Photo Class Blog


Sepia Toning Sesh Thursday, Nov 30


Photo students –
We will be stinking up the joint by sepia (more specifically, sodium sulfide) toning prints on Wednesday, Nov 30 at 9AM. Be sure to bring UNMOUNTED prints – you’ll even have time to make a b/w print, wash it, and tone it.

Sepia toning is a specialized treatment to give a black-and-white photographic print a warmer tone and to enhance its archival qualities. Chemicals are used to convert the metallic silver in the print to a sulfide compound, which is much more resistant to the effects of environmental pollutants such as atmospheric sulfur compounds. Silver sulfide is at least 50% more stable than silver.

There are three types of sepia toner in modern use;

  1. Sodium sulfide toners – the traditional ‘rotten egg’ toner;
  2. Thiourea (or ‘thiocarbamide’) toners – these are odorless and the tone can be varied according to the chemical mixture;
  3. Polysulfide or ‘direct’ toners – these do not require a bleaching stage.

Except for polysulfide toners, sepia toning is done in three stages. First the print is soaked in a potassium ferricyanide bleach to re-convert the metallic silver to silver halide. The print is washed to remove excess potassium ferricyanide then immersed into a bath of toner, which converts the silver halides to silver sulfide.

Incomplete bleaching creates a multi-toned image with sepia highlights and gray mid-tones and shadows. This is called split toning. The untoned silver in the print can be treated with a different toner, such as gold or selenium.

For more info on Toners, go here.

For a list of toners and dyes available from Freestyle, go here.


ART 1011 Term Paper Assignment

Image on right taken on December 21, 2011

Image on right taken on December 21, 2011

PRINT THIS OUT if you lose your copy:

Writing this Research Paper

ART 1011


As your assignment for a term paper in ART 1011, you have been assigned a photographer whose work is important in the history of photography. You will write a term paper about the artist, exploring the relevance of the artist’s life and times to his or her art making, using examples of the artist’s works to underscore the thesis you will develop about the artist.

Begin a working bibliography of references that deal with the work of the artist. Before you narrow how you will approach your research, start reading. Look for material about the artist’s specific works, as well as material about the artist. Your working bibliography should contain the information of the texts you read to help you keep your research organized. Your research sources are critical for this assignment. Use the library and the internet for your primary research. Here are some sites to get you going.

Google search for Master Photographers

DUE DATE IS: Sunday, Dec 10th at MIDNIGHT.


Papers MUST be submitted to

Register for this class using the ID and password provided:

16754003 (Class ID)

7019 (password)


ART1011 Final Crit • Photo Essay

Print out this assignment (PDF)

As your final assignment for ART1011, you will tell a story using sequential images. A minimum of five images must be used, and no more than seven are allowed. Images must be mounted and presented at Final Crit.

Working With Photography Themes
Working with themes is a great way to practice your photographic skills. When choosing a theme you can choose:

  • Similar subject matter (war, poverty, sports, doors etc)
  • Similar technical composition (all black and white photographs, all negative space photographs)
  • Similar mood or feeling (representation of love, anger, fear etc).

It’s good to learn how to work within themes because if you ever want to create a photography portfolio, most art directors and curators want to see them organized by a particular theme. Likewise, if you’ll ever have your work shown in a gallery a theme is a must. Galleries will never just place a mishmash of photos up on their walls. They need to be organized in some type of thematic grouping.

Random Ideas:

Urban Exploration; Street Portraits; Letters or Numbers; Vintage Signs; Set-up Scenes; Social Issues; Abstraction/Conceptual; Textures; Music; Emotions; Reflections; Shadows; Self Portraits; Perspective; Night; Specific Objects (tattoos, couches, whatever!)

Making Photo Essays

Taking a thematic approach in photography is like writing an essay. You want it to tell a story, take a stand, give examples, allow for debate and have your work organized in such a way that it’s understandable to the general public.

Like a writer, a photographer is a story teller. However, instead of using words you’ll use pictures. Although a series of pictures that make up a photo essay can be taken in a single day, they more often are taken over a longer period of time as photographers spend more time with his or her subjects. When telling stories about a specific neighborhood, for example, the photographer may return to the neighborhood for months or even years.

Photographers gain a special understanding of their photo essay subject because they are around the subject for a period of time. As a result, the photographer learns where and when he or she is most likely to capture the best pictures as the photo essay develops.

Final critique date is Thursday Dec 14 at 10AM – (NOTE THE TIME!)

Attendance is required – no excuses accepted. If you are late or leave early, you will receive an “F” for the final critique (150 points). If you miss the final critique entirely, you will receive an “F” for the course.

