Photography has been
around for a long period of time, and despite the many different early
photographic processes, perhaps 3 main ones stood out: Daguerreotype,
Ambrotype, and Tintypes. In particular, ambrotype
is one of the many early photographic processes used to develop and “print”
photographs. The ambrotype process is documented to have been created by James
Anson Cutting in 1854 however, it is stated that the process was actually first
used by Frederick Scott Archer 3 years prior to Cutting, to create some of the earliest
portraits of this method. Before ambrotype, another process known as daguerreotype
was very popular. Ambrotype had easily overtaken
daguerreotype in demand and usage as soon as it came out mainly because it was easier
to view and not as expensive to produce. The main reason for this was because
unlike daguerreotype, ambrotype did not have a surface that is mirror-like or
shiny which made viewers have to tilt the photo to a certain angle to be able
to see the image. Ambrotype was also cheaper to produce and required a shorter
exposure time in order to capture an image. Ambrotype are basically positive
photographs that has been exposed onto glass. Nevertheless, it must be noted
that the glass itself when the image is produced is actually negative. However,
as it is often placed against a dark background, the image appears positive. To
put it simply, ambrotype was a glass plate that was covered with collodion that
contained iodide, and then put into a silver nitrate solution, making it so
that the glass is sensitive to light and able to be exposed to produce an
image; the glass must still be wet in order to work. To develop the image, the
glass must be developed in a solution that contains “nitric acid and iron sulphate”
and then bathed in either sodium thiosulphate or potassium cyanide. The glass
will then be dried. With that, a negative image is actually produced or printed.
Even after drying, oftentimes a transparent varnish will be used over the image.
As the last step of printing, a dark background is then placed with the glass
to create a positive image. In fact, the dark background sometimes create a
certain depth within the image.