa 1801 used one to expose sensitised paper with limited success. Davy reported in the Journals of the Royal Institution in 22 June 1802 that ‘the images formed by means of a camera obscura have been found too faint to produce, in any moderate time, an effect.’ Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1816 also using a camera obscura was able to produce images but had no means to fix them. Daguerre, continuing Niépce’s work, car- ried on using the camera obscura in the development of his own process.
William Henry Fox Talbot in late 1834 or early 1835 also made use of a camera obscura to expose his sensi- tised paper but found that the exposure was too long to make a strong impression. In the summer of 1835 Talbot had more success using new chemistry and a camera obscura made from a small box and produced the well- known Lattice Window image of August 1835. Talbot also made use of a solar microscope to make images.
Niépce and Talbot also made use of the first purpose 244
built photographic cameras. Niépce, for his experi- ments using bitumen-coated pewter plates, constructed cameras in the form of a plain box and with two boxes sliding within each other—a design that was resurrected and became popular in the 1850s. These designs offered rigidity, a means of securing the plate, a fixing for the lens and a size that was more appropriate to the optics then available. These two forms of camera were based on typical camera obscura designs.
Talbot also made himself or had constructed small boxes for the purposes of making photogenic drawings. Reputedly these were made by the village carpenter in Lacock but Arnold argues that their crude construction would suggest that they were made by Talbot himself. These crude wood boxes were briefly described by Constance Talbot as ‘mousetraps,’ a name that has en- dured. The cameras were no more than 2 or 3 inch cubes with a simple brass bound lens at one end and a back to which sensitised paper was pinned. Later versions of the cameras were better constructed with refinements such as a viewing hole to examine the progress of exposure and detachable plate holders.
The announcement of Daguerre’s process on 7 Janu- ary 1839 and Talbot’s photogenic drawing process on 25 January 1839 provided the catalyst for commercial manufacture of photographic cameras. Daguerre’s rela- tive by marriage Alphonse Giroux of Paris launched a sliding box daguerreotype camera designed by Da- guerre. The camera was to make daguerreotype plates up to 16.5 × 21.5cm., which became known a whole- plate, and had a lens from Chevalier at a cost of 400 francs. It was available from 21 August 1839 the day of the public disclosure of Daguerre’s process. Giroux had signed a contract with Daguerre for the sole right to make daguerreotype apparatus under Daguerre’s direction. The camera bore a seal on one side featuring Daguerre’s signature and was the first commercially manufactured camera.
Other manufacturers soon produced their own de- signs of camera. Charles Chevalier of Paris produced a collapsible box form camera that offered a degree of portability limited only by the accompanying processing apparatus that was required to be carried. Alexis Gaudin designed a box form camera manufactured by N. P. Le- rebours in 1841 for 7 × 8 cm. daguerreotype plates. The camera was contained with all its associated chemicals and processing equipment in a box. In America by 1842 John Plumbe had produced a sliding box camera copied from Daguerre’s original design for 21⁄4 × 31⁄4 inch plates. The camera may have been constructed for Plumbe by a Boston scientific instrument maker. In the later 1840s what became known as the American-pattern of boxform camera with chamfered front edges became popular al- though there is some evidence that this design had been copied from an 1840 design by Chevalier.
Henneman. The Reading Establishment. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005 (2005.100.171ab(a)) Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In Britain from February 1839 Talbot began purchas- ing cameras, mainly from the London lens and instru- ment maker Andrew Ross. In 1839 this included three camera obscuras, a solar microscope and one experimen- tal camera with four lenses. Ross supplied seven cameras in 1840–41 and another instrument maker Watkins and Hill of London supplied a camera and ancilliary equip- ment. Talbot also purchased cameras from France.
InGermanythefirmofVoigtländermadeanall-brass camera incorporating a four-element lens designed by Max Petzval in 1841. The camera was shaped like a cannon and was set on a brass stand. Plates were held in a separate metal holder and gave images of 3.7 inches diameter. Carl von Steinheil also designed a tubular camera for paper or daguerreotype plates.
The first patent for a photographic camera was Alex- ander S. Wolcott’s camera for the daguerreotype process which was patented in America on 8 May 1840 and in Britain by Richard Beard under British patent number 8546 of 13 June 1840. The boxform camera body made use of a concave mirror set at the back of the camera to reflect the image on to the plate. Antoine Claudet on 18 December 1841 patented the first camera with interchangeable lenses for plates of different sizes and processing taking place within the camera body.
The basic design of camera up to 1850 was the rigid or collapsible box form camera or the sliding box cam- era with two or three sections sliding within each other. Within this basic design there were continual improve- ments. Willat’s Manual of 1845 shows a camera with a
Henneman. The Reading Establishment. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005 (2005.100.171ab(a)) Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
handle and threaded rod running through the baseboard to move the rear box for focusing. The camera also had different positions for the darkslide and focusing screen within the body of the camera, to allow for lenses for different focal length.
Most cameras of this period seemed to have been designed for daguerreotype use, although by the later 1840s manufacturers were usually describing them as being suitable for paper, glass or daguerreotype pro- cesses. In 1845 George Knight and Sons advertised Cundall’s Calotype camera that had first been described in May 1844 in the Philosophical Magazine. The camera was of the sliding box type but without a baseboard but was important as it had a focusing scale, internal baffles to reduce light reflections inside the camera and a lens with lens hood.
Cameras were made in a variety of plate sizes with five standard French sizes and four English sizes which had reduced to seven sizes by the end of the 1840s. Most cameras were made by established optical or philo- sophical instrument makers with the British maker’s favouring mahogany or rosewood and lacquered-brass and continental Europe maker’s favouring walnut and unlacquered brass construction.
CAMERA DESIGN: 2 (1850)
Although Smith has argued that the patents of Daguerre in Britain and Talbot held back the development of new and innovative designs of cameras during the 1840s there were equally few developments elsewhere in Europe or America. The 1850s saw the development of specialist photographic manufacturers, the development of more sensitive and easier processes and a rise in amateur and professional photography which probably did more to stimulate new designs of camera. The predominant box- form designs of the 1840s lasted through the 1850s and beyond, but they were joined by new designs, smaller and more specialist cameras.
Folding cameras were not new but new designs ap- peared. Bland and Long of London produced a design for paper processes and a similar design was registered by Ottewill on 25 May 1853. Hinges in the centre of the box allowed the camera to collapse in on itself once the lens panel and focusing screen were removed. Other makers copied or adapted the design. At the 1851 Great Exhibition Richard Willats showed a prototype of a col- lapsible camera that had a black cloth body. In America W. and W. H. Lewis of New York introduced cameras using square-cornered bellows to a design patented on 11 November 1851. Although their design was intended to give extra extension and made the camera suitable for copying purposes the idea of using bellows to make a compact camera gained favour.
Major Halkett showed a camera to the Photographic Society in April 1853 that used unpleated rubber to connect the lens standard to the back standard. Other designs of cameras using cloth, or bag bellows, contin- ued to be shown. British provisional patent number 1295 of 31 May 1856 granted to Francis Fowke described a folding bellows camera with bellows between the front and back and this design in a modified form was made by P. Meagher and quickly established itself as a stan- dard design for later improvement. The most influential collapsible bellows camera was designed by C. G. H. Kinnear of Edinburgh in 1857. The camera made use of tapered bellows which gave greater compactness. The designed was taken up by many camera makers. These two bellows designs were refined and remained in production into the twentieth century.
During the decade the rising and lateral moving front panel holding the lens was also added to boxform cameras. In most cases the movement was allowed by a simply cut-out in the lens panel which allowed a screw to be secured to the camera body. The effect of the small movement permitted was limited. Other cameras per- mitted in the entire lens panel to move in one direction only with only the protruding back of the lens limited movement. More mechanical and precise controls using a rack and pinion or adjustable supports did not enter camera design until later in the century.
The retention of sensitised materials in the camera were wholly held in removable holders which slotted into the back of the camera. Wet collodion glass plates were usually retained with small wire clips at their corners and one plate fitted each holder. As dry plates became more common holders containing two plates separated by a metal sheath allowed for more compact outfits to be made.