Bring your final assignment, any past assignments overdue, and your binder of negatives, contacts and prints.

The grade you earn is based on the following point accumulation: Critiques 1, 2, 3a, 3b, &4 (450 points); quizzes and essays (100 points total); term paper (100 points); your final critique (150 points); your binder (50 points); your class participation (150 points).

Example Kirsten Hoving/Emma Powell

Click here for a website with some great ideas about photo essays.


The 19th Century in Photography, Pt. III

 Bichonnade Leaping, Jacques-Henri Lartigue © Jacques-Henri Lartigue Foundation

Bichonnade Leaping, Jacques-Henri Lartigue
© Jacques-Henri Lartigue

Gelatine Poem
“Onward still, and onward still it runs its sticky way
And Gelatine you’re bound to use if you mean to pay your way
Collodion – slow old fogey! – your palmy days have been,
You must give place in the future to plates of Gelatine.” Anonymous, 1879

In 1878, in the midst of an era marked by both opulence and abject poverty known as the Victorian Age, a British scientist named Charles Bennett mixed a syrupy silver halide/ gelatin solution. He allowed it to ripen at 90 degrees F for a few days. Afterword, he was delighted to discover that the solution was remarkably light sensitive – exposures in full sun that used to take up to ten seconds were now reduced to fractions of a second. Falling water drops, people jumping, a baseball game – a new age in capturing images was about to get underway.

The ability of gelatin to hold silver halide crystals in an emulsion is still in virtually all photographic films and photographic papers. Despite some efforts, no suitable substitutes with the stability and low cost of gelatin have been found.

Imagine what this breakthrough meant to Victorian era photographers. First off, because of the speed of the exposures made possible by gelatin emulsions, trustworthy shutters would need to be perfected in order to control the light hitting the negative. No more using the lens cap and a timer to measure out the seconds. Also tripods are no longer required, as faster exposures meant that portable cameras could be used in a hand-held fashion.

This ushered in an era of unprecedented popularity for photography. Up to this time, photography had established itself as a viable commercial venture, if one could master the burdensome details of making images. It demanded some serious technical acumen, and required a budget that was out of reach for nearly everyone. Now, photographers could buy dry glass plates that were coated at the factory with silver gelatin emulsions. Plate holders could be pre-loaded before a photographic journey, and developed days later – at the photographer’s convenience.

Alas – it was still out of reach for the Everyman. The glass plates used were still unwieldy… but never underestimate America’s ability to mass produce an idea that would appeal to popular culture! Everything would soon change, thanks to an upstate New Yorker named George Eastman and the introduction of nitrocellulose roll film.


Originally, Kodak camera images were circular.

By the end of the 19th century, the three most interesting developments in photography were:

  • The Rise of Amateurism (see JR Lartigue)
  • Pictorialism, whose practitioners wanted to elevate photography as an art form. Pictorialists seemed ashamed of the camera’s ability to render detail, and chafed at the ease of which amateur photographers photographed the world.
  • Photography as a vehicle for social change (Jacob Riis, Lewis Wickes Hine)

Read in Textbook: pp197 through 202.

19th Century photo history exam review for History of 19th Century Photo test. 


The 19th Century in Photography, Part II

The Nineteenth Century in Photography, Part II – The Need for Speed

Personally, I find it fascinating that, as a species, we’re always trying to do things faster – even if it means less efficiently. Thus was certainly the case for mid-19th century photography, as the desire for more and more light sensitive emulsion was a natural impulse.

Faster emulsions meant faster exposures – photographs that were taking minutes and even hours were being shortened to seconds, enabling photographers to dream of the day that they would ARREST MOTION completely.

As beautiful and popular as Daguerre’s process was/is, the process was doomed because of its eventual lack of marketability. It was expensive, cumbersome and laborious, and required alot of practice. Talbot’s method of a paper negative, though not nearly as ‘pleasing,’ was much more salable, mainly because of its ability to make multiples.

Around 1850, the collodion process was introduced after its invention by Frederick Scott Archer. The collodion process is said to have been invented, almost simultaneously, by Frederick Scott Archer and Gustave Le Gray – yet another example of synchronicity in a discovery! By the end of that decade, wet plate collodion process had pretty much replaced both Daguerre’s and Talbot’s process. The process was portable, allowing photography to go out into the world.

