Introduction to pre-digital photographic processes

In less than 10 years, photography will be celebrating its 200th birthday. The pace of change has slowed from its first days where innovations were groundbreaking and followed on quickly from each other; in today's world change slower and more incremental. Until 1975, photographic processes were analogue (as opposed to digital) and covered a wide spectrum of options from exposing paper to using plates and film. The art of photography was as much about understanding the peculiarities of the medium - for example the greater temperature sensitivity of platinum/palladium chemicals over silver gelatin ones. A great analogue photographer needs to be an artist and a craftsman. They need to know how to create the right compositions but they also need to know how to work with light sources, papers and chemicals in various manual processes.

The diagram below shows edited highlights of the evolution of analogue photography. In future posts we'll delve into these in more detail, explaining how these processes work, what to look for in these prints and how to take care of them.