Pioneers of Photography

Historians may quibble at some of the detail of the three animations of early pioneers of photography produced by animator Drew Christie, for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which you can view on PDN Pulse but they have considerable charm, and I think provide a good introduction for those coming to Henry Fox Talbot, Eadweard Muybridge and Carleton Watkins for the first time.

I had some reservations about details when watching the first two short videos. The Talbot for example also mentions Daguerre but fails to mention Anne Atkins, who got in before Talbot with the first photographically illustrated book – and of course also fails to mention the many others who contributed to the development of photography on paper, and perhaps more surprisingly the Calotype process with its development of a latent image. It wasn’t just a further improvement on his earlier work, but a considerable leap. I had some quibbles too about the other local lad, Muybridge, but of less significance.

But I actually learnt a little about the life and various setbacks of Carleton Watkins, though not about his photographs which I was already familiar with. I have to admit to beinf rather more of a Timothy O’Sullivan fan – and the Library of Congress has over a thousand of his images on-line, many with seriously large files you can download.

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