Tue 8 Jan 2013
Boyd Harris - Three Centuries of Photography
Illustrating how photography through
the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries has been used to document
history and enhance new technology and social media.
a key part of historical research and documentation.
The first part of the presentation gave an introduction to the
development of photography.
The name camera derives from ‘camera obscura’ or dark room. In
the 16th century it was commonly used to provide an initial
sketch to produce a painting or drawing. It was known that in a
dark room a pinprick in a window blind would allow light through
and if a screen was put near the hole an inverted image of the
outside view could be seen. This wasn’t permanent but in 1826
Nicéphore Niépce projected an image on to a sensitised sheet and
was able to make the first photograph.
However there was no way of reproducing the photo and it wasn’t
until 1835 that Fox Talbot produced the first reproducible image
of a Lacock Abbey window. He made a negative image on paper
which could be contacted printed on to another sheet and thereby
1826 Nicéphore Niépce photograph
1835 Lacock Abbey window by Fox Talbot.
The first reproducible negative.
Some of the first war photographs were taken by Roger Fenton of
the Crimean war from 1854 onwards.
The wet plate collodion process
wasn't very portable.
Frederick Scott Archer (1813 - 1857) introduced a wet plate
process, sometimes referred to as the collodion process.
Negatives were made on glass plates but the sensitised material
had to be made just prior to taking the photograph meaning a
studio or mobile tent was needed to make the photo.
The break through came in 1871 when Richard Leach Maddox (1816 –
1902) helped to produce lightweight dry gelatine negative glass
plates. This meant that the plates could be carried ready
sensitised and no tent was needed. The process was now available
to all and many photographic societies were formed shortly
The next major breakthrough was in 1884 when George Eastman
developed the technology of flexible film to replace glass
T.B.Parke (centre back) with some
of his workers.
Joseph Blackburn, Peter Brindle (Long Peter), T.B.Parke
Richard Cranshaw (sitting), John Eccles, John Hilston. c1875
A valuable image as Thomas Parke wrote the names on the back of
the print. This means that the census records can now be used to
find out family and personal information about all the men.
In July 1888
Eastman's Kodak camera went on the market with the slogan
"You press the button, we do the rest"
Apart from improvements in film quality and sensitivity there
was little change for over a hundred years.
In 1994 the first digital cameras for the consumer market that
worked with a home computer via a cable link was introduced.
From that point on there has a rapid improvement and a 2013
digital pocket camera can produce images of equal quality to a
large digital SLR (single lens reflex) of 5 or 6 years ago.
Edward Hodkinson(1894 - 1975)
Les Chapman (1907 - 2008)
Chorley photographers made an incredible contribution to our
history by taking many photographs of local people and events.
Both men took photographs while serving in the World Wars;
Edwards during the WW1 (The Great War) and Les during WW2.
photography to document change.
Lyons Lane Chorley Jan 2013
site of Lawrence's Mill Offices.
Lyons Lane Chorley Feb 20110
Lawrence's Mill Offices prior to demolition.
Townley St / Lyons Lane, Chorley Jan 2013
demolished Lawrence's Mill.
Townley St / Lyons Lane, Chorley Feb 2010
Lawrence's Mill prior to demolition.
image file now holds much more information that just the image.
All the exposure information is encoded including date and time.
Many cameras now have GPS (global positioning system) sensors
that receive satellite date to produce accurate latitude,
longitude, and altitude position data.
This is a great aid to historical record photography as where
and when are vital ingredients.
Loading images on websites with associated information in text
format means that the photograph is accessible worldwide via a
simple text search. It is a wonderful way to share information
and also receive updates to fill gaps where information is
With images now being introduced into on-line social media such
as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa and others we are making
historical information available to all.
The main lesson to be learned from the evening is that a
photograph with no information about it's content is mostly
useless for historical research. Anyone with old family photos
or similar, that knows something about the photo, names etc.,
should write it on the back in soft pencil. The photograph then
becomes a valuable aid to research.