Historical facts about Photography: Let’s Take It From The Beginning


The word photography is originated from the old Greek words light and draw, as in drawing with light. The word, first used in the year 1839 by a scientist named John F.W. Herchel. It was a way capturing images onto a sensitive material with the aid lighted material or a similar radiation.

Pinhole Camera

In 1000AD, the respected optics inventor Alhazen created the very first pinhole camera and it helped explain as to why images would appear upside down. Sometime around the year 330 BC, it was questioned by Aristotle, what made the sun have the ability to make circular images when it only shined though a square hole. This question made pinhole cameras possible.

The Very First Photograph of all time

In 1827, it was Joseph Niepce who made the very first photograph with the likes of an obscura camera. Before this discovery, people generally used obscura cameras when viewing and drawing, not for photographs. Niepce's heliographics were given the name sun prints and they were a prototype for today's photograph. It was drawing with light.

Niepce did it by placing an engraving on a metallic plate which was covered with bitumen before exposing it to the light. All the white areas allowed the light to have a reaction to the chemicals on the metal plate, whereas the dark shadowy areas blocked the light. When the plate was placed in the solvent there was a visible image but gradually became invisible. The photograph was exposed to excessive light for 8 hours.

Louis Daguerre

Louis Daguerre, a Frenchman was also looking for some way to capture a picture. It took him many years before he managed to reduce the time of exposure to no more than about 30 minutes, at the same time keeping the picture from vanishing afterwards due to extreme exposure.

Modern Photography is Born

In 1982, Louis Daguerre joined up with Joseph Nepce to help enhance and speed up the process that he had already discovered in 1827. During 1839, after years of observing and experimenting, and then Niepce's death, Louis Daguerre had discovered a more practical and all round better technique taking pictures. He would name it after himself and call it the daguerreotype.

His method was very similar to Niepce's, it was, however, a different variety of chemicals that he used. Louis Daguerre polished a sheet of silver-plated copped before coating it with iodine to create a sensitive surface when it came down to the light. He then placed the plate in to a camera before exposing it for just a few short minutes and nothing more. The picture was dyed with the light and then would set the place into some silver chloride substances. This created an image that wouldn’t alter when it was exposed to tense light.

The rights for this were sold during 1839 by the son of Daguerre and Niepce to the government where it would later a book would be published that explained the process in detail. As you can imagine, the method became very popular quickly!

Negative to Positive Process

Henry Talbot was a mathematician and botanist who invented the very first negative that could produce positive prints.

He sensitized the paper to the light source with silver salt before exposing it to light. The subject matter was visible in the styling of gray and the background became black. It was seen as a negative image where it was taken with the paper negative that Talbot had created contact prints which reversed the lighting and shadowing to develop a full details picture. It was in 1984 when he perfected completely the paper negative process and later called it calotype, which is translates to “beautiful picture” from Greek.

Lets take a look at the Tintypes

In 1856, tintypes were patented and this helped serve the beginnings of photography. A thin layered sheet of iron was used as the base for the material made sensitive to light, which in return gave a positive image.

Negatives with Wet Plates

Wet plate negatives were invented by an English sculptor named Frederick Scoff Archer in 1851. With a elucidation of collodion, he covered some glass with the light sensitive silver salts used prior. Since it wasn't paper, but glass, the wet plate had developed a more efficient negative.

By now, photography had advanced now that materials could be coated on a glass plate instead of metal. The creation of wet plates needed to be very quickly as the emulsion was in danger of drying which meant the use of a moveable darkroom is required.

Hand Held Cameras along with your typical Dry Plate Negative

Dry plates were invented back in 1879. It was a negative glass play that has a dried up emulsion gelatin and they may be put in storage for a decent set of time. Portable darkrooms were no longer required as technicians could be hired to pursue the development of others photographs. The process was very quick by now which made hand held cameras a possibility.

The era of Roll Film

It was in 1889 that the first film given a base of which was flexible, with the capacity to be rolled, was invented by George Eastman. The process of emulsions being coated onto what’s knows as cellulose nitrate file made the boxed camera a true possibility.

Colored Photographs

In 1940, color films were entered into the market. The films were used the modern technology that dye implemented with their coupled colors from when a chemical reaction connected all three dye layers together into one to create a visible color image.