History of Photography

  • What is Photography?

    What is Photography?
    A Short History and Evolution of Cameras
    Photography (from the Greek words photos for "light" and graphos for "drawing") is the practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either chemically (light-sensitive material such as photographic film), or electronically (image sensor).
  • The Camera Obscura (Ancient Times)

    The Camera Obscura (Ancient Times)
    The camera obscura projects an image of its surroundings on a screen. It inspired photography and the camera. It is box or room with a hole in one side, where light from an external scene passes through the hole and hits a surface inside, where it is reproduced upside-down, but with the same color and perspective.
  • First Photo-Sensitive Compound

    First Photo-Sensitive Compound
    Professor Johann Schulze mixes a solution of chalk and silver nitrate in a flask noticing that the side of the flask exposed to sunlight darkens, resulting in the accidental creation of the first photo-sensitive compound.
  • "Sun Pictures"

    "Sun Pictures"
    Thomas Wedgwood trys to make permanent pictures of camera images (using a durable and opaque surface/object with a light-sensitive chemical such as the silver nitrate on it). It results in silhouettes and other shadow images, but he can't make them permanent.
  • Negative Photographs and Photosensitive Paper

    Negative Photographs and Photosensitive Paper
    Nicéphore Niépce combines the camera obscura with photosensitive paper (paper coated with silver chloride) making negative photographs of camera images. Unfortunatly they darken all over when exposed to light for viewing.
  • The Oldest Surviving Camera Photograph (View from the Window at Le Gras)

     The Oldest Surviving Camera Photograph (View from the Window at Le Gras)
    Nicéphore Niépce makes what is now the earliest surviving photograph. It requires a very long exposure in the camera (at least eight hours, up to several days). He captured the scene with a camera obscura focused onto a pewter plate covered with a naturally occurring asphalt (Bitumen of Judea). The bitumen hardened in the brightly lit areas, but in the dimly lit areas it remained soluble and could be washed away.
  • Permanent Negative Images

    Permanent Negative Images
    William (Henry) Fox Talbot uses paper soaked in silver chloride (fixed with a salt solution) to create permanent (negative) images. He then created positive images by contact printing onto another sheet of paper.
  • The Daguerreotype Process

    The Daguerreotype Process
    Louis Daguerre introduces his daguerreotype process to the public (produces highly detailed permanent photographs on silver-plated sheets of copper). It required several minutes of exposure at first, but he later reduced the exposure time to a few seconds. Photography jumps into the public's awareness and his process is soon being used worldwide.
  • Calotype (Beautiful Impression)

    Calotype (Beautiful Impression)
    William Fox Talbot introduces his patented calotype paper negative process (using paper coated with silver iodide). Calotype comes from the Greek kalos, "beautiful", and tupos, "impression".
  • First Full Colour Photographs

    First Full Colour Photographs
    The first full-colour photographs are made by Edmond Becquerel, but they are so light-sensitive that they fade while being examined and an exposure lasting hours or days is required.
  • The Collodion Process

    The Collodion Process
    Photographic resolution was improved by Frederick Scott Archer with his collodion process. Wet plate collodion photography was much cheaper than daguerreotypes and permitted unlimited reproductions (the negative/positive process).
  • The Colour Separation Method

    The Colour Separation Method
    James Clerk Maxwell demonstrates colour photography. He uses three separate black-and-white photographs and projectes them through red, green and blue filters. Although the projected image is temporary, the set of three "colour separations" is the first durable colour photograph.
  • Gelatin Emulsion

    Gelatin Emulsion
    Richard Maddox invents the gelatin emulsion. We still use it in our photographic film (a strip of transparent plastic film coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion) today!
  • "Snapshot" Exposures

    "Snapshot" Exposures
    After Hermann Wilhelm Vogel discovered dye sensitization (allowing the photographic emulsions to be made sensitive to green, blue, yellow and red light), heat ripening of gelatin emulsions was discovered. This increased sensitivity and made very short "snapshot" exposures possible.
  • Do a Horse's Four Hooves Ever Leave the Ground at Once?

