Saturday, October 30, 2010

The French Started It!

Real photography began in the early 1800's, and it was in France that it happened. French inventor Nicephore Niepce produced the first photograph in 1822, a "photoetching" which was done using a camera obscura. Unfortunately, this image was destroyed when he tried to reproduce it. He was successful in 1826 with a permanent image, created using the camera obscura. However, he wasn't satisfied with the process, which took eight hours to develop. Together with Louis Daguerre (also French), he started experimenting with chemicals, based on an earlier discovery (by Johann Heinrich Schultz - Germany, 1816) that a mixture of silver and chalk would darken when exposed to light. Niepce died in 1833, but Daguerre carried on the work. He was finally successful with the chemical photographic process in 1837, and these early photographs were known as "daguerreotypes," since they were invented by Daguerre.
The first known photograph, or daguerreotype, of a person was taken in 1839 in Paris (shown above), and the inclusion of this person was rather inadvertant. This particular gentleman happened to be getting his shoes shined on the Paris street being photographed, and thus was still long enough to be clearly captured in the image (the process still took several minutes).

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