The History Of Photography

The History Of Photography

Photographic Equipment

Newer Processes

History of the Camera


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Photography is the technique by which pictures or images are recorded on a light sensitive material by its reaction to light or similar radiation. The term ‘photography’ has its origins in two Greek words. ‘Photos’ meaning ‘light’ and ‘graphein’ meaning ‘to draw’. So photography means literally translates into ‘to draw on light’ in Greek. A scientist named Sir John Herschel coined the term in 1839 but the actual history of photography dates more than a decade earlier. 

The Contributions Of Niépce and Daguerre

The history of photography dates back to the first-ever fixed picture taken by Joseph Niépce on a hot summer day in 1827. After toiling for 8 long hours Niépce was able to produce a fixed photograph. However, the real impetus to photography was to be given a few years later by Louis Daguerre.

Daguerre, born near Paris in 1789 had been experimenting with various methods to try and secure a permanent image. He was a professional scene painter for the Opera and was consumed with the thought of being able to capture the performances that he was frequently exposed to. It was in the 1820s that Daguerre started testing the effects of light on translucent paintings. However, all his efforts bore fruit when he formed a partnership with Niépce. While Niépce died in 1833 Daguerre went on to reduce the exposure time to less than 30 minutes and to prevent the photo from vanishing.

Daguerre developed the Daguerreotype, which was an extremely convenient and effective method of photography. In 1839 Daguerre and Niépce’s son wrote a manual describing the entire process of Daguerreotype and sold the rights for this method of photography to the French government. 

The Daguerreotype method of photography became extremely popular and in less than a decade there were more than 70 such studios in New York City alone!

The Calotype Outshines The Daguerreotype

The Daguerreotype though extremely popular was rather expensive. Also creating duplicates was impossible unless one clicked with two cameras simultaneously. The Calotype provided stiff competition to the Daguerreotype.

The Calotype was a photography type invented by William Henry Fox Talbot. The earliest negative known to mankind also belonged to Talbot and dates back to 1835. Though the quality of the original 1835 negative was extremely poor especially when compared to the remarkable images produced by the Daguerreotype, by 1840 Talbot had made significant improvements to the image quality. Talbot used this method to publish a photographically illustrated book in 1844.

The Calotype method also allowed multiple prints to be produced of the same image. This was in fact the beginning of modern photography, as we know it. With Calotype photography becoming more and more popular many advances were made in the field of photography and it is today a multi-billion dollar industry.

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