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Tag Archives: The Independent

Anna Atkins – photographer

Anna Atkins was an English botanist and photographer. She is often considered the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images. Some sources claim that she was the first woman to create a photograph. No I hadn’t heard of her before today either, Google decided to use it’s doodle to tell us about her.

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The Independent picked up on this and here is what they say

Today marks the birthday of Anna Atkins, a British botanist whose use of cyanotypes – or ‘sunprints’ – of plants and algae in botanical studies paved the way for the use of photography in scientific publishing.

Now versions of her beautiful photographic images are being used as a Google doodle to celebrate the 216th anniversary of her birth, in 1799. The delicate leaves used to spell out the name of the search engine are slate blue against a darker blue background. This is due to the cyanotype process, which involves the exposure of a mix of ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferricyanide to ultraviolet light, leaving the paper so-called Prussian blue.

In fact, the word ‘blueprint’ comes from the same process, which had previously been used to reproduce architectural drawings and designs. Atkins’ claim to fame rests on her realisation that the photographic process could be used to give accurate and detailed botanical images, thus advancing the possibility of scientific illustration. She did this by placing leaves directly on the paper for the length of the exposure, which makes these, strictly speaking, photograms, rather than photographs.

Ann Atkins' use of cyanotypes in botanical books was a first for scientific publishing, and for photographyAnn Atkins’ use of cyanotypes in botanical books was a first for scientific publishing, and for photography

However, Atkins’ first book using the technique didn’t show leaves such as those we see in today’s Google Doodle. Instead this was Photographs of British Algae, in 1843, a privately published collection with handwritten captions to the individually produced cyanotypes.

It was her mentor – and the inventor of the cyanotype process – English astronomer Sir John Herschel, who produced the first commercially published book illustrated with photographs, The Pencil of Nature, in 1844.




Google Photography Prize winner – Viktor Johansson

I must use google 20 or 30 times a day and although I am there more than I am at home I had never heard of the google photography prize until it announced a winner.

Grand Prize – Viktor Johansson

“Viktor is a 24-year-old student at the Swedish photography school, Nordens Fotoskola Biskops-Arnö. The judges were impressed and captivated with his series that focused on Christoffer Eskilsson, Sweden’s best male diver from 10 metres. Viktor has chosen to show us an alternative view, one that we are not used to seeing from sport photography in the media. Instead of glamorous action shots of an athlete in competition, he has produced arresting and unexpected photographs that focus on the long, lonely hours of repetitive training and practice that it takes to excel in your field.”

I have searched for a web site for Viktor without luck so although there is much media coverage of his win and his winning portfolio you may have to wait for further information.

I think that the competition is open to students, but if I am honest I haven’t looked at the rules, and I also assume there is a competition running through the next 12 months but again I struggle to find the information, seems to me that for an information company google are not doing well in this instance.

Here is the link to the google photography prize page

All images © Viktor Johansson

Other links of interest

The Telegraph

The Independent


Design Week

Art of Arrangement – still life photography

An exhibition, currently in Bath about still life photography.

“The National Media Museum has wanted to make an exhibition on still lifes for a long time,” says Brian Liddy, the museum’s curator of collections access. “It’s a classic genre but it hasn’t been addressed for a while. I think people have forgotten how interesting it is – old-fashioned photographs of food and flowers shot against a flat background might sound boring, but the roots of the genre are in 17th century Dutch painting and are all about death, mortality, and the transitory nature of earthly pleasures. Still lifes may take seemingly simple subjects, but they deal with some of the great questions of art.”

Art of Arrangement: Photography and the Still Life Tradition is on show at The Holburne Museum in Bath until 07 May.

Still life with ivory tankard and fruit, about 1860. Roger Fenton.
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum.

Art of Arrangement

11/2/12 – 7/5/12

Art of Arrangement: Photography and the Still Life Tradition
11 February to 7 May 2012
Admission £6.50 / Concessions

Art of Arrangement: Photography and the Still Life Tradition is a visually arresting exhibition organised in partnership with the National Media Museum, it surveys the many ways in which photographers have explored still life.

FULL DETAILS FROM The  Holbourne Museum

There is a review of the exhibition in the Independent by Adrian Hamilton

Photography and painting have always looked over their shoulder at the other. There is barely a show of a modern artist – viz David Hockney, Lucian Freud and Gerhard Richter – which hasn’t a description of how the artist has set out to prove that painting can reach the parts that photography does not dare to go.

But then photographers have, since the beginning a century and a half ago, just as consciously sought to set themselves up to challenge and to surpass traditional painting. It’s a theme currently explored by the Holburne Museum in Bath in an intriguing show of photographic still life. Right at the start, Henry Fox Talbot, the founder of the new medium numbered it as a genre where photography could and should show its worth. It’s still going strong.”.…MORE