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Local Photographers

Early Photography in the Derwent Valley


In 1839 the Royal Acadamy announced the discovery of a method of obtaining paper images by the action of light on objects and from then on photographic technology developed rapidly. WH Fox Talbot having 1833 started his research, patented in 1843 a calotype process the world’s first negative/positive technique for obtaining copies of photographic images using materials sensitised with silver iodide, then in 1842 published explanation of photographic techniques.  The following year this techique had spread north to Edinburgh where Hill and Adamson began to use calotypes for photography. Improvements of this calotype process quickly occurred throughout Europe most notably with the wet plate process and daguerrotypes which excited the public in the Great Exhibition of 1851. Photograps became a feature of the Crimean War of 1857-60 and the American Civil War of 1862. 

In 1871 Dry Photographic Plates were invented and within a decade were mass produced and factory packed for distribution across the country to a growing fraternity of photographers. By 1886 techniques had been developed for combining text and photos in engravings which meant that by 1890 photographs started to supplant hand drawn illustrations in popular publications. Photographic equipment made vast strides the flash bulm being developed in 1893 and the cinema projector in 1899. Annual photographic conventions attracted huge numbers of photographers all keen to learn about new developments like this one in held in Newcastle in 1900. 


This photo show some well known local photographers Edgar Lee and Fred Park. Lee became famous for his informal Newcastle street scenes and the interior shot below illustrates how photographers developed their photographs at the turn of the century. Another photographer at the convention was Fred Park whose name would appear on some of the local field cameras in use throughout the NE. Missing though is the Mathew Auty, probably the greatest Tyneside photographer who had died 5 years previously. The Auty series of photographs however grew in stature when Hastings a printing firm bought up his collection of negatives and mass produced his images in the form of picture postcards to provide comprehensive coverage of North East scenes in Victorian times.


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