Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Genius of Photography - DVD Episode 1 - Review

The Genius of Photography - Fixing The Shadows

I have been unable to get a copy of The Genius of Photography by Gerry Badger in book form so decided to watch the DVD instead. The DVD is split into 6 episodes with the first episode - Fixing The Shadows -  looking at the distant history of photography and its development into the popular form it is today. 

The DVD opens with a view of a Paris street present day and compares this with an image called "Meudon" taken in 1928 by the photographer Andre Kertesz of the same scene. The image can be seen here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/photography/genius/gallery/kertesz.shtml
It is remarkable how little has changed during this time. Obviously there are no longer steam trains and peoples clothes have changed but the houses, street and railway viaduct are all the same. What is remarkable is the timing of the picture. The stream train crossing the rails overhead, the man in the foreground carrying a parcel, all coming together at the right moment and eluding to the reason why some photographs show true genius.

The DVD then continues with a look further back in time to the 1830's when both Henry Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre were attempting to create a process for fixing an image. Henry Fox Talbot created the first shoe box sized camera using silver nitrate paper negatives. He called this camera "mousetrap".  Louis Daguerre's process fixed an image on a mirror plate producing a single image only. This is one of the reasons that Fox Talbot's process became more popular. Examples of both type of image were shown on the DVD which really helped me understand their place in the history of photography.

The narrative continues with the experimental images and the study of movement by Eadweard Muybridge. http://www.eadweardmuybridge.co.uk/ 
Then the introduction of commercialism in photography by the production of Carte de Viste which became a global phenonemum.

There were a couple of photographers mentioned in the DVD which, although I have seen their names mentioned in previous books for this course, I am not overly familiar with and will look into further e.g Felix Nadar a french photographer who is described in the DVD as the "Andy Warhol of bohemium Paris".

The development of the Brownie camera by George Eastman's Kodak Co. revolutionised photography by bringing it to the masses. The Brownie sold for $1 and was originally intended for children. The first prints by Kodak cameras were circular which is one of the hundreds of little snippets of information that I picked up whilst watching the programme. 

As an introduction to the history of photography this first episode covers a lot of ground and provides plenty of information and I would recommend it to fellow students on this course particularly if they are new to studying photography.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for doing a review on this. it looks well worth getting.

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