Hurter and Driffield

Ferdinand Hurter (1844-1898) and Vero Charles Driffield (1848-1815)

The Mathmaticization of Photography

There was a profound shift (a paradigm shift in the Kuhnian sense) in the perception of photography around 1880. From 1839 until the mid 1870s, discussions of photography were largely qualitative, e.g. is it an art or a science?

General public sentiment, as far as I can tell, was not overwhelmingly positive in this regard—photography was seen as a lesser method of depicting actuality. However, given its cheapness, it was more accessible to the public at large who could not afford the services of most painters or artists. The science of photography was largely of an alchemical sort. The scientific questions were also qualitative, due to the failure of photographic “evidence” to fit existing theories of the behavior of light. Were there new “imponderables” (phenomena without mass) to contend with besides light, heat, magnetism, and electricity? The questions were ones of kind, not relationship. That is, until Hurter and Driffield.

Continue reading “Hurter and Driffield”