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History of Photography

Nicephore Niepce History of photography camera obsucra (Leondardo Da Vinci) Photography was not invented earlier then the 1830’s. It started with two distinct scientific processes but not until they were combined together did it make photography possible. The first process was ‘camera obscura’ which is the dark room; the dark room had been in existence for at least four hundred years.

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There is a drawing of a ‘camera obscura’ (dark room) by Leonardo Da Vinci, dated 1915.

The second process was chemical, this process has been known for hundreds of years before photography had been invented, yet they had not known the difference between heat, air and light. First photograph developed by Nicephore Niepce Many people had tried to experiment with different chemicals and liquids to produce a permanent image. Some of these people include Robert Boyle (1600s), Angelo Sala (17th century), Johann Heinrich (1727) and Thomas Wedgwood (19th century).

Finally on the 4th of January 1829; Nicephore Niepce produced the first successful picture using material that hardened on exposure to light, but the picture required eight hours of exposure. Thus began the journey of photography. Niepce than agreed to go into partnership with Louis Daguerre in 1829 but then Niepce passed away 4 years later but Louis Daguerre continued to experiment’. Daguerre than discovered a way of reducing the exposure time from 8 hours to ? an hour, and he also discovered how to keep a image permanent by immersing it in salt.

This discovery was made public on the 19th of August 1839 and it was named ‘Daguerreotype’. As much joy this new discovery made, it also was an uninvited invention and not all people welcomed this exciting discovery. Some ‘Pundits viewed it in quite sinister terms’ and some artists at the time saw photography as a threat to their work and ‘livelihood’. The Daguerreotype was very expensive and each picture was a one off and could not be repeated, and if there is a need for two copies, two cameras would be side by side. This was not seen as a disadvantage as it meant that the ‘owner had a piece of art that could not be duplicated’.

Alas! There was a rival, In 1835 the “Calotype” was invented by William Henry. By 1851 a new era in photgraphy was introduced by Fredrick Scott Archer. He introduced the Collodion process, which reduced exposure time to 2 or 3 seconds. Finally in 1871 the next major discovery was made by Dr Richard Maddox, he discoverd the use of the dry plate. This dry plate meant that the a dark room tent was no longer needed or a cumbersome wet- plates. Photography was finally made much more accesible. This was the beginning of years and years of artistic creativity, memories and a new era to a look into the past.