Ethnographic Photography in Scotland

1

Early History of
Photography

Page 1

Further Notes

2

Types of Camera and  Photo

Page 2

Further Notes

3

Photographic
Societies

Page 3

Further Notes

4

Professional
Photographers

Page 4

Further Notes

5

Collections of Photos and Books

Page 5

Further Notes

Other talks:    Ethnographic Postcards in Scotland

Other talks:    History of Photography

 

Edinburgh University, School of Literature, Language and Cultures, Celtic and Scottish Studies

2nd Year Lecture:  February 22, 2010  -  Ethnographic Photography

 

Ethnographic Photography  -  Page 1  -  Further Notes

 

Ethnographic Photography in Scotland

Early History

of Photography

From 1839

 

Further Notes

Photography Announced

  • 1839 is generally regarded as the beginning of photography.

  • Earlier experiments  -  pictures faded.

  • 7 Jan 1839: Daguerre (France) announced his success.

  • Talbot (England) immediately announced his results.

  • 25 Jan 1839: Talbot displayed his work at the Royal Institution in London.

  • 31 Jan 1839:  Talbot read a Paper 'Some Accounts of Photogenic Drawing' to the Royal Society in London. 

  • In fact Daguerre's and Talbot's discoveries were quite different.

  • Daguerre:  a single delicate image with fine detail, on metal.

  • Talbot:  an image on paper, with more texture and less detail.

  • Talbot's Calotype method could produce multiple images from a single negative.

The Latticed Window (Talbot)

A print from the oldest photographic negative in existence

Print made from the oldest negative in existence  -  The Latticed Window at Lacock Abbey, photographed by Talbot in 1835

  Reproduced from the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television collection,
by courtesy of the Science and Society Picture Library.

  • Both Daguerre and Talbot had connections with Edinburgh.

  • Daguerre painted stage scenes.  Here is one of Holyrood Palace:

  • Did he ever come to Edinburgh?

Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh (Daguerre)

An oil painting

Holyrood Chapel  -  Painting by Daguerre

  Reproduced by courtesy of The Board of Trustees of the National Museums & Galleries
on Merseyside (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) 

  • Talbot visited Edinburgh in the early 1840s to take photographs for 'Sun Pictures of Scotland', a book published in 1845.

  • Talbot lived in Edinburgh for 10 years from 1855.  He was elected one of six prominent photographers elected to be Honorary Members of Edinburgh Photographic Society in 1862.  Did he attend any of the society's meetings?

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Reaction in Edinburgh

to the announcement of Photography in 1839

  • Edinburgh was well placed to react to the discovery of photography. 

  • Societies in Edinburgh were keen to discuss and follow up new discoveries.  Edinburgh University had a long-established Chemistry Dept, so there were people around with a good understanding of chemistry who were keen to learn about photography and experiment with photography.

  • On 27 March and 10 April 1839, Andrew Fyfe, Vice President of the Society of Arts for Scotland, gave lectures on photography to the Royal Scottish Society of Arts in Edinburgh.

Dr Fyfe's lectures were not merely reports of the Talbot's invention.  They were Dr Fyfe's accounts of how he had attempted to improve upon the process announced by Talbot, together with a display of some of his results.

  • Early in 1839, Sir John Robinson, Secretary to The Royal Society of Edinburgh, visited Daguerre in Paris.  On his return to Edinburgh he gave a lecture to The Royal Society of Edinburgh on 29 May 1839, in which he spoke enthusiastically about the Daguerreotype: 

    "The discovery is one of the most splendid and important which has ever graced the progress of the fine arts."

  • There were Exhibitions of photography in Edinburgh in 1839.

  • On 15 October 1839, James Howie placed an announcement in The Scotsman:

     

    Exhibition Advertisement

    Mr Howie, artist, 64 Princes Street, begs leave respectfully to inform the Nobility, Gentry and Public, that he has succeeded in producing some beautiful specimens in the above 

    NEW ART on SILVER, 

    the first public exhibition of its kind in Scotland

  • Two months later, an Exhibition of Arts, Manufacturers and Practical Science was held at  Assembly Halls, George Street, from 24 Dec 1839 until 7 Jan 1840.

Twenty photographs (or photogenic drawings) by Talbot were exhibited, together with a Photogenic Camera made by Mr Davidson, who would soon be making cameras for Robert Adamson.

Photographs by Daguerre were also exhibited this month in Edinburgh, possibly at the same exhibition.

The Exhibition attracted over 50,000 visitors.

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Reaction in St Andrews

to the announcement of Photography in 1839

 

Sir David Brewster

Sir David Brewster  -  a calotype by Hill & Adamson

  Reproduced by courtesy of Edinburgh City Libraries and Information Services

  • Sir David Brewster, Principal of the united colleges of St Salvator and St Leonard at St Andrews University, inventor of the kaleidoscope had been in correspondence with Talbot, and learnt of his Calotype process.

  • Brewster gathered a number of early photographers around him in St Andrews.  There were:

  • Sir David Brewster (1781-1868)

  • Dr John Adamson (1810-1870)

  • Robert Adamson (1821-1848)

  • Thomas Rodger Sen. (1809-1876)

  • Thomas Rodger Jun. (1832-1883)

  • Ivan Szabo (1822-1858)

  • It was Sir David Brewster who introduced Robert Adamson from St Andrews to David Octavius Hill in Edinburgh.  The 'Hill & Adamson' partnership went on to create several thousand calotypes - but that's the subject of a different lecture.

    David Octavius Hill

    Secretary of Scottish Academy / RSA, 1829-69

    DO Hilll at the gate to Rock House  -  a calotype by Hill & Adamson

      Reproduced by courtesy of Edinburgh City Libraries and Information Services

George Washington Wilson

in Edinburgh

  • The next three views are all taken from the balcony of Cranstoun's Temperance Hotel in Princes Street.  The first two were from a series that he took attempting to capture 'instantaneous photos'.  i.e. with exposures short enough to capture the passers by without showing their movement.:

Princes Street - c.1859

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Jenny and Ray Norman

 Web site: World of Stereoviews

Princes Street - c.1860

Photogrraph of Waverley at the East End of Princes Street  -  by George Washington Wilson

  Reproduced by courtesy of the Yerbury family.   Click here for link to web site.

Lantern Slide  -  Edinburgh Old Town and Waverley Bridge

George Washington Wilson  -  Lantern Slide  -  Edinburgh Old Town and Waverley Bridge

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Alastair Griffiths, Middlewich, Cheshire, England

 

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End of Page 1

 

Ethnographic Photography in Scotland

1

Early History of
Photography

Page 1

Further Notes

2

Types of Camera and  Photo

Page 2

Further Notes

3

Photographic
Societies

Page 3

Further Notes

4

Professional
Photographers

Page 4

Further Notes

5

Collections of Photos and Books

Page 5

Further Notes

Other talks:    Ethnographic Postcards in Scotland

Other talks:    History of Photography

 

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