Born in Dobrilugk, Prussia (now Germany) on March 26, 1834, Hermann Wilhelm Vogel was a merchant's son who had to leave school when he was 14 to help support his family. He seemed to be following in his father's footsteps, serving as a sales agent's assistant, but then his career path changed upon entering the Frankfurt/Oder trade school in 1850. After two years there, he transferred to Berlin's trade school, where he studied natural sciences and later became a scientific assistant at its Mineralogical Museum. His interest in photography began during this period as he conducted several photomicrography experiments.
In 1863, after completing his doctorate on photography theory (believed to be the first such photochemistry research of its kind in Germany), Dr. Vogel founded the Berlin Photographic Society. The following year, he founded a photographic laboratory at the Berlin industrial school where he received his education. As Prussia's only photochemistry practitioner, Dr. Vogel left an indelible imprint upon the development of photography in Germany. In 1864, he became editor and publisher of Photographische Mitheilungen, and established Germany's first extensive photography exhibition in Berlin in 1865. He wrote several articles on photographic process including "Prevention of the destruction of collodion negatives by varnish" (1863) and "On the sensitiveness of chloride, bromide, iodide of silver" (1864). Dr. Vogel also wrote several articles on perspective and studio lighting, conducted his famous color sensitization experiments in 1865, and eight years' later, recorded his success in creating plates that were sensitive to red, green, and yellow.
While serving as Professor of Photography at Berlin's Royal Industrial Academy, Dr. Vogel wrote The Chemistry of Light and Photography, the first edition of which was published in 1875. In this important text, the history of photography was chronicled, light's physical and chemical properties were discussed, and photographic techniques were examined in a manner that was both informative enough for professional photographers and easily understood by novices. He continued his research, and his disproved the dissociation theory of Sir Norman Lockyer with his discovery of ultra violet hydrogen lines. He was an active member of several industrial societies, and acted as chairman for spectral analysis and chairman for color theory at the Berlin Technical High School.
Dr. Vogel became an ambassador of photography worldwide, serving as a juror at the world's fairs held in Paris (1867), Vienna (1873), Philadelphia (1876), and Chicago (1893). He organized the half-centennial celebration of photography in 1889, and led several archaeological and photographic expeditions to view solar eclipses from 1868 until 1888. Sixty-four-year-old Hermann Wilhelm Vogel died on December 17, 1898. He left behind voluminous photographic archives and an unparalleled legacy in Germany's history of photography.
2011 The Chemistry of Light and Photography (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
2007 Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Vol. I (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group LLC), pp. 1455-1456.
1885 The Philadelphia Photographer (Philadelphia: Edward L. Wilson), p. xiv.
1899 The Photogram, Vol. VI (London: Dawbarn & Ward, Ltd.), p. 61.
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