Timothy O'Sullivan's darkroom wagon, pulled by four mules, entered the frame at the right side of the photograph, reached the center of the image, and abruptly U-turned, heading back out of the frame. Footprints leading from the wagon toward the camera reveal the photographer's path. Made at the Carson Sink in Nevada

Timothy O’Sullivan’s darkroom wagon, pulled by four mules, entered the frame at the right side of the photograph, reached the center of the image, and abruptly U-turned, heading back out of the frame. Footprints leading from the wagon toward the camera reveal the photographer’s path. Made at the Carson Sink in Nevada

Like every process thus far used by 19th century photogs, the size of the photograph was dictated by the size of the camera. Imagine wielding a mammoth 20×24 camera, complete with glass plates and a dark tent, on horseback! WPC yielded images in three ways – a glass negative, from which albumen (egg whites!) prints were made; a glass negative with an opaque backing (known as an ambrotype); and finally a direct print onto metal, known as the tintype.

Nordic Man. (c)Quinn Jacobson

Nordic Man. (c)Quinn Jacobson

Of course, the timing of the introduction of the WPC conincided in America with the Civil War, so we associate it with that era. But the fact remains that the process has it’s own special quality, including it’s uncanny ability to record the eyes.

The demise of Wet Plate Collodion process in photography was inevitable. It’s a difficult process that demands both sensitizing the plate and processing it while the photograph is being made. Not exactly a recipe for the spontaneity of the process we know today!

During the 1880s the collodion process, in turn, was largely replaced by gelatin dry plates—glass plates with a photographic emulsion of silver halides suspended in gelatin. The dry gelatin emulsion was not only more convenient but could be made much more sensitive, greatly reducing exposure times.

The conquering of time, photographically speaking, was inadvertently funded by none other that California gazillionaire Leland Stanford, who bet one of his cronies that a galloping horse’s feet simultaneously left the ground at some juncture. He funded Eadweard Muybridge‘s seminal “Motion Studies” to prove his point. The_Horse_in_Motion

American bison cantering – set to motion in 2006 using photos by Eadweard Muybridge

American bison cantering – set to motion in 2006 using photos by Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge is often credited with inventing the first movie projector – known as the zoopraxiscope. The modern era of Kodak soon followed – more on that in the next class!

The wet plate collodion process has undergone a revival as a historical technique over the past few decades. There are several practicing ambrotypists and tintypists who regularly set up and do images at Civil War re-enactments. Many fine art photographers also use the process and its handcrafted individuality for gallery showings and personal work. There are several makers of reproduction equipment for the contemporary practitioner. The process is taught in workshops around the world and several workbooks and manuals are currently in print.

Maybe we have succeeded in speeding things up to such an extent that we need to slow things back down. Why else would we have a slow-food movement? Many people feel a need to respond in kind to the industrial and technological ‘advances’ that seem to further separate us from understanding ourselves.

Quinn Jacobson demonstrates the WPC process:

Mark Osterman at the George Eastman House demonstrates WPC

Delphine Dauphy’s portable process

Sally Mann’s experience with WPC

From Lens to Photo: Sally Mann Captures Her Love

Chris McCaw’s Crazy DIY Large-Format Cameras | PDN Pulse.

Plus, here’s Ian Ruhter, WPC Addict:

The bigger the camera, the bigger the print!

Print out a PDF of this lecture.

Sources: Wikipedia; The Getty Institute;


The Invention of Photography: The Daguerreotype

The Invention of Photography: The Daguerreotype

Note to ART1011 Students: You will need this information for your notes. Please print out the attached .PDF

The year 1839 was a critical one, when an accumulation of efforts both modern and ancient reached a fevered pitch SIMULTANEOUSLY in France and England – resulting the end of a centuries-long  quest to ‘fix’ an image to a surface.

In France, Louis Daguerre took an idea that had been introduced to him by Nicéphore Niépce (who is considered the “Father of Photography,”) and perfected it. Daguerreotypes are images that sit on top of a mirror (hence, the popular term a mirror with a memory). The process is still considered by many as the benchmark of photographic quality. Unfortunately, much like a Polaroid, the daguerreotype is difficult to reproduce in duplicate, which limited its marketability.

Simultaneously, in England William Henry Fox Talbot invented an admittedly inferior photographic process, but it is important in that Talbot’s process introduced the idea of a photographic NEGATIVE. This resulted in a repeatable process in which multiples could easily be made.

Daguerre/Talbot Video

Getty Video

Still, what’s interesting to many collectors and historians is that the artifact was present at the time of the photo.


Louis Daguerre, Paris Boulevard, 1839, Daguerreotype

 An early example of a “daguerreotype.” Paris Boulevard is a significant step in the development of photography. Taken in 1839 by Louis-Jacques Mande Daguerre, the photograph depicts a seemingly empty street in Paris. The elevated viewpoint emphasizes the wide avenues, tree-lined sidewalks, and charming buildings of the French capital. However, the obvious day light of the photograph begs the question – where are all the people in this normally busy city?

