Photographic glossary

Albumen print

 

The albumen print was invented in about 1850 by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard (1802–72), and was prevalent until about 1890. An albumen print is created by floating a thin sheet of paper in a bath of beaten egg white and salt, making the paper’s surface glossy and smooth. Once dried, the paper is then sensitised with a layer of silver nitrate before being dried again, this time in the dark. The now light-sensitive paper is then pressed against a glass or waxed paper negative and exposed to sunlight for a few minutes or hours, allowing an image to form on the paper. The print is then fixed in a solution and washed thoroughly. Albumen prints can be toned during processing for colour variations. After 1855 they were often toned with gold chloride in order to enrich their colour and increase their permanence.

Albumen prints can be distinguished by the yellow or yellowish-brown stains that appear in the whites and highlight areas. They are also often adhered to a backing board due to the fragile nature of the paper used for their production.
 

Image: Sawai Ram SINGH II, Maharaja of Jaipur

Portrait of a courtesan  c. 1860

albumen print

22.4 x 16.1 cm

courtesy of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) (Bengaluru)

Attribution

 

An attribution is given to a work when it can be said confidently, but not definitely, to have been made by a specified artist. Grounds for attribution include close stylistic affinity to works confirmed to have been made by that maker, as well as other compelling circumstantial evidence.

Image: Charles SCOTT (attributed)

Caves of Karlie – seven attendant musicians

c. 1855–62

from the album Photographs of Western India

albumen print

19.3 x 24.2 cm

courtesy of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) (Bengaluru)

Carbon print

 

The carbon printing process was introduced in 1855 by French chemist Alphonse-Louis Poitevin (1819–82) before being improved in 1858 by John Pouncy (1818–94), and then perfected by the British chemist and physicist Joseph Wilson Swan (1828–1914) in 1864. The process involves the use of carbon tissue, a sheet of lightweight paper coated with gelatin containing potassium bichromate and a pigment, usually carbon black. The carbon tissue is placed in contact with a negative in daylight and given a timed exposure. The parts of the gelatin that get exposed to light during this time harden. The exposed tissue is then transferred to a paper support by wetting both papers, placing the tissue face down onto the new paper, and squeegeeing the pigmented film into firm contact. Under water, the exposed carbon tissue is carefully peeled away. The unexposed pigmented gelatin dissolves in the bath, and the positive carbon print is revealed on the new paper support. Because the process involves a transfer to a second sheet of paper, the finished image is shown in reverse. This reversal can either be maintained or counteracted by beginning with a reversed negative or by another transfer at the end of the process.

Carbon prints are characterised by deep glossy darks, usually blacks. They were popular from about 1870 to 1910. Since the process did not involve the use of silver, which could degrade over time, these prints were known for their permanence.

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Image: Lala Deen DAYAL

HH The Maharaja of Jammu  Kashmir  c. 1880

from the album Princes and Chiefs of India 

carbon print

25.1 x 19.5 cm

courtesy of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) (Bengaluru)

Chromogenic print

 

Chromogenic prints are printed on paper that has at least three emulsion layers containing invisible dyes and silver salts. Each emulsion layer is sensitive to a different primary colour of light (red, green or blue). The development process converts the hidden dyes to visible colour depending on the amount of light it was exposed to. This type of paper is commonly used to print from colour negatives or digital files to produce a full-colour image. It can also be used to print black-and-white images, giving softer grain and less contrast than gelatin silver prints. Commonly known as c-type prints, chromogenic processing was developed in the 1940s and widely used for colour printing, including for domestic snapshots. While recent years have seen this process accompanied by ink-jet and digital printing technologies, chromogenic printing still remains in use to this day. 

Image: Pushpamala N with Clare ARNI

Returning from the tank  2001

from the series Native women of South India (manners and customs)

chromogenic print

55.7 x 34.5 cm

courtesy of the artists and Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) (Bengaluru)

Collage

 

The word ‘collage’ is derived from the French word coller, which means ‘to stick on’. It is used to describe an artistic technique or art form in which different materials, such as photographs, pieces of paper, fabric, and sometimes three-dimensional elements are arranged and stuck down on a supporting surface.  

Image: Khubiram GOPILAL

A family worshipping deity Shrinathji during the festival of Nanda  c. 1940

gouache, gelatin silver prints

40.5 x 53.0 cm

courtesy of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) (Bengaluru)

Gelatin silver print

 

Gelatin silver prints are black-and-white photographic prints that have been created using papers coated with an emulsion of gelatin and light-sensitive silver salts. After the papers are briefly exposed to light (usually through a negative), a chemical developer renders the latent image as reduced silver, which is then fixed and washed. This technique was first introduced in the 1870s and is still used today. Most twentieth-century black-and-white photographs are gelatin silver prints. They are known for being highly detailed and sharply defined prints with a distinguishable smooth, even image surface.

Image: Jyoti BHATT

A Rajasthani (Meena community) woman decorating a bullock for Gordhan Pooja festival  1989

gelatin silver print

34.5 x 51.0 cm

courtesy of the artist and the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) (Bengaluru)

Gouache

 

Gouache is a type of water-based paint that is made up of natural pigment, water and a binding agent. It is similar to watercolour but designed to be opaque.
 

Image: Johnston & Hoffmann

Maharaja Sir Bhagwati Prasad Singh  1915

hand-coloured albumen print

46.0 x 33.0 cm

courtesy of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) (Bengaluru)

Hand colouring

 

Hand colouring refers to any method of manually adding colour to a photographic print, generally either to heighten the realism of the image or for artistic purposes. Hand colouring is also known as hand painting or overpainting.

 

Typically, watercoloursoilscrayons or pastels, and other paints or dyes are applied to the image surface using brushes, fingers, cotton swabs, sponges or airbrushes. Hand colouring was popular in the mid- to late 19th century before the invention of colour photography, but the technique is also used today in contemporary photographic practice.

Image: Karen KNORR

A place like Amravati, Udaipur City Palace (Sarus Crane), Udaipur  2011

pigment ink-jet print

50.8 x 63.5 cm

courtesy of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) (Bengaluru)

Ink-jet print

 

Also known as Giclee prints or bubble-jet prints, pigment ink-jet prints are generated by computer printers from digital or scanned files using dye-based or pigment-based inks. A series of nozzles spray tiny droplets of ink onto the paper surface in a precise pattern that corresponds to the digital image file. In dye-based prints the ink soaks into the paper, whereas in pigment-based prints the ink rests and dries on top of the paper surface.

 

Whilst the term is broad, pigment ink-jet prints have come to be associated with prints produced on fine art papers. They are the most versatile and archival method of printing available to photographers today. A wide variety of material on which an image can be printed with such inks are available, including various textures and finishes such as matte photo paperwatercolour paper, cotton canvas or pre-coated canvas.