Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The First Photograph

Righto a quick History lesson...just to be a little different.
Source: Getty Images
It is often said that a Frenchman by the name of Joseph Nicephore Niepce, was the first to take the earliest known surviving photograph made by a camera in or around 1826.

The photo was taken from an upstairs window on his estate in, Le Gras, which is in the region of France called Burgundy perhaps more famous for its wines.
The scientifically minded young man, through his experimentation with Lithographic printing, lead him to invent the process known as Heliography due to his inability to draft images by hand. He spent time experimenting with light sensitive varnishes, however he faced a problem as he was unable to prevent the images from fading.

After a few years of experimenting further, finally in 1826 combing the chemical processes and the power of the camera, the successful quest for permanence all came together. He coated a pewter plate with the solution from his experiments which partly contained bitumen, and placed the plate into a camera that was looking outside his upstairs window.
f??, ISO??, Exposure 8 hours, B/W :)
After around 8 hours of exposure the plate was washed using a mixture of lavender, white petroleum and another substance which I can’t recall, dissolved away parts of the bitumen which had not hardened by the light exposure
The result was a permanent direct positive picture of the view from his window. Outbuildings, courtyard, trees and the general landscape as seen from his window.

This produced a one-of-a-kind photograph onto the pewter plate.

The interesting point note is that when we consider pre digital photography, i.e Film, that this early form of image capture did not involve the creation of an intermediate product such as a transparent negative or multiple printings on paper.

Instead it resulted in Niepce only being able to produce only a singular photograph with any exposure he made and because of the unique choice of using the pewter plate to expose onto, he could never make a duplicate of his image again.


Suggested reads: Photography the whole story , From Polaroid to the Impossible.