Cameras which allowed the photographer to process his plates inside the body of the camera also saw some popularity throughout the 1850s. Their designers saw internal processing as a way of reducing the size and weight of the apparatus the travelling photographer needed to carry. Henry Talbot patented the first design in 1851 and Archer’s portable camera of 1853 was widely discussed and over twenty British patents were granted for such cameras over the next thirty years.
The 1850s saw the rise of interest in stereo-photog- raphy and camera were made to reflect this. There were two methods of producing stereo pairs of photographs. The first was to make two separate images with one camera with a variety of methods employed to ensure the correct spacing between the two pictures. The second was to construct a camera with two lenses that took the pictures at the same time.
The first significant design was shown by Latimer Clark to the Photographic Society on 5 May 1853. A single camera was mounted on a jointed parallelogram that moved the camera a set distance between exposures. A pulley system moved the plate holder so that the second exposure could be made quickly. Other designs moved the camera across a bar which was fixed to a tri- pod and John Harrison Powell’s design registered on 27 December 1858 and made by Horne and Thornthwaite moved the camera across a box and it’s lid which also contained the camera and plate holders. A third method shown by John Spencer in 1854 moved the lens across the front of the camera and had an internal septum to divide the camera so the two photographs did not over- lap. Two cameras placed side by side would also achieve the same effect and was described in British provisional patent number 1629 of 8 July 1853.
The first twin lens stereoscopic camera was demon- strated in October 1853 to the Liverpool Photographic Society and the first binocular boxform camera was offered for sale by J B Dancer of Manchester. His de- sign was patented in September 1856 and was a more advanced design of one made in 1853. The camera incorporated a number of innovations. The first folding bellows stereoscopic camera was George Hare’s Por- table Binocular camera of 1860. Other designs followed until interest in stereoscopy waned before a resurgence of interest in the 1890s.
Throughout the 1850s cameras continued to be made from wood. The first metal-body folding camera was described by A J Melhuish in two patents in 1859. A single and stereoscopic version were described and one example of the single lens version is now in the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, UK. Melhuish was also responsible for a roll-holder for paper negatives which had been designed in 1854.
Various patents were published describing cameras that allowed processing to be undertaken internally and specialised cameras for, for example, panoramic photography were also made and different styles of photography became possible through the development of new processes. Cameras designed for enlarging or copying were announced by the late 1850s. Despite the many significant camera designs during the decade relatively few were patented with the more success- ful innovations being copied and refined by different manufacturers.
Ponti, Carlo. Megalethoscope.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © The J. Paul Getty Museum.
CAMERA DESIGN: 3 (1860s–1870)
The main theme for camera design during the 1860s and 1870s continued to be portability and the general improvement of existing designs of camera. During the later part of the period there was an increasing separation between professional studio and amateur cameras with latter generally being more innovative.
In 1861 F. R. Window described a new arrangement of the long-established sliding box camera. The smaller inner box was moved to the front of the camera and carried the lens and was focused by a double rack and pinion mechanism for moving the front box on a base board. The design was more compact, more rigid and easier to focus. Window’s design remained popular and in revised forms were popular into the twentieth century. Most later hand and field cameras retained the double rack and pinion focusing at the front of the camera. The design was incorporated into professional studio cam- eras and smaller amateur cameras. By the mid-1860s front-focus bellows cameras were introduced to take advantage of the improved rigidity and advantages of moving the lens rather than the back standard.
The 1860s also saw the widespread introduction of tailboard cameras. Atkinson’s Portable camera was described to the Photographic Society in 1857 but it was not until commercial manufacture by P. Meagher, George Hare, W. Watson and others for stereoscopic and single-lens use that the design gained widespread acceptance and by the 1870s it was very popular. The design had a moveable back focusing screen connected by bellows to the lensboard. For storage the back was moved by rack and pinion to the front and the hinged baseboard lifted up to protect the focusing screen and, if present, a side gate was swung across to secure ev- erything.
George Hare manufactured W. J. Stillman’s design as the New Universal camera. The design was provision- ally patented on 14 November 1871 and gave greater flexibility to move the back and front standards around a fixed central point.
During the period a number of features became standardised and remained an integral part of camera design until the 1900s. With acceptance of the dry plate process from the early 1870s the book-form plate holder holder became standard holding two plates either side of a metal divider. By 1860 most cameras incorporated some form of rising front and, later, a laterally moving front especially on professional studio or more advanced cameras. At the same time a swing-back was incorporated on most studio cameras. On these the bottom of the back standard was bevelled to allow for the move- ment and pivoted around a centre screw. Some cameras were refined with a rack and pinion swing adjustment. Meagher produced a swing back that could be fixed in position by a slotted strut and screw.
The 1860s also saw the introduction of the repeating back on studio cameras to produce two or more images on a single plate. This was especially popular for the pro- duction of cartes-de-visite. Interchangable lens panels and cameras with removable septums allowed them to be used for stereo and normal photography. In-camera processing reached it’s height with the introduction of the Dubroni camera in 1864 which had a ceramic inte- rior to hold chemicals to process the plate internally. A range of models were made in different plate sizes and styles. Designs of stereo cameras continued although most adopted Window’s design to hold two lenses with some of the best known being sold by J. H. Dallmeyer in the 1860s.
Travelling camera outfits also became popular with the camera, darkslides and chemicals usually being contained in one box or even within the camera.
Many of the designs that were introduced in the 1870s were still in production and use, especially by professional photographers and studios at the end of the century. It was developments with roll film and smaller hand cameras for amateur use that showed the greatest innovation and change over the next three decades.
CAMERA DESIGN 4 (1850–1900)
The basic design of studio cameras did not change significantly after the early 1860s and the move from sliding box pattern cameras to front-focusing bellows cameras had taken place. Refinements to designs tended to reflect specific needs and the preferences of individual camera manufacturers to produce distinctive and mar- ketable designs.
There is no precise definition of a studio camera. Field and tailboard cameras that were ostensibly de- signed for travelling with could quite easily be used in a studio. By end of the century companies such as Marion and Co. and George Houghton and Sons of London were listing cameras under the heading studio cameras that ‘have been so designed, constructed, and finished, as to meet the demands of the most critical user.’ The cameras were generally large with a minimum plate size of 6 inches square. They were constructed of mahogany with brass fittings, rackwork adjustment at the back and front and usually a double extension base. This al- lowed the camera to produce a variety of negatives by means of reducing and repeating backs, it could accept a variety of lenses and could be used for copy work as well as portraiture and it usually came on a wheeled studio stand. The stands would be adjustable vertically through a geared crank and would have adjustments for tilting. Cameras were generally advertised in standard plate sizes from 61⁄2 to 24 inches square although larger models were occasionally advertised in the earlier period before enlarging became widespread.
The first commercially made cameras for the da- guerreotype process such a Giroux and Wolcott cameras were rigid box form cameras and designed to be used in a studio close to processing facilities. The sliding box pattern of camera became more widespread and although models were made for travelling the design was also firmly used within the studio during the 1840s and 1850s. The cameras were generally whole-plate (81⁄2 × 61⁄2 inches) or larger and with sufficient extension to cope with full-length to head and shoulder portraits. They were generally mounted on a wheeled studio stand. The widespread introduction of bellows to studio cameras set their design for the remainder of the century.
Both the box form and bellows cameras performed the same task of keep light from between the lens and plate holder. Most of the innovations in studio camera design were concentrated around the lens and plate holding parts of the camera. Repeating backs were first introduced in the early 1850s for stereo photography and were designed to allow two images to be taken by a single lens camera. They were suggested by Claudet in 1851 although had probably been in use before this. With most an extended plate holder holding two separate daguerreotype plates or a single glass plate was pushed into position and was held in either position by a spring catch. The focusing screen was removed completely or pushed out of the way during the two exposures.