Enhanced version of Joseph Nicephore Niépce, View from the Window at Gras, 1826 or 1827

The answer to this question lies in the daguerreotype technique. The first photographs, such as Joseph Nicephore Niépce’s famous View from the Window at Gras, took about 8 hours to expose, creating indistinct, grainy images. Daguerre was intrigued by these experiments and formed a partnership with Niépce from 1828 until the latter’s death in 1833. Daguerre continued to refine the photographic method until he developed his new process.

His technique consisted of exposing a copper plate coated in silver and sensitized with iodine to light in a camera, and then developed it in darkness by holding it over a pan of heated vaporizing mercury. He also developed a method of creating a permanent image by using a solution of ordinary table salt. Daguerre’s technique significantly reduced exposure time and created a lasting result that would not dim with further exposure to light, but only produced a single image. It would be up to others to produce the negatives that allowed for the production of multiple copies of an image.


Louis Daguerre, detail Paris Boulevard, 1839, Daguerreotype

A Shoe Shine

Daguerre’s Paris Boulevard shows the advantages of the new technique. There is far more detail than in earlier photographs. We can clearly see the panes in the windows and the sharp corners of the building in the front of the image. The objects are no longer blurry masses of light and dark, but defined and separate structures. In fact, the only thing missing are the people, except for the small figure of a man having his shoes shined at a sidewalk stand.

The remaining problem of the daguerreotype, at least by modern standards, was the long exposure time, between 10 and 15 minutes. This meant that the people hurrying along those spacious sidewalks did not register on the photograph. The man having his shoes shined, possibly the first photographic image of a person, obviously stayed still long enough to register on the image. The haunting empty, yet evocative, image of Paris Boulevard shows both how far photography had come in a short time and how much farther the technology still had to advance.

Thomas Easterly video


Photography for Social Change ASSIGNMENT

“There is work that profits children, and there is work that brings profit only to employers. The object of employing children is not to train them, but to get high profits from their work.”  Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874 – November 3, 1940)

“Newsies at Skeeter Branch, St. Louis, Missouri, 11:00 am, May 9, 1910.”
Lewis W. Hine (American, 1874–1940)

Lewis Hine was a social justice activist. He believed that a picture could tell a powerful story. He felt so strongly about the abuse of children as workers that he quit his teaching job and became an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Hine traveled around the country photographing the working conditions of children in all types of industries. He photographed children in coal mines, in meatpacking houses, in textile mills, and in canneries. He took pictures of children working in the streets as shoe shiners, newsboys, and hawkers. In many instances he tricked his way into factories to take the pictures that factory managers did not want the public to see. He was careful to document every photograph with precise facts and figures. To obtain captions for his pictures, he interviewed the children on some pretext and then scribbled his notes with his hand hidden inside his pocket.

Hine believed that if people could see for themselves the abuses and injustice of child labor, they would demand laws to end those evils.

ASSIGNMENT: Propose a one year project to document with words and images that would effect social change in our world. Think big!

Write your proposal in 250 words or less, assuming you’ll be competing against other applicants for this opportunity.

Post it here in Canvas.


NEXT ASSIGNMENT: Composition in Photography


“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange

You should strive to compose images that get attention and deliver your message. In general, good pictures result from careful attention to some basic elements of composition, together with appropriate lighting and an interesting subject.

There is, however, no “right” way to take a picture. Three photographers recording the same scene may create equally appealing photographs with entirely different compositions. By understanding the basic rules of composition, you can incorporate them into the way you ‘see’ with your camera.

COMPOSITION in the visual arts is: the arrangement of elements and their relationship to the background of an image.

Click here for the PDF of this assignment.


Three (minimum) mounted 8×10” NEW photographs that each adhere to at least three of the Rules of Composition. At the critique, you will be asked to explain which ones you used (or abused!).

Here are some guidelines:

  1. If you want to break any of these rules, go ahead. Just be prepared to explain how and why at the critique.
  2. Every element in a photograph should be present, and where it is, for a reason.
  3. Remember that the viewer’s eye is attracted to the largest, brightest, most favorably placed visual element in a photograph.
  4. Use any or all elements to unify the picture.

Remember, while a novice can achieve quality images with these guidelines, artists who really know them often find creative ways to break them with excellent results.

