Elijah Hart - Photographic process, 1854

Photography.-It is perhaps unnecessary to inform our readers that this beautiful art-sun-painting, or rather drawing by the agency of light, is divided into two branches, daguerreotype, the French discovery of M. Daguerre, where the image is impressed by the camera on silvered copper-plate, and talbotype, the English discovery of Mr. Talbot, in which the image is fixed on paper. Both these branches of the art have been practised with considerable success for some years in Sydney, but singular as it may appear, while several Englishmen and one American have devoted themselves to the French discovery only, one gentleman, M. Helyer, a German, has turned his attention professionally to the English discovery of Mr. Talbot.

The collodion, a recent and most valuable improvement on the paper process, is now practised with great success in the mother country, but with the exception of some specimens by amateurs, we have not seen a single collodion picture produced by any of our professional photographers in Sydney. From what we know of this branch of the art, we feel satisfied that it is destined to supercede all the others. Instead of paper, glass is now employed for receiving the camera image, and those of our readers who know any thing of the difficulties of the paper process, as introduced by Mr. Talbot, will at once appreciate the immense al vantage of the sharpness and distinctness of the positive picture, by substituting a transparent for a semi-transparent medium for the negative picture. To the uninitiated it may be necessary to state, that the negative picture means the one impressed by the camera where all the lights and shades are transposed, but from which any number of positive pictures may be taken by the mere transmission of light, with the lights and shades as they ought to be.

We have been led into this strain from a visit we have just paid to Mr. Hart's Daguerrean Gallery, where he has on view some beautiful specimens of French photographs on paper, evidently printed from glass negatives. They are the largest, and perhaps the finest specimens of photographs we have seen, and we would advise any of our readers, who really desire to see to what perfection this beautiful ort may be brought, to visit Mr. Hart's gallery and judge for themselves, while the opportunity lasts ; and this will not be long, as that gentleman, who has practised Daguerreotype very successfully among in for some time, informs us that in consequence of indisposition he is about to close his gallery in Sydney, and proceed on a tour into the interior for the benefit of his health. The specimens which he has just received from Paris will amply re- pay any one who examines them… [1]   

  • In December of 1854 a correspondent signed as “E.H.”, presumably Elijah Hart, writes to the editor to the Sydney Morning Herald, outlining the collodion process:


To the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sir,-Knowing that you are ever ready to promote the cause of science, I make no apology for requesting you to publish for the benefit of my brother photographers, the following means of doing away with the only drawback and difficulty that had hitherto attended that most beautiful of all photographic processes, the Collodion Process. Till within a few months this great drawback existed in the impossibility of proceeding farther than a five minutes’ walk from home, for the purpose of obtaining a reproduction of any desired landscape, as the prepared plate would not remain sensitive to light for a longer period ; now, however, by the process given below, and which I have put into practice with marked success, the prepared plate may be kept in a sensitive state for three weeks. It is not a discovery of my own, but an extract from the Journal of the Photographic Society of London, for July last, and as many of our amateur photographers not only do not see that journal, but do not even know that such a Society exists, I am induced, for their benefit, to request you to publish the formula…

I am, Sir, your obedient servant, E. H.   [2]


[1] The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 1854

[2] The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 December 1854