The craze for cartes-de-visite and cabinet cards from the early 1860s and non-standard format photographs through to the 1890s led to the development of backs and cameras to accommodate them. Repeating backs were designed to allow multiple exposures to be made on one plate which was contact printed to make the cartes or cabinets. Special cameras were designed with multiple lenses to allow identical images to be made with one exposure on a single plate.
Falk, Benjamin J. Wilfred Draycoff. Actor posing with a large format camera. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © The J. Paul Getty Museum.
This technology also allowed, through the use of special darkslides, which was essentially the selective uncovering or manipulation of some of the camera’s multiple lenses via different poses, a different effect on the plate. F. R. Window’s Diamond Cameo camera of 1864 allowed cameo sized photographs to be made on one plate by vertically and laterally moving the darkslide. The 1890s craze for stamp photographs lead to cameras with up to 15 lenses and repeating backs that could allow many images to be exposed on to one plate.
Multiple lens studio cameras were first introduced in 1855 in America when Albert R. Southworth was granted a patent for a four-lens camera, French and Brit- ish manufacturers quickly produced their own designs with the most popular style producing four 2 × 31⁄4 inch negatives on a whole plate. Lancaster’s Gem camera produced 12 1-inch square negatives on a quarter-plate. Fallowfield and other manufacturers produced cameras with four, nine or twelve lenses for meeting the demand for popular sizes of photograph. These cameras would either make one identical image through each lens on the sensitised plate, especially where six or more lenses were being used, or various methods were employed, notably the repeating back, so that different images
could be exposed one or more lenses. The resultant plate was usually contact printed and the paper print with the multiple portraits cut up and mounted.
The distinction between amateur and professional or between studio or portable cameras was not clear and manufacturers such as W. Rouch would frequently advertise cameras as: ‘New Folding Studio and Field camera. The most useful and portable instrument for both Amateur or Professional use, use aiming to maxi- mise the market for their product.
The other important addition that the studio camera had was the reducing back which allowed the camera to make negatives smaller than the maximum plate size through smaller plate holders that fitted the camera and either a smaller focusing screen or, more usually, the full-size focusing screen marked with the smaller plate sizes. The use of full-size plate holders with reducing inserts for smaller plate sizes also allowed smaller nega- tives to be made where necessary. George Hare’s Uni- versal camera was advertised in 1874 as being ‘adapted for the Single or Double Cartes-de-Visite, for Half or Whole-plate Portraits, for the new Cabinet Pictures, and can be used for Copying.’
The studio camera also encouraged the production of accessories for it. The studio stand was an essential part of the camera and ranged from basic fixed tripods with extra strengthening and a top for support the camera to elaborate tables with shelves and adjustments. All were mounted on wheels. The darkcloth was essential to aid focusing. The fashion for vignetting in the 1870s lead to special attachments to be added to the front of the camera and by the late nineteenth century shutters would be mounted inside the camera and operated by an air or mechanical release set into the camera.
CAMERA DESIGN: 5 PORTABLE HAND
Whilst a small number of cameras designed to be hand- held had appeared as early as the 1850s, such cameras were extremely unusual in the wet-collodion period when exposures of several seconds were the general rule. However, the introduction of more sensitive, com- mercially manufactured gelatine dry plates in the late 1870s made ‘instantaneous’ exposures fully practical for the first time. During the 1880s, cameras designed to be used whilst hand-held became popular. Hand cam- eras developed along three distinct lines—box-form or ‘detective’ cameras; folding or strut cameras; and hand and stand cameras.
In 1881, Thomas Bolas took out a British patent for a box-form plate camera. Because it could be used in the hand, inconspicuously, he coined the name ‘detective camera’ for his invention. The term came to be applied to almost all hand cameras that appeared up to the end of the century. The first detective camera to be widely sold was William Schmid’s Patent Detective camera of 1883. A plain, oblong wooden box, this incorporated a shutter, focusing system and viewfinder, which were to become features of the hand camera. Most detective cameras were simple wooden boxes, sometimes covered in leather or even brown paper so as to resemble bags or parcels. Some, however, took concealment a stage further. During the 1880s large numbers of disguised cameras appeared, designed to resemble, for example, books or watches or to be hidden in ties, hats or walking sticks or under worn beneath a waistcoat.
During the 1880s a number of designs appeared for cameras that held a number of plates that could be exposed successively, thus doing away with the need to change plate holders after each exposure. Incorporat- ing ingenious plate changing arrangements, these were known as magazine plate cameras and enjoyed their greatest popularity in the 1890s. Examples include, Rouch’s ‘Eureka’ camera, Marion’s ‘Radial’ camera and Fallowfield’s ‘Facile’ camera—the favourite camera of Paul Martin. Magazine plate cameras tended to be bulky and the weight of the glass set a limit to the number of plates that could be conveniently carried. An alternative approach was to use sheets of celluloid film. One of the most popular cameras to use film packs was R & J Beck’s ‘Frena’ camera, introduced in 1892. However, by the time the Frena appeared, hand cameras which used roll film were rapidly gaining popularity.
Roll-holders, which used bands of sensitised paper as an alternative to glass plates first appeared in the 1850s. The first roll-holder to enjoy any commercial success was designed by George Eastman and William Walker and went on sale in 1885. Eastman subsequently worked on incorporating his roll-holder into a simple detective camera. However, Eastman was pre-empted by two other Americans, Robert Gray and Henry Stam- mers, who patented their ‘America’ detective camera in May 1887. Whilst it was not a commercial success, this camera is significant as being the first hand camera to
use roll film. The following year, Eastman introduced his detective camera which incorporated a roll holder and gave one hundred exposures on sensitised paper film. Eastman decided to create a new trade name for his camera—a name that would be novel, distinctive and easily pronounced in most languages. The name he came up with was ‘Kodak.’
The Kodak camera was successful from the start and it was followed during the 1890s by a range of folding and box-form Kodak cameras of various formats. In 1900 the first Brownie camera was introduced—the camera that was to become synonymous with snapshot photography and was to transform the medium into a truly popular pastime. In 1889 Eastman introduced the first commercial transparent celluloid roll film in place of his earlier paper-based film and from 1895 onwards, film was supplied in ‘cartridges’ for daylight loading.
Whilst the Eastman Company soon came to dominate the market, the success of the Kodak prompted a number of other inventors and manufacturers to design hand roll film cameras. Examples include L’Escopette of 1888, the Luzo camera of 1889, and the Prizma Detective camera of 1890. However, none of these were to enjoy a fraction of the Kodak’s success and popularity.
Following their initial novelty, box-form plate cam- eras—except for magazine plate cameras—became less popular during the 1890s. In their place appeared a variety of compact collapsing hand cameras in which the lens panel pulled out, attached to a bag or bellows, and was locked in position by struts. Strut cameras had the advantage of being lighter, more compact and easier to carry than box cameras. A number of popular designs appeared during the 1890s, including Shew’s ‘Xit’ camera, Newman & Guardia’s ‘Nydia’ camera and the Goerz-Anschutz folding camera of 1896 which was to be the basis of most press cameras right up to the 1930s. Folding roll film cameras also first appeared during the 1890s. Eastman’s Folding Pocket Kodak camera, introduced in 1897, was the first of a range of popular folding cameras. The No 3 Folding Pocket Kodak camera of 1900, in which the camera front folded down to form a baseboard along which the lens panel was drawn out, set the standard pattern for the design of folding roll film cameras for the next fifty years.
Following the introduction of dry plates, the first folding hand cameras were simply traditional field cam- eras to which a shutter and viewfinder had been added. Smaller format field cameras could easily be hand-held. These evolved into cameras that were made specifically for hand use but also incorporated several features that were normally associated with stand cameras, such as rising-front and swing back movements. Since they could be used either in the hand or on a tripod, they were known as ‘Hand and Stand’ cameras. One of the most popular forms of hand and stand camera was introduced by George Houghton & Son in 1899. A hand-held ver- sion of their innovatively designed Sanderson camera it remained on sale until 1939.
