segunda-feira, 29 de março de 2010



10 de Junho





Vol. IV

from 1837 


 1843 inclusive



Pag. 312, 313, 314, 315, 316


Proceedings of the royal society

nº. 48

5. « An account of some recent improvements in Photography. » By H. F. Talbot, Esq. F. R. S.

The author had originally intended, in giving an account of his recent experiments in photography, to have entered into numerous details with respect to the phenomena observed; but finding that to follow out this plan would occupy a considerable time, he has tought that it would be best to put the Society, in the first place, in possession of the principal facts, and by so doing perhaps invite new observers into the field during the present favourable season for making experiments. He has, therefore, confined himself at present to a description of the improved photographic method, to wich he has given the name of Calotype, and reserves for another occasion all remarks on the theory of the process.

The following is the method of obtaining the Calotype pictures.

Preparation of the paper. – Take a sheet of the best writing paper, having a smooth surface, and a close and even texture.

The watermark, if any, should be cut off, lest it should injure the appearance of the picture. Dissolve 100 grains of crystallized nitrate of silver in six ounces of distilled water. Wash the paper with this solution, with a soft brush, on one side, and put a mark on that side whereby to know it again. Dry the paper cautiously at a distant fire, or else let it dry spontaneously in a dark room. When dry, or nearly so, dip it into a solution of iodide of potassium containing 500 grains of that salt dissolved in one pint of water, and let it stay two or three minutes in this solution. Then dip it into a vessel of water, dry it lightly with blotting-paper, and finish drying it at a fire, wich will not injure it even if held pretty near: or else it may be left to dry spontaneously.

All this is best done in the evening by candlelight. The paper so far prepared the author calls iodized paper, because it has a uniform pale yellow coating of iodide of silver. It is scarcely sensitive to light, but, nevertheless, it ought to be kept in a portfolio or a drawer, until wantcd for use. It may be kept for any length of time without spoiling or undergoing any change, if protected from the light. This is the first part of the preparation of Calotype paper, and may be performed at any time. The rernaining part is best deferred until shortly before the paper is wanted for use. When that time is arrived, take a sheet of the iodized paper and wash it with a liquid prepared in the following manner: -

Dissolve 100 grains of crystallized nitrate of silver in two ounces  of distilled water; add to this solution one-sixth of its volume of strong acetic acid. Let this mixture be called A.

Make a saturated solution of crystallized gallic acid in cold distilled water. The quantity dissolved is very smal. Ca1 this solution B.

When a sheet of paper is wanted for use, mix together the liquids A and B in equal volumes, but only mix a small quantity of them at a time, because the mixture does not keep long without spoiling. I shall call this mixture the Gallo-nitrate of silver.

Then take a sheet of iodized paper and wash it over with this gallonitrate of silver, with a soft brush, taking care to wash it on the side which has been previously marked. This operation should be performed by candlelight. Let the paper rest half a minute, and then dip it into water. Then dry it lightly with blotting-paper, and finally dry it cautiously at a fire, holding it at a considerable distance therefrom. When dry, the paper is fit for use. The author has named the paper thus prepared Calotype paper, on account of its great utility in obtaining the pictures of objects with the camera obscura. If this paper be kept in a press it will often retain its qualities in perfection for three months or more, being ready for use at any moment; but this is not uniformly the case, and the author therefore recommends that it should be used in a few hours after it has been prepared. If it is used immediately, the last drying may be dispensed with, and the paper may be used moist. Instead of employing a solution of crystallized gallic acid for the liquid B, the tincture of galls diluted with water may be used, but he does not think the results are altogether so satisfactory.

Use of the Paper. - The Calotype paper is sensitive to light in an extraordinary degree, which transcends a hundred times or more that of any kind of photographic paper hitherto described. This may be made manifest by the following experiment: - Take a piece of this paper, and having covered half of it, expose the other half to daylight for the space of one second in dark cloudy weather in winter. This brief moment suffices to produce a strong impression upon the paper. But the impression is latent and invisible, and its existence would not be suspected by any one who was not forewarned of it by previous experiments.

The method of causing the impression to become visible is extremely simple. It consists in washing the paper once more with the gallo-nitrate of silver, prepared in the way before described, and then warming it gently before the fire. In a few seconds the part of the paper upon which the light has acted begins to darken, and finally grows entirely black, while the other part of the paper retains its whiteness. Even a weaker impression than this may be brought out by repeating the wash of gallo-nitrate of silver, and again warming the paper. On the other hand, a stronger impression does not require the warming of the paper, for a wash of the gallo-nitrate suffices to make it visible, without heat, in the course of a minute or two.

A very remarkable proof of the sensitiveness of the Calotype paper is afforded by the fact stated by the author, that it will take an impression from simple moonlight, not concentrated by a lens. If a leaf is laid upon a sheet of the paper, an image of it may be obained in this wav in from a quarter to half an hour.

This paper being possessed of so high a degree of sensitiveness is therefore well suited to receive images in the camera obscura. If the aperture of the object-lens is one inch, and the focal length fifteen inches, the author finds that one minute is amply sufficient in summer to impress a strong image upon the paper of any building

upon which the sun is shining. When the aperture amounts to one-third of the focal length, and the object is very white, as a plaster bust, &c., it appears to him that one second is sufficient to obtain a pretty good image of it.

