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Saturday, October 27, 2007

The early history of photography

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In 1827, a Frenchmen named Joseph Nic?phore Ni?pce created the first fixed image. Another French citizen experimenting with images during the first half of the 19th century was Louis Jacques Mand? Daguerre. He was actually a scene painter, but his hobby involved experimenting with light upon lucid paintings. In 1829, Joseph Nic?phore Ni?pce and Louis Jacques Mand? Daguerre began to work together, trying to improve the process invented by Ni?pce in 1827. Ni?pce only a few years later, but Daguerre continued their work and finally managed to create a more practical method of capturing images. The first fixed image created by Ni?pce had taken 8 hours to finish. With the new technique, Daguerre had managed to decrease the necessary exposure time to less than half an hour. The image was also less prone to disappear than with the original technique. Daguerre named the new technique after himself - the daguerreotype. In 1839, the French government purchased the invention from Daguerre and Ni?pce's son. That same year, Daguerre and Ni?pce's son published a book that described the new invention and the process behind it. This was also the year when the term photograph was coined by scientist Sir John F.W. Herschel. The term is a combination of the Greek word for light - photos - and the Greek word graphein, which means "to draw".

The daguerreotype technique involved the use of a piece of metal that had been sensitized and made capable of catching an image. During the photo process, a positive silver image was affixed at the metal plate. The technique spread rapidly and in 1850 more than 70 studios using the daguerreotype could be found a New York City. Later on, a man named William Henry Fox Talbot invented the process where a negative can be used to create a multitude of positive photographs. In 1856, Hamilton Smith invented the so called tintypes. When tintypes are used, a thin sheet of iron will serve as base for a light-sensitive material.

The next important step in the history of photography was taken when sensitized materials were coated on plate glass for the first time. These early glass negatives were wet plate ones, and the photographer was forced to develop them very rapidly. If the emulsion dried, the photograph was ruined.

The mass produced box camera was made possible by a man named George Eastman when he began to use a much more practical type of film in 1889. The base of the film was flexible and hard to break, and one of the foremost advantages of this new film was the fact that it could be conveniently rolled. The base was made from cellulose nitrate and coated with emulsions. The first camera created by Eastman was made from wood and was filled with film at the factory. When the photographer had used up all the film inside the camera, it was mailed to the Kodak factory for development and printing. The photographer could then have his camera refilled with new film and mailed back. This made it possible for amateur photographers to use a camera even without having access to any developing facility themselves. A lot of the very oldest photographs depicting everyday American life are from this era.

A good way to learn to take better picture is to visit photo blogs like Dog photos a blog by Lena Wettergren

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