CAMERA DESIGN: 6 KODAK
In 1888 George Eastman patented and introduced a small box-form camera which he named ‘The Kodak.’ This camera initiated a revolution in photography that was to quickly transform it into a truly democratic pas- time within the range of everyone, regardless of income or technical knowledge. A hand-held ‘detective’ camera, the Kodak was fitted with an integral roll holder and took pictures on long rolls of sensitised paper. Extremely simple to use, it reduced taking a photograph to three simple actions: 1. Pull the string. 2. Turn the key. 3. Press the button. The camera itself did not embody any great technical advances; it was not even the first camera designed solely to take roll-film. The most revolutionary aspect wasn’t in fact the camera, but Eastman’s concept of separating the act of picture-taking from that of pic- ture-making. The Kodak was sold already loaded with film for 100 exposures. After this had been exposed, the entire camera was returned to the factory for the film to be unloaded, developed and printed. The reloaded camera was then returned to its owner, together with a set of prints. The Kodak system was summed up by Eastman’s famous advertising slogan—‘You Press the Button, We do the Rest.’ For the first time, anyone (as long as they could afford the 5 guineas which the Kodak cost) could become a photographer.
In 1889 Eastman introduced the first commercial transparent celluloid roll-film to replace the less satis- factory paper film. That same year, a larger version of the Kodak, the No. 2 Kodak camera, appeared, taking a 3 1⁄2 inch circular negative. The next year, this was followed by the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 Kodak cameras, taking even larger negatives, up to 4 by 5 inches.
The first Kodak cameras had to be loaded with film in a darkroom. In 1891 Eastman introduced a new range of cameras which were designed to overcome this inconvenience. Externally, the aptly-named A B and C Daylight Kodak cameras looked very similar to the original Kodak cameras. However, the roll-film was contained in light-proof cardboard containers that protected the film when loading or unloading, the film
being wound from one container to another through velvet-lined slots. Daylight Kodaks were not a com- mercial success. The following year, S. N. Turner of the Boston Camera Manufacturing Company came up with a much neater solution to the problem of daylight load- ing. His Bull’s-Eye camera of 1892 used paper-backed ‘cartridge’ film wound on to a spool with flanged ends, which protected it from light. Numbers printed on the backing paper could be read through a little red window in the back of the camera. Realising the superiority of Turner’s system, Eastman initially purchased a licence from Turner and in 1894 began production of a range of Bullet cameras which used cartridge film. In 1895 Eastman bought out the Boston Camera Company and began the manufacture of the very popular Pocket Ko- dak cameras which also used daylight loading cartridge film. The Pocket Kodak camera really was pocket-sized, being a small box measuring just 2 by 3 by 4 inches. It was the first Kodak camera to be manufactured using mass production techniques and 600 cameras a day were turned out by the Eastman factory in Rochester.
The Pocket Kodak camera was convenient to use but the negatives it produced were very small—just 11⁄2 by 2 inches. In order to create a camera which was still com- pact enough to be easily carried but which took larger pictures, Frank Brownell, Eastman’s camera designer, came up with an ingenious folding design. When closed, the Folding Pocket Kodak camera of 1897 was almost as small as the Pocket Kodak camera, but it opened up on spring-loaded struts for use and took negatives 21⁄4 by 31⁄4 inches. The Folding Pocket Kodak was the first of a range of folding cameras that were to be produced for many years and which were to prove enormously successful. Also in 1897, the first of a range of folding roll-film cameras aimed at the enthusiast appeared—the No. 4 Cartridge Kodak, taking 5 by 4 inch negatives. This was followed by the No. 5 Cartridge Kodak in 1898 (7 × 5 in) and, finally, the No. 3 Cartridge Kodak in 1900 (31⁄4 × 41⁄4 in). Comparatively expensive, these were available in a range of lens and shutter combina- tions and featured such refinements as rack and pinion focusing and rising and cross-front movements.
Whilst Kodak from the beginning concentrated on film cameras, during the 1890s they also produced a number of models designed to take glass plates. Their range of Kodet and Folding Kodet cameras, for ex- ample, could be used with either plate holders or a roll holder. Kodak also entered the specialised panoramic and stereoscopic arena with the No. 4 Panoram Kodak and the No. 2 Stereo Kodak, introduced in 1899 and 1901 respectively.
In 1900, Eastman addressed the financial constraints which still meant that snapshot photography was be- yond the means of many people. Mass production had brought the cost of cameras down—the Pocket Kodak, for example cost one guinea. However, this was still too expensive for many aspiring photographers. East- man asked Brownell to design a camera which could be mass produced for very low cost. The result was the Brownie camera. A box camera fitted with a simple lens and shutter, the Brownie sold for just 5 shillings. Named after the Brownie characters popularised by the Canadian writer, Palmer Cox, the camera was initially aimed at children. Soon, however, it enjoyed much broader appeal as people realised that although very basic, the Brownie could produce very good results under the right conditions. Within a year, over 100,000 Brownie cameras had been sold. For the next eighty years, the Brownie name was to be synonymous with snapshot photography.
CAMERA DESIGN: 7 SPECIALIST AND
A large and increasing number of specialist and novelty cameras were introduced through the nineteenth cen- tury. Specialist cameras were designed to accomplish tasks that were beyond the standard studio or amateur camera such as panoramic photography and novelty cameras in design or appearance were manufactured to take advantage of new photographic processes or methods such as roll film or materials from which to manufacture cameras. Others were made to look unlike a typical camera and pass unrecognised. The definition of novelty changed over time.
Specialist cameras were introduced early on. Cam- eras designed for stereoscopic work in either single or double lens versions were introduced as early as 1852. The first stereoscopic camera is credited to J. B. Dancer who made a binocular camera in 1852, shown in 1853, and was refined in to the 1856 patented Binocular cam- era. Dancer’s fellow Mancunian Petschler introduced his own design shortly after 1852. Latimer Clark introduced his single lens version on a special parallelogram in 1853. Most other manufacturers introduced their own versions of rigid box, sliding box, and front-focusing stereo cameras during the 1850s and 1860s until demand declined. From the later 1880s into the 1900s there was a
renewed interest in stereoscopy and many manufactuers introduced stereoscopic versions of their regular models. These were all with two lenses as the single-lens camera was impractical for hand use. The stereo Photosphere of 1888, stereo-jumelle hand cameras of the 1890s, stereo versions of mahogany field cameras, the Stereo Sigriste of 1898, and detective hand cameras such as the Tit-Bit are all examples of stereo versions of regular cameras. There were also cameras such as the Richard Verascope of 1894 and the Stéréocycle of 1898 that only appeared in stereo models.
Panoramic photography was also in demand from photography’s earliest days. In 1845 Frédéric Martens mounted a specially adapted daguerreotype camera on the roof of the Louvre and took 150 degree views of Paris on curved plates 12 × 38cm. Martens used a stationary camera with a lens rotated by clockwork. The camera was also adapted to make paper negatives. In Britain Thomas Sutton designed a water-filled lens in 1859 and a special camera designed to take curved glass plates was sold by Ross. The camera and lens appeared in a variety of sizes and produced 120 degree views. Johnson and Harrison’s patent of 5 September 1862 described a camera that moved by clockwork on a turntable and could cover 110 degrees. Other designs such as Moëssoral’s Cylindrographe of 1889, the Kodak Panoram of 1899 and the Al Vista of 1899 all moved the camera lens. The Cirkut , Wonder Panoramic camera of 1889 and Damoizeau Cyclographe all moved the camera on special turntables.
In-camera processing was also attempted early on and was suggested by Talbot who was the first person to patent such a camera in 1851. In his design the plate was dropped into a glass cell within the camera and silver nitrate added for sensitising purposes, after exposure the developing chemicals were added and drained as necessary. No record exists of the design having been produced.