The images thus received upon the Calotype paper are for the most part invisible impressions. They may be made visible by the process already related, namely, by washing them with the gallonitrate of silver, and then warming the paper. When the paper is quite blank, as is generally the case, it is a highly curious and beautiful phenomenon to see the spontaneous commencement of the picture, first tracing out the stronger outlines, and then gradually filling up all numerous and complicated details. The artist should watch the picture as it developes itself, and when in his judgment it has attained the greatest degree of strength and clearness, he should stop further progress by washing it with the fixing liquid.

The fixing process.-To fix the picture, it should be first washed with water, then lightly dried with blotting paper, and then washed with a solution of bromide of potassium, containing 100 grains of that salt dissolved in eight or ten ounces of water. After a minute or two it should be again dipped in water and then finally dried. The picture is in this manner very strongly fixed, and with this great advantage, that it remains transparent, and that, therefore, there is no difficulty in obtaining a copy from it. The Calotype picture is a negative one, in which the lights of nature are represented by shades; but the copies are positive, having the lights conformable to nature. They also represent the objects in their natural position with respect to right and left. The copies may be made upon Calotype paper in a very short time, the invibible impressions being brought out in the way already described: - But the author prefers to make the copies upon photographic paper prepared in the wny which he originally described in a memoir read to the Royal Society in February 1839, and which is made by washing the best writing paper, first with a weak solution of common salt, and next with a solution of nitrate of  siler. Although it takes a much longer time to obtain a copy upon this paper, yet when obtained, the tints appear more harmonious and pleasing to the eye; it requires in general from 3 minutes to 30 minutes of sunshine, according to circumstances, to obtain a good copy on this sort of photographic paper. The copy should be washed and dried, and the fixing process (which may be deferred to a subsequent day) is the same as that already mentioned. The copies are made by placing the picture upon the photographic paper, with a board below and a sheet of glass above, and pressing the papers into close contact by means of screws or otherwise.

After a Calotype picture has furnished several copies, it sometimes grows faint, and no more good copies can then be made from it. But these pictures possess the beautiful and extraordinary property of being susceptible of revival. In order to revive them and restore their original appearance, it is only necessary to wash them again by candlelight with gallo-nitrate of silver, and warm them: this causes all the shades of the picture to darken greatly, while the white parts remain unaffected. The shaded parts of the paper thus acquire an opacity which gives a renewed spirit and life to the copies, of which a second series may now be taken, extending often to a very considerable number. In reviving the picture it sometimes happens that various details make their appearance which had not before been seen, having been latent all the time, yet nevertheless not destroyed by their long exposure to sunshine.

The author terminates these observations by stating a few experiments calculated to render the mode of action of the sensitive paper more familiar.

1. Wash a piece of the iodized paper with the gallo-nitrate; expose it to daylight for a second or two, and then withdraw it. The paper will soon begin to darken spontaneously, and will grow quite black.

2. The same as before, but let the paper be warmed. The blackening will be more rapid in consequence of the warmth.

3. Put a large drop of the gallo-nitrate on one part of the paper and moisten another part of it more sparingly, then leave it exposed to a very faint daylight; it will be found that the lesser quantity produces the greater effect in darkening the paper; and in general, it will be seen that the most rapid darkening takes place at the moment when the paper becomes nearly dry, also, if only a portion of the paper is moistened, it will be observed that the edges or boundaries of the moistened part are more acted on by light than any other part of the surface.

4. If the paper, after being moistened with the gallo-nitrate, is washed with water and dried, a slight exposure to daylight no longer suffices to produce so much discoloration; indeed it often produces none at all. But by subsequently washing it again with the gallo-nitrate and warming it, the same degree of discoloration is developed as in the other case (experiments 1 and 2). The dry paper appears, therefore, to be equal, or superior in sensitiveness to the moist; only with this difference, that it receives a virtual instead of an actual impression from the light, which it requires a subsequent process to develope.

5. " New mode of preparation of the Daguerreotype plates, by which portraits can be taken in the short space of time of from five to fifteen seconds, according to the power of light, discovered by A. Claudet in the beginning of May 1841." Communicated by the Marquis of Northampton, Pres. R.S.

" My improvement," says the author, " consists in using for the preparation of the plates, a combination of chlorine with iodine, in the state of chloride of iodine. I follow the preparation recommended by Daguerre. After having put the plate in the iodine box for a short time, and before it has acquired any appearance of yellow colour, I take it out, and pass it for about two seconds over the opening of a bottle containing chloride of iodine; and immediately I put it again in the iodine box, where it acquires very soon the yellow colour, which shows that the plate is ready to be placed into the camera obscura. I have substituted to the chloride -of iodine, chloride of bromine; and have found nearly the same reault; but I prefer chloride of iodine as producing a better effect; and besides, on account of the noxious smell of bromine.

" The result of my preparation is such, that I have operated in ten seconds with the same apparatus, which, without any chlorine, required four or five minutes: when using only the original preparation of Daguerre, I have obtained un image of clouds in four seconds."

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