Assignment due date:  Thursday Nov 9


More on F-Stops and Shutter Speeds

First – The All Important ISO Number

The ISO number is a measure of light sensitivity. It originally referred to the sensitivity of a given type of film, and the standards for measuring were determined by the International Standards Organization (ISO), which is where the name comes from. In a film camera, you had to change film to change ISO. Digital cameras allow you to change ISO through the camera’s menu functions, adjusting the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to an ISO equivalent number.

So how does ISO work? While it measures light sensitivity, photographers refer to ISO as the “speed” of the film or sensor. At high sensitivity, more light is sensed within a given period of time than at low sensitivity, so high sensitivity is considered faster.

Unlike aperture, ISO settings are relatively straightforward. Low ISO numbers indicate the least amount of light sensitivity, while high ISO numbers are faster, more sensitive settings.

Why not always use the highest ISO possible all the time? In film cameras, high ISO film is grainy. We didn’t escape that limitation with digital cameras, but instead of grain, high ISO numbers introduce digital noise. One of the most important things a photographer can learn is how to get the best quality shot in a given lighting condition with the lowest possible ISO setting. Of course, sporting events and other fast moving action requires high, fast ISO numbers. Fortunately, those situations are often brightly lit.posterRepro-01

Tips for How to Set the F-Stop

You can use your camera’s manual (M) or aperture priority (Av, or aperture value) mode to take full control of your camera’s aperture. In addition to controlling how much light enters the camera, changing the size of the aperture also changes image depth.

As you tweak your camera’s aperture (f-stop), you’re altering the len’s depth of fieldDepth of field is another photography concept that’s easy to cloud with complicated mathematics and esoteric language, but, basically, it refers to how much of a scene is in focus. When subjects both near and far are relatively crisp and sharp, many photographers say a scene has deep depth of field. Shallow depth of field indicates that only part of a scene is in sharp focus.

f16 or f2?

f16 or f2?

f16 or f2?

f16 or f2?

Lenses capable of very wide apertures, such as f/1.2 or f1.4, are best for creating extremely shallow depth of field. To accentuate this effect, it helps to be close to your subject.

Shallow depth of field is a powerful tool for making great pictures by drawing attention to specific aspects of a picture. For example, if you compose a portrait in which the subject’s eyes are the only facial feature in focus, you’re isolating the eyes and making them stand out in an arresting way that your viewers can’t miss.

The reverse is true if you want deep depth of field. Many landscape photographers use high f-stops in the range of f/16 or f/22, which helps keep objects in both the foreground and background in focus.

The fastest way to understand how to make f-stops work for you is to experiment. Pick one subject and shoot it using different f-stop settings. Review the images to see how sharpness and brightness change from image to image. Regardless of the kinds of subjects you choose to photograph, understanding f-stops, aperture and depth of field can help you make a mundane scene totally marvelous. Citation: Chandler, Nathan.  “How to Know What F-Stop to Use”  07 December 2010.

Fast and Slow Shutter Speeds in Photography

hedge creek falls, by Alaskan DudeIf you’re looking to shoot crisp, clear photos, you’ll usually want to use the fastest shutter speed possible. The primary limitation of shutter speed is available light. Since a fast shutter doesn’t let as much light through, it can lead to overly dark photos if lighting conditions are dim to begin with.

You can compensate by opening up the aperture (the opening that allows light into the camera) and using a higher ISO setting (measuring the film’s sensitivity to light), but these changes also have their own tradeoffs.

If you’re trying to capture fast-moving action, like a sporting event or a playful pet, fast shutter speed is vital.

hedge-creek-falls If you’re shooting a stationary subject in low light conditions, you can use a slower shutter speed. This can allow you to capture a scene with shadows and subtle lighting that might be lost if you used a flash.

If your shutter speed is anything slower than 1/60, it will be almost impossible to hold the camera still and avoid a blurry photo.

HedgeCreekFalls007 If you’re looking to shoot some special effects, shutter speed can help you out. Slow down your shutter just a little, and those crisp action shots show dynamic movement as some things become slightly blurred.

Slow it down a little more, but this time pan the camera along with the movement of one object. Now that object will be crisp while the background shows as a blur.

A photo of a waterfall with a slow shutter, using a tripod, will show a luminous sheet of water instead of clear individual splashes.

Some photographers specialize in light painting, in which the subject moves a brightly colored object through a dimly lit scene, “painting” blurs of light in various parts of the image.

lightPaint (8 of 9)As in all things in photography, the key to finding the right shutter speed for your situation is experience, and you gain experience through experimentation. Try different shutter speed/aperture/ISO combinations until you find one that works, and play around with special effects to see what happens.

Citation: Fenlon, Wesley. “5 Tips for Slow Shutter Speed Photography” 14 February 2012.

Try light painting!