Over twenty different British patents were granted for in-camera processing during the next thirty years up to the 1880s. The first such patent for a camera that was made commercially was designed by Frederick Scott Archer. Archer’s portable folding camera was registered in February 1854 but first appeared the previous year and was discussed in the Photographic Society’s Journal of 21 April 1853. Mr Shelley having seen the demonstra- tion by Archer stated ‘Mr Archer’s camera possesses the advantage that the whole is carried in one box.’ The same issue included Newton’s patented design for a similar camera. Archer’s camera was also described and illustrated in Robert Hunt’s Manual of Photogra- phy of 1854. The camera was made commercially and improved upon by Mr Griffin and sold by him with a 21⁄2 inch achromatic lens for views and chemicals for £16 6s. A tripod was £1 extra. The Dubroni camera of 1864 was a commercial successful and available in the 1870s in a variety of designs and plate sizes. The camera was patented by G. J. Bourdin in 1864 and contained a ceramic interior lining and an opening in the top which allowed a pipette to insert and remove process- ing chemicals. The camera back on some models held a red window for visual inspection. Allied to this were ferrotype or tintype cameras, producing photographs on metal plates within a few minutes, which gained popularity from the 1880s and variety of designs were produced by Fallowfield and other makers.
The end of the nineteenth century saw the introduc- tion of three-colour cameras Frederick Ives’s Krömsköp camera, viewer and projector were introduced from 1890. Louis Ducos du Hauron’a Chromographoscope of 1879 and Melanochromoscope of 1897 were all one- shot three-colour cameras. The next century would see these developed further.
Multiple lens cameras for producing cartes-de-visite, cabinet and Gem and stamp cameras were introduced from 1860 and remained popular in different forms throughout the century as studio cameras.
Specialised cameras were also designed for photo- micrography. Many of the large scientific instrument makers such as Smith, Beck and Beck, Negretti and Zambra, John Browning and others produced cameras designed to be attached to microscopes from the 1860s onwards and these were developed and refined through- out the century. Collodion negatives with their sharp definition made possible micophotograptihic cameras for producing very small negatives of large objects for use in Stanhopes and on microscope slides. J. B. Dancer produced the first of these in 1856 but the best known was René Dagron’s camera of 1860 which, via a repeat- ing back, made 450 exposures 2 × 2mm on 4.5 × 8.5cm plates. The camera had twenty-five lenses.
The first novelty cameras in the sense of being very different to standard cameras date back to December 1858 when Thomas Skaife introduced his Pistograph camera. The metal camera produced circular negatives 1 inch diameter on wet-collodion plates. Thomas Ottewill produced a camera clearly based on the Pistolograph in 1860. A similar camera was produced by Marion and Co in 1884 as their All Metal Miniature camera for 11⁄4 inch square dry plates. The Kombi of 1893 was square metal boxform camera taking 1 inch negatives on roll film. The camera was also used to view the negatives. Other cameras such as the Escopette of 1889 and metal Demon of 1893 were of novel shape.
Cameras disguised as other objects start with the Thompson revolver camera of 1862 which was made by A. Briois in Paris. The camera made four exposures on a 7.5 cm diameter glass plate. Nicour’s Photo-Bin- ocular camera of 1867 appeared in the form of a pair of binoculars with a circular magazine holding 50 11⁄inch square glass plates mounted on top. The 1880s and 1890s saw the greatest craze for disguised cameras when dry plates and roll film, faster lenses and a wider range of metals and construction techniques to make cameras allowed designer’s ideas to be fulfilled. E. Enjalbert’s Photo-Revolver de Poche of 1883 was designed using real revolver parts and made ten exposures on 2 × 2 cm plates. Stirn’s Vest camera of 1886 was based on R. D. Gray’s American patent and was designed to be hidden behind a waistcoat with the lens poking through a button hole. Krügener’s book camera of 1889 was sold in dif- ferent countries under different name and the Lancaster patent watch camera of 1886 was the first of a number of cameras disguised as pocket watches.
Cameras were also disguised as satchels, a group of books, binoculars, walking sticks, hats and cravatte. Some produced photographs that were acceptable within the limits of the negative size and lens, others, especially later on were novelties in the worst sense of the word and little more than toys.
CAMERA DESIGN: GENERAL
It may seem like an anachronism but the discovery and use of the camera actually precedes the discovery of photography by hundreds of years. The phenomenon of the camera obscura (Latin for ‘dark room’) had been known since ancient times. If a small hole is made in the window blind of a darkened room, an inverted image of the scene outside the window is produced on the oppo- site wall of the room. A clear description of the camera obscura is contained in the manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci in the fifteenth century and by the middle of the sixteenth century, lenses had begun to be used to increase the brightness and sharpness of the image. By the seventeenth century, portable box-form versions had appeared and these were used widely by artists as aids for sketching. Portable camera obscuras like these were used by the inventors of photography and are the direct precursors of the photographic camera.
The first photographic camera to go on public sale was manufactured by Alphonse Giroux in 1839. This was an adaptation of a camera obscura design and consisted of two wooden boxes, one sliding within the other, one fitted with the lens and the other holding the focusing screen and plate holder. Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, the sliding box design was the standard for general photography. Sliding box cameras had a number of advantages—they were robust and simple to make and use. However, they were heavy and bulky to carry around. To try and solve this problem, several manufac- turers produced folding, collapsible versions of sliding box cameras. With the lens panel and focussing screen removed, hinged side panels could be collapsed to make a compact package. Most cameras were simple, wooden boxes, but there were some novel and ingenious uses of other materials and designs for specific applications. For example, Voigtlander’s conical all-metal camera for daguerreotype portraits.
The camera design most popularly associated with the Victorian period is the folding stand camera, fitted with bellows. Several designs for folding cameras fit- ted with flexible bodies in place of solid wooden boxes appeared in the early 1850s. These used cloth bags and struts. In 1857, a camera design which used pleated bellows was patented by the Scottish photographer, Kinnear. Kinnear’s design became the standard and was copied by most manufacturers. By the 1860s, folding bellows cameras had become established as the tool for general photography. There were many different manu- facturers and variants but most differed from each other only in detail, the basic design remaining unchanged until well into the twentieth century. Folding bellows cameras were produced in a range of formats and for a variety of applications—for example, twin lens cameras for stereoscopic photography and large format cameras on heavy stands for studio-based portraiture.
The introduction of commercially manufactured gela- tine dry plates in the late 1870s made ‘instantaneous’ exposures fully practical for the first time and the first cameras designed to be used whilst held in the hand camera appeared. Hand cameras developed along three distinct lines—box-form or ‘detective’ cameras; folding or strut cameras; and hand and stand cameras.
In 1881, Thomas Bolas took out a British patent for a box-form plate camera. Because it could be used in the hand, inconspicuously, he coined the name ‘detec- tive camera’ for his invention. The term came to be applied to almost all hand cameras that appeared up to the end of the century. Following their initial novelty, box-form plate cameras became less popular during the 1890s. In their place appeared a variety of compact
collapsing hand cameras in which the lens panel pulled out, attached to a bag or bellows, and was locked in position by struts.
Most detective cameras were simple wooden boxes, sometimes covered in leather or even brown paper so as to resemble bags or parcels. Some, however, took concealment a stage further. During the 1880s large numbers of disguised cameras appeared, designed to resemble, for example, books or watches or to be hidden in ties, hats or walking sticks or under worn beneath a waistcoat.
During the 1880s a number of designs appeared for hand cameras that held a number of plates that could be exposed successively, thus doing away with the need to change plate holders after each exposure. Incorporat- ing ingenious plate changing arrangements, these were known as magazine plate cameras and enjoyed their greatest popularity in the 1890s. However, by this time, hand cameras which used roll film instead of glass plates were becoming increasingly popular.
Roll-holders, which used bands of sensitised paper as an alternative to glass plates first appeared in the 1850s but the first to enjoy any commercial success was de- signed by George Eastman and William Walker in 1885. Eastman subsequently worked on incorporating his roll- holder into a simple camera and in 1888 he introduced his detective camera which gave one hundred exposures on sensitised paper film. Eastman decided to create a new trade name for his camera—a name that would be novel, distinctive and easily pronounced in most lan- guages. The name he came up with was ‘Kodak.’
