In the Beginning: Brief historical overview; Intro to shooting; Photograms and Pinhole


History of Photography 

Please make use of the “pause” button while viewing as some of the slide timing is a bit off

Intro to Shooting

Silver and Light




Many artists have dabbled in creating these images including Picasso and Corneilia Parker but Man Ray is the one considered to have “discovered” the technique. The experimental film make Stan Brachage made a short film released in 1963 called Mothlight. The film was created without the use of a camera, by pressing objects between two strips of clear mylar film, and passing them through an optical printer.

Man Ray   (American, 1890-1976) produced his first photograms—cameraless works made by placing objects and other materials on photosensitive paper—after he came to Paris in 1921. Though he claimed that he discovered the technique through an accident in the darkroom, it seems likely that his exploration was prompted by fellow artist Tristan Tzara, who brought to Paris some of Christian Schad’s earlier experiments with the medium in Switzerland. Man Ray dubbed the results of his efforts “Rayographs”—a play on his name, but also a twist on the Latin roots of the word “photograph,” meaning “light-writing.” Tzara proclaimed them “pure Dada creations.”


Contemporary Photograms

Greg Stimac “The Golden Spike”


About the project:

Excerpt from the Press Release for the exhibition at ANDREW RAFACZ Gallery 

“Since the beginning of his practice, Greg Stimac has been interested in American history and specifically, historical and cultural moments, whether past or present, that wholly and exclusively represent America. He is interested in what defines us as a country and a people. His work is that of a keen observer and documentarian.

For his new body of work, Stimac was granted access to the Golden Spike (or ‘Last Spike’), the ceremonial spike driven by Leland Stanford to connect the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. This act connected the East and the West and created the First Transcontinental Railroad. The Golden Spike was made of 17.6-karat (73%) copper-alloyed gold, and weighed 14.03 troy ounces (436 g). As the locomotives of the two railroads were drawn face-to-face, the spike was dropped into a pre-drilled hole in the laurel ceremonial last tie, and gently tapped into place with a silver ceremonial spike maul. It was engraved on all four sides with dates and the names of those railroad officers involved in the momentous occasion.

Currently housed in the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Stimac gained unprecedented access to the spike and under careful supervision of the museum’s officials, created a series of gold-toned silver gelatin photograms of the famous historical icon. The spike was placed onto silver gelatin paper, exposed to light and gold toned after development, producing a variety of silver hues, warm to cool. Traditional photograms usually function as a representation of the object. In a way, this is still the case here, but the absence of the object is also highlighted, spurring a notion of undoing and a feeling of incompleteness. The positive image that is left is a white spike, the negative of the real object, with an orbital gradation of light emanating away from it. The reflected light creates a burn along the left side of the image that makes portions of the original’s inscription visible.”



History and Technical Information 

Peggy Anne Jones

Check out some pinhole and photogram work from my elementary school students here


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