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jeseymour
03-22-2014, 02:49 AM
Anybody know anything about the history of photography? It looks as if film came along around the 1880s, and my story is set in the 1890s. Any chance a newspaper photographer would exist in the 1890s? If so, would he be able to take a photo in the rain?

NeuroGlide
03-22-2014, 03:07 AM
Anybody know anything about the history of photography? It looks as if film came along around the 1880s, and my story is set in the 1890s. Any chance a newspaper photographer would exist in the 1890s? If so, would he be able to take a photo in the rain?

News photography was around in the American Civil War in the 1860s. http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/the-civil-war-the-birth-of-photojournalism/
(http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/the-civil-war-the-birth-of-photojournalism/)

cornflake
03-22-2014, 03:14 AM
Anybody know anything about the history of photography? It looks as if film came along around the 1880s, and my story is set in the 1890s. Any chance a newspaper photographer would exist in the 1890s? If so, would he be able to take a photo in the rain?

Of course; of course.

There being film has nothing much to do with it - photography predates film like you mean.

KellyAssauer
03-22-2014, 03:52 AM
According to wiki, in 1897, it became possible to reproduce halftone photographs on printing presses. So now you'll need to have a newspaper with a newish printing press that can reproduce halftone images, and you'll need a photographer with the correct camera.

Any photographer in the 1890's may have been able to take a photo in the rain if they were covered by a tarp, or some sort of enclosure because rain might ruin the (sometimes) wooden cameras and leather bellows.

If the subject of the photo was far away, then there may not have been a need for flash powder. (difficult under a tarp) But even then, the camera being used would have to have a shutter speed above 1/60th of a second to stop motion.

This might not be a problem since 'stop-motion' photography had been around since 1872 - depending, again, on how new and expensive the camera is being used to take the photos.

- that's as far as I got looking into both the history of the camera and the history of photojournalism. The 1863 photos of the civil war were not 'live action' because the camera couldn't do it. Everything was either staged, or from a great distance, or of the dead (who didn't move).

storiesinmyhead
03-22-2014, 08:51 AM
So before film came along, there was still photography. Photographers used metal plates to print pictures called daguerreotypes. Those of course, couldn't easily be duplicated. They still weren't easily duplicated even with film and I don't think done often in newspapers. Drawings were still used. Photojournalism really boomed in the 1930s. I doubt there would be someone hired just for newspaper photography. It was still a field that was growing and learning. A photo might be used if it was really good, but one taken in the rain probably wouldn't be for all the reasons Kelly said.

Trebor1415
03-22-2014, 11:20 AM
There really wasn't such a thing as a "newspaper photographer" in the 1890's. Photography existed, but newspaper reproduction didn't yet allow photos to be reproduced.

Check out this wiki page on the history of U.S. newspapers and they show some front pages from the 1890's. Note the engraved illustrations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_American_newspapers

Trebor1415
03-22-2014, 11:23 AM
News photography was around in the American Civil War in the 1860s. http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/the-civil-war-the-birth-of-photojournalism/
(http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/the-civil-war-the-birth-of-photojournalism/)


And, from that link (bold by me):

"Harper's Weekly (published 1857-1912) was the leading pictorial publication of its day, reproducing woodcut illustrations. As the Civil War progressed, line art illustrations based on photography from the battlefield helped make the paper one of the definitive documents of the war. (It would be at least another two decades before half-tone printing allowed for the direct reproduction of photographs in newspapers.)

Left: An illustration depicting Confederate forces bombarding Fort Sumter in South Carolina, launching four years of bloody civil war in America.

King Neptune
03-22-2014, 05:22 PM
Newspapers were printing woodcuts well before then, and the post about Harper's is accurate. Before the 1890's newspapers were using facsimile machines to send photos; they were low resolution, but they worked.

KellyAssauer
03-22-2014, 06:56 PM
First printed halftone in a newspaper: December 2, 1873 - The New Daily Graphic.
First 'full-tone' gray scale image: 4 March 1880 - The New Daily Graphic.
Although Frederic Ives introduced the first successful commercial use of the halftone process in 1881. It wasn't until 1888 when Ives perfected this process into the 'crossline halftone screen' which allowed 'mass production' of photos in newpapers and magazines.

