Society & Culture & Entertainment Photography

The History of Photographs

    Early Developments

    • Well before the development of photographs, it had been noticed that certain changes in color occurred in some materials exposed to the air and sun. However, the belief was that it was the air rather than the sun that caused this change. In the 1600s, Robert Boyle, a founder of the Royal Photographic Society, reported that silver chloride turned dark under exposure---again he thought it was the air rather than the sun that caused this. In 1727, Johann Heinrich Schulz discovered that certain liquids changed color when exposed to light.

    Developments in France

    • In 1827, Joseph Nicephore Niepce first developed a photograph, but it had to be exposed for 8 hours. In 1827, he went into partnership with Louis Daguerre. However, Niepce died four years later. Daguerre continued to experiment, and it was found that immersing the photographic plates in salt helped to fix the image. This was reported by Paul Delaroche, a scholar, and the French government bought the rights to the invention in July 1839. Details were made public, and the process was named the Daguerre type.

    Developments in England

    • The first paper negative was produced by William Henry Fox-Talbot in England in August,1835. It was very small in size and of poor quality. However, it was the precursor to much modern photography. The negative was of a window of his home in Lacock Abbey. He continued to improve his technique and was able to produce a book in 1844 that included some photographs. The advantage of Fox-Talbot's system was that numerous copies could be made of the image.

    Further Improvements

    • There were many problems with the early efforts in photography, but improvements followed fast. One of these was the Collodion process, produced in 1851, which made the development of photographs faster and cheaper. However, it was a wet process, where a viscous liquid made of gun cotton dissolved in ether and alcohol was used to coat the photographic plate. This made equipment difficult to transport. In 1871, Doctor Richard Maddox used gelatin instead of glass for the photographic plates. This was a real turning point, making the process easier and more portable. George Eastman developed flexible film in 1884, and four years later developed the box camera, making photography accessible to many more people.

    Some Reservations About Photography

    • Not everyone was happy about the development of photography. There were some objections on the grounds of superstition. Some objectors even argued that it was blasphemous to record images. Artists at the time were also concerned about the effects of photography on their livelihoods. Still, photography became an unstoppable craze, with 42 photographic establishments in London's Regent Street alone by the 1860s. There was an equal rate of growth in New York and throughout much of Europe.

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