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In
photography Photography is the art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It is employed in ...
, a negative is an
image An SAR radar image acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR radar on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows the Teide volcano. The city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is visible as the purple and white area on the lower right edge of the island. Lava flows a ...
, usually on a strip or sheet of transparent
plastic film Plastic film is a thin continuous polymeric material. Thicker plastic material is often called a "sheet". These thin plastic membranes are used to separate areas or volumes, to hold items, to act as barriers, or as printable surfaces. Plasti ...
, in which the lightest areas of the photographed subject appear darkest and the darkest areas appear lightest. This reversed order occurs because the extremely light-sensitive chemicals a camera film must use to capture an image quickly enough for ordinary picture-taking are darkened, rather than bleached, by exposure to light and subsequent
photographic processing Photographic processing or photographic development is the chemical means by which photographic film or paper is treated after photographic exposure to produce a negative or positive image. Photographic processing transforms the latent image into a ...
. In the case of
color Color (American English), or colour (Commonwealth English), is the characteristic of visual perception described through color ''categories'', with names such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple. This perception of color derives f ...
negatives, the colors are also reversed into their respective
complementary color Complementary colors are pairs of colors which, when combined or mixed, cancel each other out (lose hue) by producing a grayscale color like white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those two color ...
s. Typical color negatives have an overall dull orange tint due to an automatic color-masking feature that ultimately results in improved color reproduction. Negatives are normally used to make positive prints on photographic paper by projecting the negative onto the paper with a
photographic enlarger An enlarger is a specialized transparency projector used to produce photographic prints from film or glass negatives, or from transparencies. Construction All enlargers consist of a light source, normally an incandescent light bulb shining though ...
or making a
contact print A contact print is a photographic image produced from film; sometimes from a film negative, and sometimes from a film positive or paper negative. In a darkroom an exposed and developed piece of film or photographic paper is placed emulsion side d ...

contact print
. The paper is also darkened in proportion to its
exposure Exposure or Exposures may refer to: People * The Exposures, a pseudonym for German electronic musician Jan Jeline Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Exposure'' (film), a 1932 American film * ''Exposure'', another name for the 1991 movie '' ...
to light, so a second reversal results which restores light and dark to their normal order. Negatives were once commonly made on a thin sheet of glass rather than a plastic film, and some of the earliest negatives were made on paper. It is incorrect to call an image a negative solely because it is on a transparent material. Transparent prints can be made by printing a negative onto special positive film, as is done to make traditional
motion picture A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere through the use of moving images. These image ...
film prints for use in theaters. Some films used in cameras are designed to be developed by reversal processing, which produces the final positive, instead of a negative, on the original film. Positives on film or glass are known as transparencies or diapositives, and if mounted in small frames designed for use in a
slide projector A slide projector is an opto-mechanical device for showing photographic slides. 35 mm slide projectors, direct descendants of the larger-format magic lantern, first came into widespread use during the 1950s as a form of occasional home ente ...
or magnifying viewer they are commonly called slides.


History

The first creation of a negative photograph was done by the French scientist Nicephore Niepce in 1826. The photograph, titled
View from the Window at Le Gras ''View from the Window at Le Gras'' is a heliographic image and the oldest surviving camera photograph. It was created by French inventor Nicéphore Niépce in 1827 in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France, and shows parts of the buildings and surroundin ...
is an image of parts of the buildings of Niepce's estate and the surrounding landscape. The development of
photographic film Photographic film is a strip or sheet of transparent film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals. The sizes and other characteristics of the crystals determine the ...
and
monochrome photography Monochrome photography is photography where each position on an image can record and show a different ''amount'' of light, but not a different hue. It includes all forms of black-and-white photography, which produce images containing shades of ne ...
developed rapidly in the following decades.


Negative image

A
positive Positive is a property of positivity and may refer to: Mathematics and science * Converging lens or positive lens, in optics * Plus sign, the sign "+" used to indicate a positive number * Positive (electricity), a polarity of electrical charge * ...
image is a normal image. A negative image is a total inversion, in which light areas appear dark and vice versa. A negative color image is additionally
color-reversed
color-reversed
, with red areas appearing cyan, greens appearing magenta, and blues appearing yellow, and vice versa. Film negatives usually have less contrast, but a wider
dynamic range Dynamic range (abbreviated DR, DNR, or DYR) is the ratio between the largest and smallest values that a certain quantity can assume. It is often used in the context of signals, like sound and light. It is measured either as a ratio or as a base-10 ...
, than the final printed positive images. The contrast typically increases when they are printed onto
photographic paper Photographic paper is a paper coated with a light-sensitive chemical formula, like photographic film, used for making photographic prints. When photographic paper is exposed to light, it captures a latent image that is then developed to form a visi ...
. When negative film images are brought into the digital realm, their contrast may be adjusted at the time of scanning or, more usually, during subsequent post-processing.


