The Sabatier effect (not)
My friend Mark recently asked me if it was possible to solarise collodion plates. I was sure that it must have been done, and set about doing a google image search to find an example. In the process, I discovered three interesting things.
First, solarised images were initially made on collodion plates, only a short time after the process was invented by Frederick Scott Archer. Most likely, the effect was discovered by accidental exposure of a plate to light during development.
Second, the effect was first demonstrated by an Englishman, William Jackson, in 1857. Although it is often known as the Sabatier effect, the latter didn’t publish his findings until 1860 and was most likely aware that his discovery was not novel.
Thirdly, Edgar Degas made collodion plates and was an early experimenter with the artistic possibilities of solarisation.
There is a very authoritative guide to solarisation on the web, published by William Jolly of University of California, Berkeley..
So, Mark has done a pretty good job of stimulating my interest in solarisation. I’m certainly curious to see how genuine solarisation in a wet process compares to the rather naff Photoshop filter. Watch this space.