Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sir John Herschel

Image Title: Sir John Herschel

Artist: Julia Margaret Cameron
Year it was Produced: April 1867

Julia Margaret Cameron was on of the first  women photographers who owned her own camera, and how she took pictures, like Sir John Herschel, was very unique to the time period. Cameron avoided using the perfect resolution and minute detail that the glass negatives, which were used in the 1860s, required. Instead she used carefully directed light, a soft focus, and longer exposures, meaning instead of seconds, she would use minutes. There are no classical columns, piles of weighty columns, scientific attributes, academic pose or  anything that related to Sir John Herschel, who was a scientist and mathematician. She did not take a typical portrait, instead she took the history that he and her shared and put it into the portrait she thought suited him best. Seeing him as more of a vision emerging from the darkness. 
My first reaction to this photograph is the erie feeling, like a ghost. Until i read about the description behind the style of photography, i didn’t understand why such a famous mathematician, would be photographed as a ghost, like he wasn’t alive anymore. But after reading her remarks, I understand she was seeing him more as a vision, because he was the person who sent her, her first photograph, along with his discoveries he made through his life. So she wanted him to be viewed as a visionary like in the Old Testament in the Bible.

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