Negative film

70px, left, A strip of four color negatives on 35 mm film Film for cameras that use the 35 mm still format is sold as a long strip of
emulsion An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (unmixable or unblendable) owing to liquid-liquid phase separation. Emulsions are part of a more general class of two-phase systems of matter called colloids. Although t ...
-coated and perforated
plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Their plasticity makes it possible for plastics to be moulded, extruded or pressed into solid objects of various shapes. This adaptability, ...
spooled in a light-tight cassette. Before each
exposure Exposure or Exposures may refer to: People * The Exposures, a pseudonym for German electronic musician Jan Jeline Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Exposure'' (film), a 1932 American film * ''Exposure'', another name for the 1991 movie '' ...
, a mechanism inside the camera is used to pull an unexposed area of the strip out of the cassette and into position behind the
camera lens A camera lens (also known as photographic lens or photographic objective) is an optical lens or assembly of lenses used in conjunction with a camera body and mechanism to make images of objects either on photographic film or on other media capable ...
. When all exposures have been made the strip is rewound into the cassette. After the film is chemically developed, the strip shows a series of small negative images. It is usually then cut into sections for easier handling.
Medium format . Medium-format film lacks the sprocket holes of 35-mm film. Medium format has traditionally referred to a film format in still photography and the related cameras and equipment that use film. Nowadays, the term applies to film and digital cam ...
cameras use
120 film 120 is a film format for still photography introduced by Kodak for their ''Brownie No. 2'' in 1901. It was originally intended for amateur photography but was later superseded in this role by 135 film. 120 film and its close relative, 220 film, su ...
, which yields a strip of negatives 60 mm wide, and
large format Large format refers to any imaging format of 9×12 cm (3-1/2x4-3/4 inch) or larger. Large format is larger than "medium format", the 6×6 cm (2¼×2¼ inch) or 6×9 cm (2¼×3½ inch) size of Hasselblad, Mamiya, Rollei, Kowa, an ...
cameras capture each image on a single sheet of film which may be as large as 20 x 25 cm (8 x 10 inches) or even larger. Each of these photographed images may be referred to as a negative and an entire strip or set of images may be collectively referred to as "the negatives". They are the master images, from which all positive prints will derive, so they are handled and stored with special care. Many photographic processes create negative images: the chemicals involved react when exposed to light, so that during development they produce deposits of microscopic dark silver particles or colored dyes in proportion to the amount of exposure. However, when a negative image is created from a negative image (just like multiplying two
negative numbers In mathematics, a negative number is a real number that is less than zero. Negative numbers represent opposites. If positive represents a movement to the right, negative represents a movement to the left. If positive represents above sea level, t ...
in mathematics) a positive image results. This makes most chemical-based photography a two-step process, which uses
negative film In photography, a negative is an image, usually on a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film, in which the lightest areas of the photographed subject appear darkest and the darkest areas appear lightest. This reversed order occurs because the ...
and ordinary processing. Special films and development processes have been devised so that positive images can be created directly on the film; these are called positive, or slide, or (perhaps confusingly)
reversal film In photography, reversal film or slide film is a type of photographic film that produces a positive image on a transparent base. Instead of negatives and prints, reversal film is processed to produce transparencies or diapositives (abbreviated as ...
s and reversal processing. Despite the market's evolution away from film, there is still a desire and market for products which allow fine art photographers to produce negatives from digital images for their use in alternative processes such as
cyanotype Image:Joy_Oil_gas_station_blueprints.jpg">Architectural drawing photographic printing process that produces a cyan">cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of draw ...
s,
gum bichromate Gum bichromate is a 19th-century photographic printing process based on the light sensitivity of dichromates. It is capable of rendering painterly images from photographic negatives. Gum printing is traditionally a multi-layered printing process, bu ...
,
platinum prints Platinum prints, also called ''platinotypes'', are photographic prints made by a monochrome printing process involving platinum. Platinum tones range from warm black, to reddish brown, to expanded mid-tone grays that are unobtainable in silver p ...
, and many others.


References


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Negative (Photography) Photography equipment Photographic film types