Born in London in 1854, Henry Chapman Jones completed his formal education at the Royal School of Mines. After working briefly for the University of London's Birkbeck College, he became a chemistry instructor at the Royal College of Science, which is where he remained in various capacities until his retirement. Mr. Chapman Jones's scientific domain was the campus's North Laboratory, and after serving on Sir Edward Frankland's staff, he assisted chemistry professors Thomas Edward Thorpe, William Augustus Tilden, and H. B. Baker. In 1879, he received a fellowship with the Royal College of Chemistry.
Mr. Chapman Jones's fascination with chemical processes naturally led him to the study of photography. His exhaustive research on technical innovation led to frequent lectures and editorials published by the Royal Photographic Society. An admirer of chemist and photographer Sir William de Wiveleslie Abney, Mr. Chapman Jones applied his scientific photographic principles to his experiments with negative densities, plate sensitivity, and image colorization. In 1890, when assessing lenses, he determined that manufacturers should strive for "equal defining power," which would improve image definition, and "equal illumination over a flat field," which he acknowledged would be impossible to achieve adequately unless the light at the plate's center could be reduced to match the margin illumination. He authored several important books, including Science and Practice of Photography (1895), considered one of the premier instructional textbooks of its time, and Photography of To-Day (1913). Mr. Chapman Jones was unapologetic at his purely scientific approach to photography, explaining, "A photographer must work intelligently if he is to work thoroughly and well; he must, in short, work scientifically. Although the artistic aspect of photography has very necessarily been prominently brought forward from time to time, it is never suggested that art study alone will make a photographer. The principles of art may indicate what is desirable in a picture, but it is the science of photography that we depend on to learn how preconceived ideas may be realized." His many contributions to the Journal of the Chemical Society reveal his extensive knowledge of qualitative chemistry and its significance to improve inferior photographic methods. In later years, he discovered how using ammonium hydrogen carbonate could be applied in the discovery of silver chloride in bromide.
Serving as president of the Royal Photographic Society from 1912 to 1914 represents Mr. Chapman Jones's crowning achievement in the photographic industry. After retiring in 1914, he lived out the remainder of his years quietly while continuing to follow the latest photographic practices and equipment enhancements. Seventy-seven-year-old Henry Chapman Jones died on March 7, 1932, survived by his wife and two sons. His contributions continue to remind historians that photography is best understood as a delicate balance between art and science.
1933 British Photographic Journal Almanac (London: Henry Greenwood & Co.), p. 304.
2007 Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Vol. I (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group LLC), p. 783.
1895 An Introduction to the Science & Practice of Photography (London: Iliffe & Son), p. 9.
1933 Obituary Notices: Henry Chapman Jones; Charles Madock Stuart, 1857–1932; Alfred Rée; Henry Lloyd Snape; Claude Metford Thompson by Henry E. Armstrong and J. J. Sudborough, Journal of the Chemical Society, pp. 468-469.
1890 Photographic Mosaics, Vol. XXVI (Philadelphia, F. Gutekunst), pp. 175-176.
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