History of Photography – Humanities Essay
The Early Days – Photography was first used by Sir John Herschel in 1839. This was also the year the photographic process was made public. Prior to 1839 about ten individuals had tried to make a photograph, however only four were successful. They were: Joseph Nicephore Niepce, Louis J.M. Daguerre, Hippolyte Bayard and William Henry Talbot from England. All of them used
techniques which had been known for some time but hadn’t before been successful. The first technique was optical.
Scientists had previously discovered that light passing through a small hole in a darkroom projects an inverted image on the opposite wall. The hole was replaced by something which makes the image sharper and brighter. This was called a lens. By the eighteenth century the dark room was replaced by a portable box. The next technique was chemical. During 1727, Johann Heinrich Schulze found out that the right chemicals turned dark when exposed to light. The first attempt to use these chemicals to make the image was unsuccessfully made by Thomas Wedgwood in the 1800s.
The Daguerreotype which was bought by the French and made public on 19 August 1839, produced a picture on metal. In comparison the Calotype, which was invented by Talbot in 1840, produced a negative photo on paper. A positive of the picture was made on a sheet of chemically sensitized paper. This was an advantage because any number of positives could be made from the one negative.
Frederick Scott Archer’s process substituted glass for Talbot’s method. The mass production of Albumen Prints of very fine detail was possible. Until 1880 this method was in popular demand for portraits and strange places. Most of the 19th century photographs were in this category.
THE MODERN CAMERA
The Kodak camera which was first introduced in 1888 caused huge changes to the world of photography. The camera was preloaded with film for up to 100 photos. When you finished the film, the whole camera was returned to the factory were the film was developed, printed and the camera was reloaded. The camera cost just $1.00, while each roll of film was only 10 cents. The first optical range finder came onto the market during 1916.
The Super Kodak 620 was introduced in 1938. This was a very expensive snapshot camera because the exposure control method was fully automated. World War II however stopped production of these cameras. The process of automatic functions on most cameras was completed in the late 1970s. This was when the first generation of “point and shoot” cameras appeared to the general public. These cameras were so easy to use even a beginner photographer could take decent pictures.
Imaging with photographs began with the invention of a large box where light could produce images. Photography itself began with photographers inserting silver coated glass plates into large boxes. They discovered that chemicals reacted with the silver plates that could create an opposite image when treated with other various chemicals. Using specialized paper with more chemicals could produce the positive photographs. Many of the pictures of Abraham Lincoln were produced through this time-consuming process. It became necessary for many photographers to find a simpler process. The next major step in photography was the invention of film. A lot of the early processes still used today employed the loading of large cameras with large amounts of film.
During World War II cameras became more like they are today. The single lens reflex allowed photographers more opportunity to focus and choose images that were in the distance. The Polaroid camera was invented around the 1960s and this made it even easier for the hobbyist by having one sheet of paper, which could be pulled out and developed instantly after the photo was taken. Silicon chips were added to the cameras and this automatically controlled the shutter speed, focus and lighting. Around the 1980s nearly every home had at least one camera. Today, the choices of camera for both the amateur and professional are endless, from expensive for the professionals to the disposable camera. Digital cameras are also available. They produce images ready for web sites and are also instant so you can view the photo you just took on the LCD screen. Most photo developers offer a choice of either prints, slides or on a CD-Rom so you can edit your photos taken with a digital camera.