first permanent photo1826: First Permanent Image
French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce uses a camera obscura to burn a permanent image of the countryside at his Le Gras, France, estate onto a chemical-coated pewter plate. He names his technique "heliography," meaning "sun drawing." The black-and-white exposure takes eight hours and fades significantly, but an image is still visible on the plate today.
First photo of a person1839: First Photo of a Person
In early 1839, French painter and chemist Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre photographs a Paris street scene from his apartment window using a camera obscura and his newly invented daguerreotype process. The long exposure time (several minutes) means moving objects like pedestrians and carriages don't appear in the photo. But an unidentified man who stops for a shoeshine remains still long enough to unwittingly become the first person ever photographed.
First Arial view1858: First Bird's-Eye View
Felix Tournachon, better known by the nom de plume Nadar, combines his interests— aeronautics, journalism, and photography— and becomes the first to capture an aerial photograph in a tethered balloon over Paris in 1858.
First colour photo1861: First Color Photo
The enormously influential Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell creates a rudimentary color image by superimposing onto a single screen three black-and-white images each passed through three filters—red, green, and blue. His photo of a multicolored ribbon is the first to prove the efficacy of the three-color method, until then just a theory, and sets the stage for further color innovation, particularly by the Lumißre brothers in France.
First action photo1878: First Action Photos
English photographer Eadweard Muybridge, using new emulsions that allow nearly instantaneous photography, begins taking photograph sequences that capture animals and humans in motion. His 1878 photo series of a galloping horse, created with 12 cameras each outfitted with a trip wire, helps settle a disagreement over whether at any time in a horse's gait all four hooves leave the ground. (They do.) It also causes a popular stir about the potential of cameras to study mov
First colour underwater photo1926: First Underwater Color Photo
Ichthyologist William Longley and National Geographic staff photographer Charles Martin use an Autochrome camera and a raft full of explosive magnesium flash powder to illuminate the shallows of Florida's Dry Tortugas and make the first undersea color photographs. The photos, which show reef scenes with fish, are published in the January 1927 National Geographic.
First photo from space1946: First Photo Taken From Space
Researchers with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory strap a 35-millimeter camera to a German V-2 missile and launch it into space from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The camera snaps a picture every second and a half as the rocket ascends to 65 miles (105 kilometers) above the surface. The camera falls back to Earth and slams into the ground, but the film, contained in a steel cassette, is unharmed. The developed photos are the fi
first photo-map of night sky1949-'56: First Survey of the Night Sky
National Geographic teams up with the California Institute of Technology for the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey, a seven-year project to produce the first photographic map of the Northern Hemisphere's night sky. The work is done at the Palomar Observatory in California using "Big Schmidt," a new, 48-inch (122-centimeter) camera telescope. The result is a comprehensive study of the heavens that leads to the discovery of many new stars and galaxies and is st
First magazine to print all in colour1962: First All-Color
After decades of pioneering color photography technology, National Geographic magazine introduces a new era in February 1962, becoming the first major American periodical to print an all-color issue. The magazine goes on to publish more color in its editorial pages throughout 1962 than any other major magazine in the country.
First digital still camera1991: First Digital Still Camera
Kodak releases the first commercially available, professional digital camera in 1991. This device, extremely expensive and marketed to professional photographers, uses a Nikon F-3 camera body fitted with a digital sensor. Over the next five years, several companies come out with more affordable models, and today, the market is overwhelmed with thousands of digital still camera models.