Monday 27 September 2010

It was 100 years ago today ...

...that Professor Robert Williams Wood gave his landmark lecture Photography by Invisible Rays to the Royal Photographic Society at its HQ in Russell Square, London. As the RPS members meeting card shows, this was at 8pm.

To put this in context, it was only four years since Wratten and Wainwright had started production of the first panchromatic photographic plates available in the shops. Before this photographers wanting to photograph anything red had to sensitise their own plates. Ironically, the new panchromatic photography had its detractors who said that this was not real photography at all; that the world as seen through the lens should only record ultraviolet and blue. Into this photographic world Wood introduced the often surreal and potentially very useful features of infrared imaging.

At this time it seems that only Wood (starting in 1908) and CEK (Kenneth) Mees of Wratten and Wainwright and the Croydon Camera Club (who took some of his own plates to Portugal in 1910) had ever photographed infrared landscapes. Now Google images returns ten million hits on the word infrared and over a million on infrared photograph. Wood's landscapes are where it all started, over a century ago.