The Kodak camera was successful from the start and it was followed during the 1890s by a range of folding and box-form Kodak roll film cameras of various for- mats. In 1900 the first Brownie camera was introduced —the camera that was to become synonymous with snapshot photography and was to transform the medium into a truly popular pastime.
The early years of photography were characterised by a limited range of camera designs, which served for a very wide range of applications. However, the end of the nineteenth century witnessed an absolute profusion of camera designs, reflected in over a thousand pages of advertisements in the British Journal Photographic Almanac. Long established family businesses using craft techniques competed with international corporations exploiting the economics of mass production. The use of traditional materials such as mahogany continued but metal became increasingly used in camera manufac- ture. Folding bellows stand cameras rubbed shoulders with reflex and magazine hand cameras. Plate cameras competed with roll film models and there were cam- eras aimed specifically at the amateur or professional market—from Brownies for family snapshots to strut cameras for press photography. In addition, there were specialised cameras for specific formats and applications such as stereo, panoramic and studio photography. In a period of sixty years, camera design had undergone a radical transformation, from hand-made wooden boxes to mass-produced precision engineering products.
CAMERA DESIGN: PANORAMIC
The history of panoramic photography can be traced back to the earliest days of the medium. William Henry Fox Talbot, for example, produced panoramic views in the early 1840s by rotating his camera after each exposure so as to produce a series of photographs, each overlapping the previous view slightly. Sequential panoramas such as these do not require a special cam- era. Soon, however, cameras designed specifically for making panoramic photographs in a single operation appeared. Panoramic cameras can be classified into three broad categories: cameras with rotating lenses and fixed plates or films; rotating cameras with moving plates or films; and, finally, cameras fitted with wide-angle lenses. Examples of all three types of panoramic camera were produced concurrently during the nineteenth century.
The first patent for a fixed-plate, rotating-lens pan- oramic camera was granted to an Austrian chemist, Joseph Puchberger, in 1843. His camera combined a curved daguerreotype plate with a lens that rotated by turning a hand crank, giving an image with an angle of view of about 150 degrees. Much better known is a cam- era designed on a very similar principle the following year by Friedrich von Martens, a German living in Paris. Called the Megaskop, this also produced panoramic da- guerreotypes on curved plates. In 1856, Ludwig Schul- ler, Martens’ nephew, used a version of this camera for wet-plate photography on curved glass plates. In 1884, P. Moessard was granted a patent for his Cylindrogra- phe camera. This used paper negative film in a curved flexible holder and covered up to 170 degrees with its swivelling lens that was rotated manually by turning
the viewfinder. The first panoramic camera to be sold in any quantity appeared in 1897. Made by the Multiscope & Film Co. in Wisconsin, this rotating-lens, roll-film camera was called the Al Vista. The rotating lens was driven by clockwork and covered an angle of nearly 180 degrees. Following the success of the Al Vista, Kodak soon entered the panoramic market with a hand-held snapshot panoramic camera. The first panoramic Kodak camera, the No. 4 Panoram Kodak, was introduced in 1899. This covered an angle of 142 degrees and pro- duced 3 inch by 12 inch negatives on roll-film running in a curve inside the back of the camera. Two traversing speeds could be set for the lens by adjusting the tension of a spring. In 1900, Kodak introduced another, similar model, the No. 1 Panoram Kodak, which recorded a slightly smaller angle of view. Panoram Kodak cameras remained on the market until the 1920s and reflected the popularity of panoramic photography during the early years of the twentieth century. Panoram Kodaks were used by several prominent photographers of the time, including George Davison. They could be used both horizontally and, less commonly, vertically, to record subjects such as trees, tall buildings or waterfalls.
The second group of panoramic cameras are those that combine a rotating camera with a moving plate or film. In 1862, John R. Johnson and John A. Harrison took out a patent for their Pantascopic camera that pro- duced panoramic photographs by rotating the camera and, at the same time, moving a glass plate. The camera body was rotated by a clockwork motor. As the camera rotated, a wet collodion plate was moved in synchro- nism, past an exposing slot in the camera back, to record an angle of view of 110 degrees. For cameras of this type, roll-film was much more convenient than glass plates. Following the introduction of flexible paper, then celluloid, film in the 1880s, a number of new designs appeared based on a similar principle. These included Stirn’s Wonder Panoramic camera of 1889, Damoizeau’s Cyclographe camera of 1890 and Stewart’s Panoramic camera of 1895. The best-known and most widely used rotating and moving-film panoramic camera appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century. Patented in 1904, the Cirkut camera was produced in a variety of models and sizes which all worked in essentially the same way. The camera was rotated by a clockwork motor which also moved the roll of film past an expos- ing slot in synchrony with the turning of the camera. Cirkut cameras were still being produced in the 1940s and were extremely popular for panoramic large group photographs. Because the camera traversed relatively slowly, it was possible for a person standing at the end of the group where the camera started to run to the other end of the group before the camera reached there—and to magically appear twice on the same photograph.
The last, and least numerous, type of panoramic cameras are those which are fitted with a wide-angle lens. The first panoramic camera to use such a lens was devised by an Englishman, Thomas Sutton, in 1859. Sutton was granted a British patent for a spheri- cal, water-filled lens that gave a field of view of 120 degrees. He is said to have been inspired by looking at a glass ‘snowstorm’ souvenir, popular with Victorian tourists, that a friend had brought home from Paris. Cameras incorporating Sutton’s innovative lens were made by London camera makers Frederick Cox and, later, Thomas Ross. To compensate for the lens’s cur- vature of field, these cameras used curved glass plates. This meant, however, that they had to be supplied with a special, curved sensitising tank and a curved printing frame. It is estimated that only around thirty Sutton panoramic cameras were made.
CAMERA DESIGN: STEREO CAMERAS
The stereoscope was devised in 1838 by Charles Wheat- stone to demonstrate the principle of binocular vision and its role in depth perception. Using pairs of drawings to represent the slightly different images seen by each eye, the stereoscope used mirrors to superimpose them into a single image with a three-dimensional appear- ance. With the invention of photography a decade later, the images used in the stereoscope could be infinitely more varied and detailed, and the effect of solidity more startling. Initially, a single camera was used to produce two daguerreotypes or calotypes in succession; the operator would move the camera a couple of inches to one side between exposures in the attempt to produce pictures that corresponded as closely as possible to what was seen by the two eyes. This was a process of trial and error—once superimposed in the stereoscope, the effect of three-dimensionality might be compromised by inadequate (or exaggerated) distance between the two exposures, or by alteration of the camera angle, the subject’s position, or lighting conditions.
In 1849 Sir David Brewster invented a refracting, lens-based stereoscope that was more portable and easier to use than Wheatstone’s reflecting model, and
in 1851 the wet-plate collodion process was introduced. These two innovations cemented the alliance between stereoscopy and photography and gave rise to the ste- reoscopic industry. Photographers and camera manufac- turers immediately turned their attention to the specific requirements of the Brewster stereoscope. Stereographs were—two 8.2 cm square pictures, separated by about 0.6 cm, mounted side by side on a 11.4 × 17.8-cm card. They were standardized, and mass-produced photo- graphic images, dominating the commercial market from 1852 to 1880.
There were very early cameras which took two sepa- rate exposures on two separate plates. The camera body slid on a baseboard taking two separate and sequential square plates (Powell 1858 for example). Another device mounted pairs of cameras (Jacob Brett, 1853), where another camera had a sliding lens panel which took two sequential images on the same plate (Spencer, 1854).
Two basic types of cameras were designed to produce stereoscopic pairs: single-lensed and double-lensed. British engineer and photographic enthusiast Latimer Clark presented the first single-lensed stereoscopic camera at the fourth meeting of the Photographic So- ciety, in 1853. Clark mounted an ordinary box camera on a grooved baseboard that allowed its position to be changed quickly and consistently between exposures. The direction or angle of the camera could be adjusted by pivoting the rulers mounted on the board. This ac- commodated an early theory of stereoscopic picture- making, known as toeing-in, according to which the camera’s position should be adjusted and angled for the second exposure so that near objects in the center of the first exposure were also in the center of the second.
