History of photo printing
It’s amazing that photo printing – something that used to involve a lot of time and effort – can now be referred to as “photo printing.” Just a few short years ago, getting a photo print meant going through a wide variety of steps, not the least of which involved buying film, taking it to the processor, getting back a bunch of prints you really didn’t want, etc.
In fact, it has gone beyond simple convenience. photo printing is partly responsible for a worldwide surge in creativity. People who never thought of themselves as creative are now taking digital pictures, uploading them to the web and then outputting their work with photo printing.
This is all thanks to the technological innovations in the digital age. Just a few years ago, we were all still fumbling with loading film in camera. (Ever load it backwards? Or forget to load it completely? Don’t be ashamed, most of us did both at one time or another.) No matter who you are or where you live, it’s hard to escape the digital photographic boom that’s happening online.
photo printing – not so easy in 1839
Think back to the very old days of photography – it began in 1839 and was isolated to people who understood how chemicals interacted. It took most of a day and a lot of preparation to get just a couple of photos – so much for photo printing.
The type of “photo printing” process they used in 1839 is still very similar to what is used today. It’s basically a five-step process that requires a darkroom, multiple trays filled with chemicals, some a bit dangerous, expensive equipment, and a lot of time.
Now there is a place for this type of photo printing – for people who really enjoy the process, artists who want to get a certain effect, hobbyists, etc. People still have film cameras, darkrooms, light sensitive paper, and lots of fun exploring this fascinating art form. It truly has its rewards. However, in this day and age, it is not photo printing.
Innovation brings photo printing to the masses
Photography started to really change in about 1900, with the introduction of simple cameras that were really just black boxes with a lens and film. The advent of these cameras was the first revolution in photo printing and photography – at last this highly expressive art form was open to the masses.
photo printing was within reach to anyone who could afford to buy the camera and process the film. Since the cameras only cost about $ 1 – a lot in those days but still affordable – many people who had never taken a picture before in their life were snapping pictures like crazy.
The next innovation in photo printing didn’t happen until the 1940s with the advent of the “land camera.” At first glance, this camera looked simple – but what it could do revolutionized the way we defined photo printing.
These land cameras could produce a picture on the spot. You simply took the picture and waited for the print to come out of the camera. When it did, you just had to let it sit for a minute or two, and voila, you had photo printing, right then and there!
There were drawbacks, however. The picture’s came in a small size, and if you touched the print too soon, it smudged. The camera was really just a way to get fast, photo printing into the marketplace.
Internet revolutionizes photo printing
Not much changed until the Internet boom of the 1990s, but even then, digital photography was just a few years behind Internet technology. But when the camera technology caught up, the combination of digital photography and the world wide web was unstoppable. In the early 2000s, more and more websites offering photo printing services cropped up.
Now, you can simply go online, upload your photos to a photo sharing website, and then have your photos printed and delivered directly to your door. And the quality is amazing – probably better than what a standard film processor could have ever offered in the old days.
Of course, since the technology folks are constantly looking for ways to innovate and make our lives easier, it’s a sure bet that even more methods for photo printing will appear in the near future.
Image by Lenny K Photography
Not sure why I’m posting this photo but I guess I just wanted to demonstrate the effects of ‘compression’. For this photo taken at the South Bank Parklands Brisbane, I used an 85mm f/1.8 lens to squeeze the arches together much like how a photographer would stack layers of mountains together. This gives the photo more of a compressed feel as opposed to using a wide angle lens to stretch the perspective out.
After getting back home, I then threw the photo into Lightroom and processed it in black and white. I used abit of split toning to change the traditional monotone look by adding a slight blue tinge to the shadows and a rustic brown tone to the highlights.
Photo is shared under CC and is free to download, use and play around with as always 🙂
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