The First Photograph

 
Jerry Burchfield, The Great Picture in Hangar #115 at El Toro Marine Corps Base, Irvine, CA, 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography = light writing
Three things needed to create a photograph:
1.
Optical device that can control light
2.
Chemical process that can reproduce the effects of light on a surface
3.
Chemical process that can fix light (the image) permanently
Eventually, a means of producing multiples of the image becomes desirable
Sunlight Through Trees at Dawn, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Chemical Reproduction of the Effects of Light

 

construction paper and photo exposed to sun for thirty years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1800 Thomas Wedgwood is first known inventor to attempt
to record the effects of light with a camera obscura
"sun pictures"
 
  • Placed objects on leather sensitized with silver nitrate
  • Quickly turned shades of gray when exposed to light
  • Realized that the similar reaction would happen if paper placed against the inverted projection inside a camera obscura
 
  • Wedgwood could not permanently fix the image - the silhouettes had to be viewed with minimal light andstored in a light tight environment
 
  • Although none of Wedgwood's sun pictures survive, Anna Atkins's later cyanotype images provide an example of what such an image looked like
 
Anna Atkins, Cyanotype photogram of Papaver Rhoeas, 1845.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography = light writing
Three things needed to create a photograph:
1.
Optical device that can control light
2.
Chemical process that can reproduce the effects of light on a surface
3.
Chemical process that can fix light (the image) permanently
Eventually, a means of producing multiples of the image becomes desirable
Sunlight Through Trees at Dawn, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. The Chemical Fix

 

Niecephore Niepce

Portrait of Joseph Nicephore Niepce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lithographic negative and positive print

 

The Lithographic Process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1816
Niepce produces first "heliographs"
Images quickly disappear because the light sensitivity of his chemicals are not stopped/fixed
1822
Niepce discovers that bitumen of judea bleaches and hardens when exposed to light (light sensitivity stops because the substance hardens)
 
bitumen of Judea = form of asphalt, used by etchers to coat metal plates before drawing upon them with a stylus
  • Niepce makes paper of a lithographic print transparent by coating it with lavender oil
  • Places semi-transparent print onto glass plate coated with bitumen of judea
  • Laid the plate in sun for several hours
  • Exposed bitumen hardens while unexposed bitumen remains soft and washes away with water
  • Creating permanent image transfer using light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bitumen of Judea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isaac Briot, Portrait of Cardinal d'Amboise, c. 1650.  Engraving
Niepce's heliographic image
Nicephore Niepce, Copy of Engraving of Cardinal d'Amboise, 1826, Heliographic print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1826 Niepce begins experimenting
with pewter plates

 
  • Coated pewter plate with bitumen of judea
  • Placed plate inside camera obscura sitting on a window sill
  • Estimated exposure time of 8 to 10 hours,
    possibly as long as 20 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Joseph Nicephore Niepce, View from His Window at Le Gras,
c. 1826. Heliograph.
Re-photographed with silver gelatin in the 1950s.

 

 

Niepce's original image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I must now do three things: (1) give more sharpness to the representation of the subject; (2) transpose the colors; and (3) fix them permanently, which will not be the easiest of the three." - Joseph Nicephore Niepce
Joseph Nicephore Niepce, View from His Window at Le Gras, c. 1826. Heliograph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter Daguerre...

 

Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daguerre's diorama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1829 Daguerre and Niepce agree to share all knowledge, honor and profit from their collaborative invention

silver nitrate

Silver Nitrate

1831 Daguerre discovers that silver iodide is more light sensitive than silver nitrate
1833 Niepece dies of a stroke
1834

Daguerre experiments with new process using silver iodide

  • Uses professional camera with quality lens
  • Uses silver-plated sheet of copper sensitized with silver iodide
  • Reduced exposure time to 20 to 30 minutes
1835 - 1839 Daguerre succeeds in permanently fixing a photographic image exposed in a camera obscura