The First Photograph

 
by Jerry Burchfield, The Great Picture in Hangar #115 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why were so many inventors of the late 1800s interested in developing photographic technology?

 

Heliographic plate

Joseph Nicephore Niepce, Heliographic plate, 1825.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daumier, Third Class Carriage, 1864.
Gustave Courbet, The Stone Breakers, 1849 - 1850.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Industrial Revolution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 with oil
Places semi-transparent print onto glass plate coated with bitumen of judea
Laid the plate in sun for several hours
Exposed bitumen hardened, soft bitumen washed away
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 an image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1839 Sir John Frederick William Herschel provides the final element necessary when he discovers that hyposulphite of soda will arrest the action of light, making photographic images permanent. His research is read to the Royal Academy in 1839.

Sir John Frederick William Herschel

 
Develops chemical recipe for 'hypo', which stops silver salts reacting with light, thereby fixing the image permanently
Hyposulphite of soda acts as a fixer, removing unexposed silver halide, and therefore preventing any further reaction to light
 
Later coins the term photography = light writing
and applies the terms "positive" and "negative"
 
 
Julia Margaret Cameron, Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1867.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daguerreotype process:

The Artist's Studio

“dah-gherr-oh-type,”

 
Silver-plated sheet of copper
Silver side placed down over box containing iodine
Iodine fumes react with the silver to create light sensitive silver iodide on the surface of the plate
Plate exposed in camera obscura for several hours
 
No image visible afterwards
Plate exposed to fumes from heated mercury
"Latent image" made visible
Plate bathed in strong solution of table salt
Halts the light sensitivity of the silver iodide
Plate washed in water
 
Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, Still Life in Studio, 1837. Daguerreotype.