British photographic history

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In the Darkroom: Photographic Processes Before the Digital Age

For those BPH-bloggers interested in the technological developments in photographic processes from the origins of the medium until the advent of digital photography, there is an interesting book just published in Jan 2010. Written by Sarah Kennel with Diane Waggoner and Alice Carver-Kubik, the book is a compilation of essential information about the predominant negative, positive, and photomechanical processes in use since 1839.


It offers concise technical descriptions of the processes and their common uses, and is illustrated with museum-quality illustrations (some at high magnification to show print characteristics) and diagrams indicating the basic structure of each negative or print process.

The guidebook is organized alphabetically for convenient reference and includes a time line with the major dates of use for each process over the past 170 years, an extensive glossary, and an index of variant names. The 104-page softcover book features 57 color illustrations and 27 diagrams, and is available through Amazon.co.uk (ISBN-10: 0500288704).

More importantly, an exhibition (of the same name) to complement this book is currently being held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC until 14th March 2010 - you still have time to fly there ! Refer to the 'Events' section for a very interesting overview of the exhibition and an independent review.
Click for a podcast interview with curator Sarah Kennel.

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Comment by Michael Wong on March 18, 2010 at 11:31
Thanks, Andrew. Always good to have a first-hand account from someone who has attended the exhibition. Guess it has achieved some of the curator's aims, i.e., it got you interested in the topic !
Comment by Andrew J. Currie on March 15, 2010 at 3:25
I attended this show in Washington with some friends a little while back. The original photos shown in the book are the ones in the show. The book is good but it's broad rather than in-depth; but it got me very interested in historical processes and "primitive" photography.

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