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Cimelia Photographica

The Painted Sky

One of the main difficulties that faced early practitioners of photography was the reproduction of the sky, which typically appeared cloudless and unusually smooth in landscape and architectural photographs. This was caused initially by the extremely long exsposure time necessary for early negatives, which made them susceptible to the so-called "solarisation" effect, causing the sky to appear black in positive print. To prevent this, the negatives were retouched by completely painting over the sky on the negative with black or red paint so that it appears as an even light-coloured area in the photograph. However, photographers often used the paint only to redraw the line of the horizon and then used paper to mask the rest. They attached it to the top edge of the negative and folded it over so that it covered the remainder of the sky opaquely, which obtained the same result. However, many photographers were dissatisfied with the resulting lack of atmosphere in photographs produced by this process. Therefore, they soon went over to subsequently drawing clouds in ink directly on the negative or photograph or to photographing the landscape or architecture and the clouds separately and then merging the two negatives into a single photograph using combination printing. In the case of the Genoa views, the missing representation of the clouds was obviously evidently considered to be so distracting that without further ado they were added in pencil to the photographs.


Paolo Lombardi: Via di Città with Palazzo Chigi - Saracini in Siena, salt paper treated with albumin, 1851-1859. Photograph: 25.3 x 19.5 cm (inventory no. 11241)

Unidentified photographer: Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, albumin print, around 1860. Photograph: 25.2 x 19.5 cm (inventory no. 103299)

Antonio Perini?: Ponte dei Sospiri in Venice, albumin print, around 1860. Photograph: 24 x 18.4 cm (inventory no. 464800)

Paolo Lombardi: Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, albumin print, after 1865. Photograph: 25.7 x 19.5 cm (inventory no. 20821)

Unidentified photographer: Colosseum in Rome, albumin print. Photograph: 26.7 x 37.1 cm (inventory no. 13864)

Unidentified photographer: View from the dome of St. Peter’s over Rome, albumin print, 1880-1890. Photograph: 25.2 x 37.4 cm (inventory no. 13872)

Romualdo Moscioni: Castel del Monte, albumin print, before 1893. Photograph: 27.2 x 38.9 cm (inventory no. 4255)

Francesco Ciappei: View over Genoa from the north-west, albumin print, before 1877. Photograph: 19.5 x 26.5 cm (inventory no. 464794)

Francesco Ciappei?: The harbour of Genoa, albumin print, before 1877. Photograph: 20.4 x 26.8 cm (inventory no. 464797)




© KHI in Florence | 25.09.2021 18:30:01