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Which substance is a key component in black-and-white photography and in Jell-O?



  Pack of early dry Kodak plates
Kodak

Answer: Gelatine

Gelatin-based desserts have been around for centuries; first as a regional preparation of gelatin derived from cattle hooves and then on a commercial scale from the early 20th century. In the 1

960s, gelatin and the popular Jello-O brand were part of the American landscape. While most of us consider gelatin to be delicious summer desserts, it also plays a crucial role – without food coloring and flavor – in creating black and white films.

Prior to the 1880s, photographers used a wet plate process with colloidal silver nitrate. It was a laborious process, and the photographic plates had to be created, exposed and developed in rapid succession. It was impossible to coat a plate for later use.

In the early 1870s, English photographer and physician Richard Leach Maddox addressed the health implications of dealing with chemicals used in the wet-plate process. In particular, he worried about the exhaust gases of the process and the immediate proximity of the exhaust gases to the user of the camera.

Maddox began a series of experiments aimed at producing dry plates to remove the fumes and make photography more enjoyable. His early experiments yielded the first useful dry-plate technology (earlier attempts of other inventors at the beginning of the century yielded plates that were too light-insensitive to be useful). The difference in his design? He painted the plates with a gelatin solution and suspended the silver nitrate on top. The process was further refined by Charles Harper Bennett, and in the 1880s, commercially available dry plates made by the gelatin method were available.

Although the process has been refined and the substrate has been miniaturized and made flexible over the years, modern black and black plates have been produced White film is a direct descendant of Maddox plates with gelatin coating.


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