Clark further improved the single-lensed camera with a repeating back which allowed a stereoscopic pair to be produced on a single plate. With the camera pushed to the right side of the baseboard, the first exposure (repre- senting what the right eye would see) was made on the left side of the plate. The camera was then slid to the left, the dark slide pushed home, and the second exposure (the left eye’s view) made next to the first on the right side of the plate. Transposed in printing, the resulting pair could be viewed in the Brewster stereoscope.
Lens distance emerged as the most controversial aspect of stereophotography. A separation greater than the normal 6.4 cm between the eyes produces a slight reduction in scale but an increased illusion of solidity, enhancing landscape views in particular. Single-lensed camera with long baseboards, such as that designed by Andrew Ross, allowed experimentation with these hyperstereoscopic effects, which some criticized as deceptive, a perversion of the principle of binocular vision.
Double-lensed camaras fixed the distance between the two exposures, typically at about 8.9 cm, slightly greater than average interocular distance. Developed in the early 1850s by Achille Quinet, the first double-lensed model to become widely available was patented in 1856 by John Benjamin Dancer. The Manchester instrument maker had experienced difficulties taking two separate pictures, and decided to construct a camera “in form somewhat like” the Brewster stereoscope. Dancer’s advocacy of strict interocular distance went against the grain in the early 1850s; he later recalled that his camera was at first “much ridiculed by those who were supposed to be authorities on the subject.” Yet they came into common use.
The simplest version of the binocular camera has two lenses with focal lengths of 10.8-14 cm mounted in a front panel; a central partition divides the rear box. With this design the lenses had to be uncapped one after the other. Various modifications provided portability, afford- ability, or rapidity—advantages that compensated for the fact that the side-by-side pictures, once printed, had to be transposed before being mounted to a cardboard support. For example, in some models, the partition was hinged at the top and spring loaded so it could be pushed out of the way to accommodate the lens panel, which folded inside the camera for protection of the lenses in carrying. Dancer reintroduced Noël Marie Paymal Lerebours’s idea of placing wheel diaphragms in front of lenses with different apertures (12-4 mm). With lenses of 11.4 cm focal length, these provided effective apertures of f/9 to f/28. A flat strip of brass attached to the center of the lens panel served as a shutter; it could be pivoted to cover or uncover both lenses simultaneously.
Stereo cameras incorporated improvements that proved important to other branches of photographic practice. Since the image size is small, stereo cameras had short focal lengths and short exposure times—the first so-called instantaneous photographs (1/5 second ex- posure) were produced by George Washington Wilson in 1857 with a binocular camera. Stereo cameras were also adapted to produce the other leading commercial pho- tographic format, the carte-de-visite. André-Adolphe- Eugène Disdéri designed a 4-lensed camera with a sliding plateholder in 1864, which efficiently produced eight poses exposures on a single plate. Cameras with even more lenses followed.
The introduction of dry plate photography in 1871 prompted manufacturers to design a wide variety of compete stereoscopic outfits, with lids forming trays where camera could be placed when in operation. A single-lens stereoscopic outfit, including darkslides and the grooved board, could be fitted into a wooden box about 33 × 18 × 15 cm. For binocular cameras, Dancer introduced an attached plate box with a rack-and-pin- ion system that allowed the photographer to expose a sequence of plates in full daylight.
The late 1850s and early 1860s represent the height
of stereo camera production, with the most models were available for a range of prices. Amateurs (such as Viscountess Clementina Elphinstone Hawarden), professionals (such as Francis Frith, William England, Adolphe Braun, and Timothy O’Sullivan), and publish- ers (such as the London Stereoscopic Company and T. & E. Anthony) took up stereophotography for experimental or commerical purposes, and camera design generally adopted innovations introduced to ordinary cameras, as in George Hare’s bellows design of 1882, for example. Later in the century, the portable hand camera eclipsed the stereo camera, which would reappear in different guises in the twentieth century.
CAMERON, HENRY HERSCHEL HAY (c. 1852–1911)
English photographer and studio owner
The youngest son of the great Julia Margaret Cameron, it is perhaps not surprising that one of the best known photographs by Henry Herschel Hay Cameron is a portrait of his mother, taken c. 1870. Like his mother, he also photographed Alfred Lord Tennyson (c. 1886) and the artist George Frederick Watts (c. 1885).
Despite reportedly having very poor eyesight, he established a well-deserved reputation as a fine photo- grapher, combining commercial portraiture with active membership of the Linked Ring. Indeed he was one of the founder members of the brotherhood in May 1892 and he was known to the brotherhood by the pseudonym ‘Vintner.’
Cameron is listed in London trade directories as the operating a studio at 70 Mortimer Street in London from 1886, subsequently occupying premises at 20 Mortimer Street and in Hanover Square into the 20th century.
His technique—in a reportedly small and cramped studio—was to use only daylight from a small skylight, controlled by a simple calico blind.
Simplicity was his trademark, and in a letter pre- served in the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Collec- tion at the NMPFT Bradford, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe remembered Cameron’s advice on dress to a female sitter—‘As little and simple as possible, madam, just a wisp of thin muslin over the shoulders will be quite enough, and will not date the portrait’.
CAMERON, JULIA MARGARET (1815–1878)
British photographer of portraits and genre scenes
Julia Margaret Cameron was born in 1815 in Calcutta, a week before the Battle of Waterloo and a quarter of a century before the announcement of the invention of photography. Her father, James Pattle, was an English- man working in India; her mother, Thérèse l’Etang, was French. Of the Pattles’ ten children, three died in infancy, leaving Julia and six sisters, all with dark complexions and eyes—inherited from their mother’s Indian great grandmother. As children, all seven girls were sent to Europe for the sake of their health and their education, spending much of their childhood with their maternal grandmother in Paris and Versailles.
At the age of 21, Julia and her parents were in South Africa, where they had gone—like many other Euro- peans living and working in India—to convalesce after illnesses. There she met Charles Hay Cameron, twenty years her senior and an important figure in the British administration of India. Two years later, back in Cal- cutta, they were married. In Cape Town, too, Julia met another man who was to become very important to her —the astronomer and scientist Sir John Herschel (whom she was later to call her ‘Teacher and High Priest’).
The newly wed Camerons were soon at the pinnacle of Anglo-Indian society. Charles had succeeded Lord Macaulay in 1843 as the only member of the Supreme Council of India not employed by the East India Com- pany; a year later, when Sir Henry Hardinge arrived in Calcutta as Governor, he left his wife in England and Julia became—at the age of only thirty—his official hostess. Five years later, the Camerons returned to England. Charles was not a healthy man, and he seems
to have assumed he could live off the income from his coffee plantations in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), a country he had got to first know when writing his 1832 report on its ‘judicial establishment and procedure.’
Charles and Julia were soon as well placed in fashion- able London life as they had been in India. The seven Pattle daughters all made ‘good marriages’ and one, Sara, had returned to London with her husband, Henry Thoby Prinsep, five years before the Camerons. The Prinseps set up house first in fashionable Mayfair, then in Little Holland House, where they surrounded them- selves with a coterie of painters (notably George Fred- erick Watts, who soon moved in), musicians, scientists, and politicians. By then, the Camerons lived three miles away and, though the sickly Charles was often confined to his bed, Julia was frequently at Little Holland House, cultivating the company of the celebrities who would later become subjects of her portraits. She had already met two famous poets—Alfred Tennyson and Henry Taylor (who had been one of Tennyson’s rivals for the post of Poet laureate in 1850).
In 1853, Tennyson moved to the village of Freshwa- ter, at the quiet, west end of the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. Six years later, while Charles Cameron was visiting his estates in Ceylon with two of their sons, Julia took the two younger boys to stay with the Tennysons and, apparently on impulse, purchased two seaside cottages. Tennyson drove a road down across his estate to the sea to avoid the tourists who came to stare at one of England’s most famous men (ac- cording to one witness, he was almost obsessed by the thought that everyone was staring at him), and opened a private gate from the grounds of his home, ‘Farringford,’ into those of ‘Dimbola,’ as the Camerons’ house was called, after one of their estates in Ceylon. Soon, the two families were attracting as many celebrities of the day as at Little Holland House.