Prior to these efforts, a photographer could still sell a photograph to a newspaper that had engravers on staff. The engravers would make an artistic rendering of the photo via a wood block carving.

So, we're all a little bit right. It would be at least two decades from the civil war before halftone photo reproductions were mass produced in newspapers. Oddly, that places the timeline in the late 1880's and the OP has asked if a photographer might be able to do this in 1890s. So, it's perfectly within the scope of factual evidence to suggest that a 'photographer' would exist in 1890s, but it might be a stretch to say that he was a paid newspaper photographer. (photojournalist)

Those who dabbled in early photography sought to sell their images to anyone that would pay for them. So, a specific yes or no answer isn't exactly available for the OP's original question! =)

snafu1056
03-22-2014, 11:00 PM
I've browsed enough old newspapers to know that photographs didnt become a common feature until the late 90s. Moreso in the early 20th century. Anything earlier than say 95 featured engravings or drawings exclusively. Artists got way more work than photogs back then.

However, some popular magazines did feature regular photos even before 95. The Illustrated American, for example. A magazine like that would be more likely to have a staff photographer (although many pics were submitted by readers). Photographs were also appearing pretty regularly in books by the 90s also. Photography was not a new or mysterious thing to the average person by 1890. Hell, the first motion pictures debuted in 93 (although it took a few more years to catch on).

http://www.photographica.nu/kodakord.htm

Kodaks were already popular and in wide use by the general public by the late 80s. Photography enthusiasts were called "camera cranks" (the word "crank" being the forerunner of the modern "geek"). A lot of magazines featured pictures submitted by amateurs.

As for taking photos in the rain, sure. Common kodaks were built to be useable anywhere, anytime. Their old slogan was "You push the button, we do the rest". Although since the viewfinder was on top of the camera youd probably have to shield it from the rain to look into it.

flapperphilosopher
03-23-2014, 06:39 AM
I'm actually doing a master's in the history of photography (more or less), and I have a professor who specializes in the early days of photography in the press. Halftone was definitely coming into use in the 1890s, as has been noted. Other methods of photomechnical reproduction were around too, though they were a bit more labour-intensive and costly, so used more often for books and/or magazines. A person could easily be a professional photographer at the time-- I'm not actually sure if newspapers had photographers on staff specifically yet or not but they certainly would commission photographers (who might have made a living elsewhere). Newspapers were hiring photographers from the early days of the medium (1840s), even when photographs couldn't be reproduced mechanically-- as noted, they had engravers on staff to interpret the photographs. This was a really common thing, so there may very well have been photographers who specialized in news even in the 19th century. I could probably track down resources that would give a definite answer-- let me know!

As snafu mentioned, Kodaks were around in the 1890s (they came out in 1888) and were a pretty fast, lightweight camera for the time-- however, fast for the time means to take an actual "snapshot" you would need direct sunlight. Otherwise you could make a timed exposure using tables (this was still true for cheap Kodaks in the 1920s-- I have a model myself). But a professional photographer in the 1890s would not be using a Kodak for his work. They were purely a toy. A professional (in any area of photography) would be using a view camera (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View_camera), a big bulky thing on a tripod. For professional work it is unlikely he would be using film-- probably he would be using glass negatives (heavy and large--they are the same size as the final print, so if you want an 8 x 10 print, you need and 8 x 10 sheet of sensitized glass). These were the norm in commercial photography into the 20th century. All this of course takes a while to set up and to move; the taking of photographs was a very different process than it is now.

He could definitely take pictures in the rain though-- he'd almost certainly need an umbrella to keep his stuff dry, and it would be a long-ish exposure, but sure. This photograph was taken in snow in 1893: http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/270042 .

I am happy to help with any more specific questions, just message me. If there is a certain outcome or scene you want, I can help you tailor what he does in photography to suit it, too, if it was possible at the time.

jeseymour
03-23-2014, 07:42 PM
Thanks folks. I might have to rethink the story, but this gives me some good info.