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Photography has been
around for a long period of time, and despite the many different early
photographic processes, perhaps 3 main ones stood out: Daguerreotype,
Ambrotype, and Tintypes. In particular, ambrotype
is one of the many early photographic processes used to develop and “print”
photographs. The ambrotype process is documented to have been created by James
Anson Cutting in 1854 however, it is stated that the process was actually first
used by Frederick Scott Archer 3 years prior to Cutting, to create some of the earliest
portraits of this method. Before ambrotype, another process known as daguerreotype
was very popular. Ambrotype had easily overtaken
daguerreotype in demand and usage as soon as it came out mainly because it was easier
to view and not as expensive to produce. The main reason for this was because
unlike daguerreotype, ambrotype did not have a surface that is mirror-like or
shiny which made viewers have to tilt the photo to a certain angle to be able
to see the image. Ambrotype was also
cheaper to produce and required a shorter exposure time in order to capture an
image. Ambrotype is basically positive photographs that have been exposed onto glass.
Nevertheless, it must be noted that the glass itself when the image is produced
is actually negative. However, as it is often placed against a dark background, the image appears positive. To put it
simply, ambrotype was a glass plate that was covered with collodion that contained
iodide and then put into a silver nitrate
solution, making it so that the glass is sensitive to light and able to be
exposed to produce an image; the glass must still be wet in order to work. To
develop the image, the glass must be developed in a solution that contains both
of nitric acid and iron sulfate and then
bathed in either sodium thiosulfate or potassium cyanide. The glass will then
be dried. With that, a negative image is actually produced or printed. Even
after drying, oftentimes a transparent varnish will be used over the image. As
the last step of printing, a dark background is then placed with the glass to
create a positive image. In fact, the dark background sometimes creates a certain depth of the image.

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