Teachers Lesson Plans

Drawing With Light

Camera lucida
Camera lucida
Definition: Latin, meaning “lighted room.” A drawing aid consisting of a prism attached to a vertical rod clamped onto a drawing board or pad. The draftsman pointed the prism at the view and looked down through it, tracing the image that appeared to be on the paper.

Camera Lucida
Cornelius Varley (British, 1781-1873)
Artist Sketching with a Wollaston-Style Camera Lucida, c. 1830
Engraving 16.5 x 7.5 cm
Gernsheim Collection Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas at Austin

Camera obscura
Camera obscura
Definition: Latin, meaning “dark room.” Light entering through a small hole in one wall forms on the opposite wall an image of the scene outside. The image is upside down and backwards. A camera obscura can be room-sized or hand-held.

Camera Obscura (table model) c. 1820

Contact print
Contact print
Definition: A photographic print the same size as the negative from which it was made. The negative is in direct contact with the photographic paper during printing.

Daguerreotype
Daguerreotype
Definition: The first commercial photographic process. A daguerreotype is a finely detailed image formed on a sheet of silver-plated copper. It is fragile and non-reproducible.

Unknown (American)
Youth with Freckles 1850
daguerreotype 10.3 x 7.7 cm quarter-plate; image: 9 x 7.1 cm sight

Enlargement
Enlargement
Definition: A photographic print larger than the negative from which it was made.

Exposure
Exposure
Definition: The amount of light that falls on a film or negative. In a camera, exposure is determined by the length of time the shutter is open, and the size of the opening through which the light passes.

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Behind Gare St. Lazare, 1932
gelatin silver print
24.7 x 15.7 cm
© Henri Cartier-Bresson

Large format camera
Large format camera
Definition: A camera that produces a negative larger than 35 mm. 4” x 5” and 8” x 10” cameras are still commonly used in landscape photography.

Pictorialism
Pictorialism
Definition: A movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that sought to have photography recognized as a fine art. Pictorialist photographers manipulated their prints to achieve a variety of effects. Romantic subjects in soft focus were common.

Julia Margaret Cameron
The Guardian Angel 1869
albumen silver print 29.4 x 16.4 cm

Pinhole Camera
Pinhole Camera
Definition: The simplest camera you can use to take a photograph. A pinhole camera is a closed light-tight box with a pinhole on one side. Light enters through the hole and projects an inverted and reversed image on photographic film or paper placed inside the box, opposite the hole.

Retouching
Definition: The alteration by hand of the look of a photographic negative or print. Retouching is most often used in portraiture, to hide minor blemishes and imperfections.

Still-life
Still-life
Definition: A picture of inanimate objects. Still-lifes appear throughout the history of art and photography. Common subjects include food, flowers, tableware, books, and dead animals.

David Hlynsky
Still Life in a Fish Bowl 1983
chromogenic print (Ektacolor)
50.7 x 40.6 cm; image: 35.5 x 35.5 cm

Straight photography
Straight photography
Definition: A movement of the first half of the 20th century that returned photography to its pure form. Straight photographs are direct - unposed, unmanipulated and unsentimental. Their power comes through a technical mastery of the medium, including framing, light and shade, line, and texture.

Walker Evans
A Room in Inverness, Nova Scotia 1971
gelatin silver print
35.3 x 27.8 cm; image: 25 x 25.5 cm
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art