Captured Moments – Historical Photographs

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Probably there is no technique that is, with such great passion, used against forgetting, like photography. We like to take photographs of the memorable moments – obviously in the knowledge that even the unforgettable can be forgotten. In the first decades photography was a matter of professional photographers and less ambitious amateurs. Photography was not invented in a day, it was rather a development that has been driven by many tinkerers from the late 18th century. Chemists who found light-sensitive substances and several Inventors who tried to stabilize the image and fixate it with different technics. Ancient techniques such as the ferrotypes, cyanotypes, glasplates and other are in focus of the exhibition “The captured Moment – Historical Photographs”.

The small collection of ferrotypes from Austria, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany and Hungary dated between 1890-1920 include classic studio portraits and group images as well as pictures of itinerant photographers.The ferrotype or tintype is an early form of photography that has left a permanent mark in history. This cheaper version of the daguerreotype became very fashionable, enabling a wide audience access to portrait photography. This photographic direct-positive process was used between 1855 and the 1930s.

The early glasplates from Desirée van Monckhoven (1834–1882) a Belgian chemist, physicist, and photographic researcher are the heritage of one of the pioneers of Photography. Monckhoven wrote several of the earliest books on photography and photographic optics. As an inventor he was experimenting with different techniques. Some of these photographic experiments are on display such as the cyanotype of a war time image on a ceramic plate or the rural sceneries of the belgian countryside captured using salt print and other techniques.

Ferrotype or tintype

Photography was not invented in a day, it was rather a development that has been driven by many tinkerers from the late 18th century. Chemists who found light-sensitive substances and several Inventors who tried to stabilize the image and fixate it with different technics. The ferrotype or tintype is an early form of photography that has left a permanent mark in history. This cheaper version of the daguerreotype was very fashionable especially in the 1860s and 1870s, enabling a wide audience access to portrait photography. This photographic directpositive process which was used between 1855 and the 1930s, was a variation of the collodion positive, and used a similar process to wet plate photography. A very underexposed negative image was produced on a thin iron plate. It was blackened by painting, lacquering or enamelling, and coated with a collodion photographic emulsion. The dark background gave the resulting image the appearance of a positive. Unlike collodion positives, ferrotypes did not need mounting in a case to produce a positive image. The ability

to utilise a very under exposed image meant that a photographer could prepare, expose, develop, and varnish a ferrotype plate in just a few minutes. This, along with the resilience and cheapness of the medium (iron, rather than glass), meant that ferrotypes soon replaced collodion positives as the favourite ʻinstantʼ process used by itinerant photographers.

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