Organising musical evenings, poetry readings, plays (she soon built her own theatre) and parties apparently failed to satisfy Cameron’s restless energy and intellect. Late in 1863, when Charles was again away in Ceylon, their daughter Julia and her husband, gave Cameron a camera ‘It may amuse you, Mother, to try to photograph during your solitude at Freshwater.’ There is evidence that Cameron had taken a few photographs before this, or at least collaborated with other photographers; she seems to have experimented with printing other people’s negatives. She told Herschel that the painter David Wilkie Wynfield, who made a series of photographs of his fellow painters in fancy dress in the early 1860s, had given her a lesson. It certainly seems unlikely that her children would give her a cumbersome 11" × 9" camera, with its attendant chemical and other accessories, unless she had already shown some interest in the subject.
Cameron herself dated the beginning of her photographic career from this acquisition of a camera of her own and wrote on most surviving prints of a portrait of Annie Philpot taken soon after, ‘My first success.’ She was immensely proud of the picture and immediately sent it to Annie’s father (a minor Victorian poet) with a covering note: ‘My first perfect success in the complete Photograph owing greatly to the docility & sweetness of my best & fairest sitter. This Photograph was taken by me at 1 p.m. Friday Jan. 29th. Printed—Toned—fixed and framed all by me I given as it is now by 8 p.m. this same day.’
Cameron had at last found an outlet for her restless energy and enthusiasm: ‘I turned my coal-house into my dark room, and a glazed fowl house I had given my children became my glass house. The hens were liberated, I hope and believe not eaten. The profit of my boys upon new laid eggs was stopped, and all hands and hearts sympathised in my new labour, since the society of hens and chickens was soon changed for that of poets, prophets, painters and lovely maidens, who all in turn have immortalized the humble little farm erection.’ These words, like all her others quoted in this article, come from the twenty manuscript pages of her autobiographical fragment Annals of my Glasshouse, written in 1864 but not published until 1889.
Cameron, Julia Margaret. Zoe, Maid of Athens.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, and Muriel Kallis Newman Gifts, 1997 (1997.382.38) Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Among the many ‘poets, prophets and painters’ who
came to be photographed at Dimbola were Charles Dar- win, Benjamin Jowett, Henry Longfellow, James Sped- ding, Henry Taylor, Tennyson, Anthony Trollope and G. F. Watts. Others, such as the writers Robert Browning and Thomas Carlyle, had their portraits taken at Little Holland House, to which Cameron sometimes took her equipment. For a select few important subjects, such as Herschel, she went to their homes. By determined ap- plication over roughly a decade, she assembled a large portfolio of fine ‘close-up’ portraits of male heads, virtually life size by virtue of the large negatives she used (at first 11" × 9" and later 15" × 12"), photographic equivalents of the series which G. F. Watts painted as a ‘Hall of Fame and donated to London’s National Portrait Gallery.
These extraordinarily powerful portraits were argu- ably the first ‘close-up’ photographs in history (had the Frenchman Nadar made larger prints, he might have had a prior claim). All taken against a totally dark back- ground, they show only the sitters’ head and shoulders, while their bodies are draped in dark cloth. Some are in profile—a rather unnatural way of looking at people. Perhaps this was prompted by the intense interest at the time in human physiognomy as an indicator of character, and the widely practised ‘science’ of phrenology—de- ducing the power and range of a person’s mental abili- ties from the shape of the head. Cameron’s remarkably virtuoso control of lighting in these close-ups—usually from the top, from one side only—certainly highlights every detail, valley and bump.
Cameron’s photographs of ‘maidens’ are blander and less dramatic. Though she did photograph such female celebrities as Marianne North and Marie Spartali (painters), Anne Thackeray (Thackeray’s daughter, a successful author in her own right) and Christina Ros- setti (no print of this portrait is known to survive), it was extremely difficult for women in Victorian Britain to achieve public status in their own right. Most of Cameron’s female subjects were family and friends, and her main criterion for selecting them was their beauty—especially the sort of long-necked, long-haired, immature beauty familiar in Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Two of her favourite models were maids in the Cameron household—Mary Ann Hillier (frequently seen as some Madonna or other) and Mary Ryan, an Irish beggar girl whom Cameron had taken on at least partly, it seems, because of her good looks. The majority of her female models were teenagers, though their dress often makes them look older. With such subjects, she draws her camera back from its extreme close-up position, uncov- ers all the windows in her glasshouse studio and makes everything softer and prettier.
The children who appeared in her photographs were often local, too. Young Freddy Gould, who was posed as several Biblical characters, including Christ, was the son of a fisherman. With him are often seen one or more of the four children of Thomas Keown, Master Gunner at Freshwater Redoubt, the Royal Artillery fort within sight of ‘Dimbola.’ One of the few local men portrayed as himself rather than as a fictional character was a young artilleryman, and officers from the fort were often entertained at Dimbola, sometimes taking part in productions at ‘Mrs Cameron’s Thatched Theatre,’ in its grounds.
Though Cameron obviously had a taste for fancy dress—perhaps partly as a result of David Wilkie Wynfield’s teaching—she never seems to have photo- graphed scenes from the plays staged in her theatre. She did take the young Lionel Tennyson in costume as the Marquis of St. Cast, a character in Tom Taylor’s potboiler Payment on Demand, typical of the Victo- rian melodramas and farces she put on, despite her otherwise rather sophisticated literary tastes. The home-made settings and heightened gestures used in her literary illustrations and genre scenes have a clear affinity with nineteenth century photographs of such performances and even the first efforts of silent film- makers two decades later.
Though Cameron had made illustrations of liter- ary, classical and Biblical stories throughout her short photographic career, this element of her work came to an obsessive peak toward the end of that decade, when she made—at Tennyson’s suggestion—a series of il- lustrations for his Idylls of the King and other poems. These were published, probably largely at her own expenses, in two large format volumes, in 1874 and 1875. Her visualisations of poetry are different in style and achievement from those of any other photographer of the time. Her contemporaries decorated books of poetry by Burns, Gray, Milton, Scott, Shakespeare and others with picturesque landscapes, occasionally peopling these with attractively disposed figures in the scenery, but rarely illustrating actual characters or in- cidents from the story. Cameron certainly shares some of their taste for romantic imagery, but her illustrations are tougher, often conveying strong emotions—tragic as well as romantic.
It has been persuasively argued that many of them—not just the considerable number with Biblical or religious titles—were informed by her enthusiasm for Christianity but today, when public knowledge of such stories and symbols, and of classical literature, is minimal, her pictures still have a powerful directness and emotional impact.
In October 1875, at the height of Cameron’s fame, she and Charles suddenly left Freshwater to return to Ceylon. As far as we know, she photographed only one celebrity there—Marianne North, the botanical painter. Cameron did take some pictures of ‘natives’ as she
described them (just as she had called the residents of the Isle of Wight ‘peasants’). But she took relatively few, even of these, and her photographic career was almost over. In 1879 she died and—as has often been quoted—the last word to pass her lips was ‘Beauty.’ Whether the story is true or not, no word could have been more appropriate.
Julia Margaret Cameron was born on 1815 in Calcutta, India. An extremely energetic and talented writer and artist, in an age when it was difficult for women to achieve success in such fields, she became interested in photography in the late 1850s, and took it up seriously at the beginning of 1864, having been given a large camera by her daughter and son-in-law.
She instantly began to take a series of compelling portraits (many of them, especially those of intellec- tual and artistic men of the day, in extreme close-up), illustrations of Biblical scenes, and of literature. Her enthusiasm for staging scenes from literature reached its peak in two volumes of illustrations for her friend Alfred Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and other poems, published—largely at her own expense, it seems—in 1874 and 1875. Soon after, she and her husband left England to live in Ceylon, where he owned coffee plantations. She took a few photographs there, but spent most of her time helping her husband and his family run their estates. She died in 1879.