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History of Photography

There is a standard philosophy saying, once a moment is gone, it is gone forever. Some lifetime moments are worthy staying around indefinitely. Photography inventions turned cocktail parties, trips to the beach, sunsets and picnics at the parks into relivable events captured in memory. In the early 1800’s, a French physicists, Joseph Niepce began experimenting with the camera obscura. He took these ideas to French artists, Daguerre. “A partnership was formed and they collaborated until Niepce’s death in 1833, after which Daguerre continued their work for the next six years.

In 1839 he announced the invention of a method for making a direct positive image on a silver plate—the daguerreotype. ” (“Photography, Still”) The popularity of photography flourished. Victorians collected decorative ornaments popularizing photography. Had it not been for the relationship of artists Louis Jacques MandE. Daguerre and physicists Joseph Niepce, photography may not exist today. “The French physicist, Joseph Niepce, made the first negative (on paper) in 1816 and the first known photograph (on metal; he called it a heliograph) in 1826. “(“Photography, Still”).

Niepce was the original inventor of photography but is accredited to Daguerre, called Daguerreotype. Information describing his artwork before photography invention is rare. Daguerre received recognition as an artist only after he used precise parallel lines and measurements, and various methods of shades light to perfect photographic images. The camera obscura primarily used sunlight reflecting transparent images. Daguerre would later apply his expertise of the parallel lines he used as an artist to the camera obscura’s sunlight reflections on images, making photography a demanded product.

All modern camera’s production of precise images automatically use lines, measurements, shadowing, axels and pixels. Procedures making cameras work were taken from studying the universe and astronomy. Polaroid cameras are associated with the lines and axels from the north and south poles. Niepce thought of genius photographic ideas but lacked technical experience to successfully manufacture his inventions. Niepce began to experiment with his photographic ideas making several failed attempts to increase the speed at which photos could be produced. The lines were faded smudging the images into unrecognizable figures.

Niepce’s efforts failed because of the wrong choice of chemicals when experimenting with negatives. The chemicals did not darken fast enough to increase the volume the copies of images produced by the camera obscura. Niepce used carved images on copper, substances to thick to increase number of images produced in less time. Daguerre replaced the copper with paper products, now called negatives. (Trachtenberg, 1980). Even with today’s technical advancement, the slightest error in handling the negatives can ruin the images. Sensitive negatives cannot be touched, must stay at a controlled temperatures, avoid light until the film is developed.

Daguerre worked with fragile material, imprinting negative prints on copper and metallic surfaces. Daguerre discovered a way to produce photos 60-80 times faster. The business was named Daguerreotype. Daguerreotype was a huge success everywhere but England. Unknown to them, a British scientist, William Henry Fox Talbot have been secretly working on photography development for years. They had similar ideas, but the process was different. Talbot was experimenting with duplicating negative paper images taken from positive paper.

Instead of repeating the entire process of developing identical images each time, Talbot found a way to keep images to duplicate in the future. (“Photography, Still”) All three pioneers, Niepce, Daguerre, and Talbot, along with Sir John Herschel —who in 1819 discovered the suitability of hyposulfite of soda, or “hypo,” as a fixing agent for sensitized paper images and who is generally credited with giving the new medium its name—deserve to share the title Inventor of Photography (“Photography, Still”) Although they had some conflicts, and copyrighted their inventions legally protecting their interests, it appears the rivalry was short lived.

The British scientist, Talbot copyrighted his invention with the French government. Both Talbot and Daguerre independently patented their ideas. Eventually the French government purchased the rights from the trio, making the photography development available to everyone. Making cameras and photography available to the general public, opened opportunities providing assistance to the needy. Allen Sekula and Lewis Hines used photography for professional reasons, to spread awareness to the general public hoping to resolve poverty in low income neighborhoods.

Hines, is concerned with New York ghettos; Sekula is more concerned with child labor or child slavery. Hines believes photos speak for themselves. Sekula argues that unless the photos are explained to people, the point is missed entirely. “Sekula is critical of the modernist art discourse for failing to acknowledge that the meanings of photographs are contextual, but having acknowledged this condition himself, he wants to overcome it”(Eisinger 263) Modern uses of cameras and photography primarily brings entertainment into everyone’s lives. Niepce, Daguerre, and Talbot had no idea photography would become major influence in everyone’s life.

Photography was highly successful because the trio worked out conflicts, combined two great concepts with similar objectives.

Works Cited

“Photography, Still. ” The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2007. Questia. 17 Mar. 2008 <http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=112879573>. Baldwin, Gordon. Looking at Photographs: A Guide to Technical Terms. Malibu, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991. Eisinger, Joel. Trace and Transformation: American Criticism of Photography in the Modernist Period. 1st ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. Questia. 17 Mar. 2008 <http://www.questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=56861807>. Jeffrey, Ian. Photography: A Concise History, World of Art. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1981. Miller, Carl W. Principles of Photographic Reproduction. New York: Macmillan, 1942. Questia. 17 Mar. 2008 <http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=6550665>. Newhall, Beaumont. Photography A Short Critical History. 2nd ed. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1938. Questia. 17 Mar. 2008 <http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=30377393>. Trachtenberg, Alan, ed. Classic Essays on Photography. New Haven: Leetes Island Books, 1980.

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