‘Ectoplasm: Photography in the Digital Age’

“…from today, painting is dead!”

This quote is from the book Over Exposed and refers to the quote given by Paul Delaroche, an enthusiastic French Painter who believed in the up and coming art of photography.

This is a key quote from the extract as 150 years later everyone is wanting to talk about how photography is causing it’s own death within the art world. Key quotes from the extract that show these thoughts are :

“…the very foundation and status of the [photographic] document is challenged”  – Tim Druckery

“… the profound undermining of photography’s status as an inherently truthful pictorial form”- Fred Ritchin

The text also shows the speculations from Ann Marie Willis who queries the “possible disappearance” of photography ” as a technology and as a medium- specific aesthetic”.

The text talks about how the “outburst of morbidity” stems from “two related anxieties”. The first anxiety is an ” effect of widespread introduction of computer driven processes that allow “fake” photos to be passed off as real ones“. The text refers to how viewers of the photography “will be unable to spot the “fake” from the “real” and that this will “discard their faith in the photography’s ability to deliver objective truth”.

The second anxiety that the text refers too is the “pervasive suspicion that we are entering a time when it will no longer be possible to tell any originals from their simulations.”  It discusses how soon “the whole world will consist of an undifferentiated “artificial nature” ”  and it mentions how photography will become nothing other than an “quaint anachronism”.




In today’s workshop we practiced experimenting in the dark room. A dark room is is a completely blacked out room which allows the processing of light sensitive photographic materials which in our case was photographic film and paper.


We used various equipment, chemicals and processes to produce our Photograms.

  • In most dark rooms you have the use of an enlarger. An enlarger is an optical apparatus that is similar to a slide projector. It projects the image of a negative onto a base ( in this case it was photographic paper) and ables you to finely control the focus, intensity and duration of the light.
  • The way that photographic paper works is that light from the enlarger is exposed onto the paper which then produces an image from the film negative that is used. The longer the photographic paper is exposed the darker it will become. For example if you expose the paper for 5 seconds the paper will more than likely become a grey colour; whereas if you expose it for 20 seconds the paper will become jet black. You can see how different exposures can effect photographic paper in different ways on my contact sheet which is posted at the bottom of the page. 

The Wet Process 

The photographic process, from using the light sensitive material to processing the final print, is based on a series of chemical reactions. The use of the chemicals require careful control as they can become very irritable if they come in touch with the skin or any kind of clothing.

For the image to become visible on light sensitive material it has to be developed, stopped, fixed and washed.

After being exposed the material is placed into a developed solution and the developer seeps into the exposed grains of the photographic paper, creating an image onto the paper.

After development the chemical reaction has to be stopped. This means placing the material into a stop solution which halts the chemical reaction. The material then has to be placed into a fixer, which fixes the image and keeps it from fading away or browning.

After the chemical reactions the material has to be left in cold water so to wash it thoroughly and remove it of any other chemicals that might still be on the image.

When creating Photograms you can use pretty much anything to create and image. To create my Photograms I placed a set of headphones on top of my photographic material, which when exposed created a shape onto my paper. It creates a shape as it blocks any light from reaching the paper and stops it from becoming exposed which means the place where my headphones were placed stays a vibrant white where the rest of the paper becomes black.

Contact Sheet

Contact Sheet – the longer the exposure the darker the paper. 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds.

An example of my Photogram

An example of my Photogram

‘The Pencil of Nature’

“The word photography means writing by light”

William Henry Fox Talbot’s ‘The Pencil of Nature‘ if often referred to and analysed as the first mass produced photographically illustrated book. It focuses on the roles within photography, including the use of light, nature and authorship, and discusses the role of photographs as a document.

‘The Pencil of Nature’ was published between 1844 and 1846 and was created to inform people new ways of processing photography. It contains chemical and optical information on how to photograph and how to print those photographs.

In the book Talbot argues that even though photography creates just a ‘picture’ it can create a ‘picture’ that awakens a “train of thoughts and feelings and picturesque imaginings”.


‘The Pencil of Nature’