Photos: Antiquated photography techniques allow imperfections to shine through in a new exhibition

With the help of technology, photography has become more user-friendly than ever. High quality lenses, powerful digital sensors, and compact cameras have replaced the burly equipment, physical darkrooms, and deadly chemicals of decades past. Now, an amateur picking up a camera for the first time can produce images with incredible sharpness and clarity.

This increasing seamlessness has inspired some photographers to return to the art’s more challenging primitive techniques. The exhibition “A New And Mysterious Art,” which is on display at Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York until Oct. 29, focuses on artists who use old, cumbersome, and labor intensive mediums such as Civil War-era tin types, daguerreotypes and camera obscuras. The results are images from the past 10 years which reject the cleanliness of modern digital forms, instead opting for, as a release for the show notes, “an immediacy and unpredictability that [draws] attention to the illusory nature” of photography.

While modern technology might make it easier to produce a more technically perfect image, curator Jerry Spagnoli says these old styles conjure an energy “which gives these images their power.”

“Conjoined Twins,” an albumen print from a wetplate collodion negative. (Courtesy Stephen Berkman/Howard Greenberg Gallery)
“Black Veil.” Pencil on waxed calotype negative, and salt print. (Courtesy of Dan Estabrook/Howard Greenberg Gallery)
“Pablo, Letters to my Grandchildren.” Ambrotype, wet collodion on acrylic glass, varnish, paint, gold leaf. (Courtest of Matthias Olmeta/Howard Greenberg Gallery)
“View from Talbot’s Grave.” Pigment print from a photogenic drawing. (Courtesy of France Scully Osterman & Mark Osterman/Howard Greenberg Gallery)
“Untitled (Self-Portraits).” Unique collodion wet-plate positives on metal, with<br />sandarac varnish. (Courtesy Sally Mann/Edwynn Houk Gallery/Howard Greenberg Gallery)
“A Maquette for a Multiple Monument for B29:Bockscar.’ Daguerreotype. (Courtesy Takashi Arai/Howard Greenberg Gallery)
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