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Please note: RPS House is closed for our exhibition install. We will be open again from 10am on Friday 9th August 2024.

Beekinpully Permauls Swing At Mariammah Covil
CREDIT: Linnaeus Tripe, Patrons' Permanent Fund, National Gallery of Art Washington DC

An Artist in Photography

Pulling some thoughts together

Every so often I find it useful to pull together a set of recent thoughts and see where it leads me. Today was one of those days. I look at the work of others and ask myself "what was the content that attracted my attention? How will this influence my work?"

It started with a series of 19th Century albumen prints I had studying as the prints were made with different levels of artistic intent.  Sojourner Truth sold her image as prints to raise money for her abolitionist and women's rights causes - there was no artistic intent. Dunmore & Critcherson produced a body of work for a painter to use as reference material for maritime paintings - art by proxy. And finally Gustave Le Gray, primarily an artist, mixing the art of composition with the  emerging science of photography.

Albumen prints were hard work compared to contemporary analogue photography. Like contemporary analogue they first exposed a negative, either on paper or collodion on glass plates. The latter is a subject of interest to me and I plan to take part in an RPS event "Don't Press Print - the collodion process: online conference". On past gallery visits I had been comparing the image quality of the 2 methods. The haziness and reduced sharpness from the paper negatives came back to me when taking images through double glazing.

When used for landscape photography these early processes struggled to capture sky detail. Gustave Le Gray used multiple exposures to do this, a real feat with that technology. But I remembered seeing another approach to this at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. If you were an artist why not just paint them in? Linnaeus Tripe was appointed "Artist in Photography" on an official expedition to visit the King of Burma and did just that. I found his title as fascinating as the print.