    Do a Horse's Four Hooves Ever Leave the Ground at Once?
    Eadweard Muybridge settles "do a horse's four hooves ever leave the ground at once" using a row of cameras with trip-wires. The pictures are taken at about 25 per second. Together they make brief real time movie that can be viewed by using a device such as a zoetrope (a photographic first).
  • Celluloid Film Base

    Celluloid Film Base
    Celluloid film base was introduced. The ability to produce photographic images on a more flexible material (instead of a glass or metal plate) was aa important step toward the advancement of photogrpahy and film.
  • The First Kodak Camera

    The First Kodak Camera
    The first Kodak camera (Kodak n°1 box camera, containing a 20-foot roll of paper, enough for 100 2.5-inch diameter circular pictures), is the first easy-to-use camera. It is introduced with the slogan "You press the button, we do the rest."
  • Advances in Film

    Advances in Film
    Louis Le Prince makes Roundhay Garden Scene, which is believed to be the first motion picture on film ever made (recorded at 12 frames per second and is 2.11 seconds long). It is the oldest surviving film in existence.
    1891 – "kinetoscopic" motion picture camera developed (designed for films to be viewed by oneperson at a time through a peephole window at the top of the device)
    1895 – cinématographe invented (motion picture film camera, which also serves as a film projector and developer)
  • Folding Pocket Kodak Camera

    Folding Pocket Kodak Camera
    Kodak introduces their Folding Pocket Kodak camera.Folding cameras were the dominating camera design from 1900 to 1945.
  • The Brownie

    The Brownie
    Brownie is a long-running popular series of cameras made by Kodak that were simple and inexpensive . It popularized low-cost photography and the concept of the snapshot.
  • "Wire-Photos"

    Arthur Korn helped develop telephotography technology (photographic images made into to signals that can be transmitted by wire to other locations). These "Wire-Photos" encouraged the development of fax machines and television.
  • Successful Color Photography

    Successful Color Photography
    The first commercially successful color photography product is due to the introduction of the Autochrome plate.
  • Single Lens Reflex Cameras

    Single Lens Reflex Cameras
    The First single-lens reflex camera (uses a mirror and prism system that allows the photographer to look through the lens and see exactly what will be captured) for 127 roll film came in 1933 called the VP Exakta.
    1935 - First built-in flash socket, activated by the shutter
    1936 - First SLR for 35mm film, the Kine Exakta.
  • Kodacolor

    The first color film that has negatives for making (chromogenic) color prints on paper is Kodacolor. The roll films were for snapshot cameras only until 1958.
  • Holography

    Dennis Gabor invents holography (a technique which enables three-dimensional images to be produced). The image changes as the position viewer changes, making it appear as if the object were actually there (making the image appear three-dimensional).
  • The Rapatronic Camera

    The Rapatronic Camera
    Harold Edgerton develops the Rapatronic camera (a high-speed camera that can record a still image with an exposure time as short as 10 nanoseconds/100 million frames per second). It was first used to photograph the rapidly changing matter in nuclear explosions.
  • Polaroid Instant Camera

    Polaroid Instant Camera
    Edwin H. Land develops the first Polaroid instant camera (a type of camera that generates its own developed film image).
  • Hasselblad Cameras

    Hasselblad Cameras
    The Hasselblad camera is introduced. The most famous use of thesecameras was when man first landed on the Moon (the Apollo program missions). Most of the photographs taken during these missions used (modified) Hasselblad cameras.
  • Standard Placement for Controls on SLRs Established

    Standard Placement for Controls on SLRs Established
    The first Asahi Pentax SLR is introduced. The Pentax placement of controls on the camera would become standard on 35 mm SLRs from all manufacturers (right-handed rapid wind lever, the bottom right mounted rewind release, etc.)
  • Scanning Photographs

    Scanning Photographs
    The first time a photograph is scanned onto a digital computer.
  • The First Fully Automatic Camera

    The First Fully Automatic Camera
    The first fully automatic camera, is introducedby AGFA called the Optima. This camera had a selenium cell which provided the power needed to read the light level for the automatic calculation of shutter speed.
  • First Mobile Phone With a Camera

    First Mobile Phone With a Camera
    J-Phone intorduces the first commercially available mobile phone with a camera that can take and share still pictures, called the J-SH04 available onlyin Japan.
  • Technology Today

    Technology Today
    Now we have highly advanced cameras available to the pubic that take HD pictures with ease, not to mention all the social media websites to share our works of art!