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Photography Essay

1619 words - 6 pages

It is hard to find an aspect of the humanities that photography did not impact. Throughout all of history and the advancements made in technology photography has been used to do everything from prove a theory in science, to record a special event in a person’s life. In today’s modern world the impact of photography can be seen daily. Developments such as Photo identification, films, photojournalism, and thousands of other advances in life have all come from photography. Though all these aspects of photography are amazing in themselves, the true element of photography that made it such an impactful advancement in the humanities was its ability to capture a moment in time, and give the middle-class an understandable and relatively cheap new artistic medium.
Though the discovery that an image could reflect on to another surface came around in the early fifth century (Hirsh, 2000), it wasn’t until around the 1800’s that inventors started really trying to create something that both scientists and the middle-class could use to capture an accurate image of their subjects (Kleiner & Maymiam, 2005). During this period of time only the rich upper-class were able to capture images of their familes and important aspects of their lives through a type of art called realism. This technique involved many hours of painting and siting in one area for a long time, and was very expensive. Scientists were also having troubles with their studies because they had no accurate ways to record key discoveries, because of this, inventors realized that still photography would be an invention people would be willing to invest in. If they found a way to create a device that would capture images like a painting not only would they sell to scientists, they would also sell to photographers and other Americans looking to capture family portraits and create other forms of artwork by a cheaper means than the large investment that was realistic portrait painting. This would come to be a major step forward in the arts and sciences as a key role of the portrait painter was eventually replaced by the camera (Russel, 1993).
Though key philosophers and inventors such as Chinese Philospher Mo Ti (Hirsh, 200) and Leonardo da Vinci thought up ideas and even came up with drawings that supported the idea of capturing an image with a device, it wasn’t until 1786, when an inventor by the name of Gilles Louis Chretien combined cutout silhouette’s and engraving to create a machine called the physionotrace (Hirsh, 2000). Though this machine was not a camera, it did allow operators to trace a profile on to glass in about a minute and make multiple copies of that tracing (Hirsh, 200). This was the first recorded way that the middle-class could reproduce a version of what painters were doing for the upper-class in a way that was much cheaper. There were many attempts to create a machine that was able to actually capture an image over the years following the physionotrace, most of them to large or...

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