Cameras; we take them on trips, to sports events, to concerts, to birthday parties, and we even take them to outings with our friends. The invention of the camera didn’t just develop in a few years but through decades of research and evolution of optics and photographic processes.
Al-Haytham, or Alhazen in Latin, was born in A.D. 965 in Basra, which is located in present-day Iraq. Later, he moved to Egypt and began to develop scientific writings on the camera obscura, how the human sight works, how light goes through water, and how to solve for an angle of a reflection from a beam of light. His writings helped bring knowledge of optics to Europe (Cox).
Leonardo da Vinci and Johannes Kepler were only two of some of the most famous Renaissance thinkers who used Alhazen’s writings on the obscura in their studies. The camera obscura continued to improve throughout time, and in 1568 Daniel Barbaro, a nobleman of Venice, Italy, developed a way to get sharper, clearer images by inserting a lens made of glass into the camera’s opening. Later, fellow Italian and scientist, Girolamo Cardano, further explained Barbaro’s idea by using a biconvex lens (Cox).
In 1686, Johann Zahn was a monk who described and wrote about many portable cameras that used lenses and mirrors. The box that was used could capture an
image that appeared right-side up to its viewers however, people still had to trace the images that the camera produced (Cox).
The first known photograph was taken in Gras, France, in 1826. The photo was the view from a second story window in the home of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Niépce was born in 1765 and survived the French Revolution. In his early photography experiments, he used paper that was soaked in a solution of silver chloride, which made the paper turn a darker color when exposed to light. The photo took over eight hours of exposure. A second chemical treatment was used to stop the exposure and fix the image properly on the paper.
In 1829, Niépce made a partnership with Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre. Sadly, in 1833, Niépce died but Daguerre continued on and further experimented with photography. Building on Niépce’s previous work, Daguerre found a way to shorten the exposure time of a photo and he also found new chemical treatments to make the photo have a sharper image. Daguerre announced his first working photography system in 1839. In that same year, Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot debuted his calotype photographs (Cox).
Both Daguerre and Talbot made huge movements in the photography world. The way the photos were made from Daguerre’s system was called Daguerreotypes. Daguerreotypes used metal plates, which made each photo an original every time. This type of photography was the most popular and dominated early photography partly in thanks to a compromise with the French government. While Talbot
patented his system, the French government paid Daguerre for the rights to his system...