What are advances in lighting technology?
There is no doubt that one of the most significant advances in studio photography was lighting, but the story of studio photography started long enough before the lighting of studio photography was available.
The first studio lighting borrowed from the lighting techniques used by painters, and that is where the term "art photograph" originated.
During these early days of studio photography, photographers used an open window for the main illumination source.
Most painters' workshops used a large window or a light well facing north to illuminate their subjects.
This has been intentionally designed to benefit from the most indirect and diffuse source of natural light.
In this way, the light does not directly strike the subject, effectively reducing the light and giving it a smoother appearance.
Many of the best studio photographers still use this daylight technology today.
Studio photographers began using artificial light to photograph in 1840 and experienced many different techniques in an attempt to deal with the challenges of proper illumination of subjects in the studio.
However, many of these early technologies were highly expensive and unsafe.
Flash powders were one of the first methods of producing artificial illumination producing adequate luminosity.
Another of the first types of flash was commonly known as a "hot light" and resisted the very real risk of exploding!
In the 1860s, lights were more effective and more secure for studio photography.
About 100 years later, in the 1970s, stroboscopes, or "flashes", had become commonplace.
The first time that is generally considered as "flash" photography was in the early 1800s when projectors were used to photograph microscopic subjects.
This type of flash photography was probably inspired by the theatre, which used projectors to light stage productions.
A flash was generated by the addition of pieces of lime to a flame powered by oxygen and hydrogen.
However, this technique has not produced very good results in photography, with highly illuminated images and overexposed skin tones.
Flash powder was invented in 1887, the primary ingredient being magnesium, which produced brilliant white light.
The latter, the magnesium wire has replaced the powder and, when used with a reflector, has created a perfect artificial studio lighting source.
However, like projectors, magnesium had its own challenges.
Magnesium can be somewhat erratic and out of control.
Sometimes the wire does not ignite and the speed of ignition changes, making it difficult to forecast exposure times.
The burning magnesium thread has also produced gray smoke and harmful vapours, which makes it very problematic for studio photography.
In 1887, Johannes Gaedicke and Adolf Miethe began mixing magnesium powder and potassium chlorate into a new type of instant powder.
Being able to create a luminous flash of instant light meant that studio photographers could now take photos under very dark conditions.