Centro de la Fotografía y la Imagen Histórica de Guadalajara

Antecedents and the first photograph process

Photography soon replaced the half-mechanic processes like the portrait with physionotrace (which can nevertheless be considered its ideological precursor) or the artistic technique like the pictorial miniature. It was invented by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in the third decade of 19th century. Afterwards, in the 30’s, important modifications were introduced by another Frenchman, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, when a practical procedure was available (the daguerreotype) to reproduce the reality thanks to the action of light in a photosensitive surface.

A daguerreotype is a positive directly over a copper plate covered with silver and sensitized with iodine vapour that at the beginning needed an exposure time close to sixty minutes.

In the 40’s, daguerreotyping played a main role along with the calotype or talbotype (called like this because its inventor name, the Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot), a method that produces a negative in a paper sensitized with silver nitrate and gallic acid from which positives over paper are obtained. The nature of this method that allows the image multiplication turns it into the first modern photograph process.

In the 1850’s and 1860’s there appeared preparations of wet collodion, ambrotypes on glass bases, ferrotypes on tin plates, panotypes on cloth oilcloth and other weaves and albuminized positives derived from glass plate negatives.

The dry gelatin-bromide plate (glass plate covered with a bromide, water and gelatin solution) opened the way to instant photography. Created in 1870’s its use became general in 1880’s when began industrial manufacturing of gelatine-bromide papers to obtain the positives. Moreover, this is the process that holds the hegemony until today.

The museum has original pieces that illustrate the majority of the described processes.