Friday, February 10, 2006

Unfrozen in time

The daguerreotype is back
This has been a bleak year for conventional photography. On January 12th, Nikon announced that it would no longer make most film cameras. A week later, Konica Minolta said it was quitting the camera business. These developments follow last year's bankruptcy filing by AgfaPhoto and Kodak's decision to stop making black and white paper.

Digital is clearly king, and the silver-gelatin process that dominated photography for more than a century is in its death throes. Such evolution is natural; the daguerreotype, the tintype, the salted-paper prints that peaked during the 19th century all melted away, as better or cheaper forms arose. But photographic progress has not pleased everyone—and some artists are reviving the antique tools of their trade. Long exposures and cumbersome equipment are back. The movement's leading lights include, for example, Mark Osterman and France Scully Osterman, whose Rochester studio specialises in collodion, a process that was abandoned in the 1880s and involves a syrupy liquid poured on to a glass plate.


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