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Remembering Mungo Ponton, Inventor of the Photoengraving Processes

Mungo Ponton
November 20, 2014 /Photography News/ Born 213 years ago today, on 20 November 1801, Mungo Ponton was a Scotish inventor who in created a method of permanent photography based on sodium dichromate.

In 1839, while experimenting with early photographic processes developed that year by William Henry Fox Talbot, Ponton discovered the light-sensitive quality of sodium dichromate. He presented his findings to the Society of Arts for Scotland, but did not attempt to patent the photographic process. However, he published his findings in the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal. Others experimented with his discovery including Talbot, Edmund Becquerel, Alphonse Poitevin, and John Pouncey, all of whom patented their photographic techniques. Mungo Ponton's findings were vitally important to the development of photography, paving the way for nearly all the photomechanical processes that later came into standard use.

Mungo continued to work on photography and in 1845 the Society again awarded him a silver medal for his process for measuring the hourly variation in temperature of photographic paper. That year he also developed a variation on the calotype process to allow for shorter exposure times.

Mungo Ponton died on 3 August 1880.
Photographs of pollen. Plate O, from Mungo Ponton, The Beginning: Its When and Its How, 1871



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