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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

History of Photography and the Camera

"Photography" is derived from the Greek words photos ("light") and graphein ("to draw") The word was first used by the scientist Sir John F.W. Herschel in 1839. It is a method of recording images by the action of light, or related radiation, on a sensitive material.

On a summer day in 1827, it took eight hours for Joseph Nicéphore Niépce to obtain the first fixed image. About the same time a fellow Frenchman, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre was experimenting to find a way to capture an image, but it would take another dozen years before he was able to reduce the exposure time to less than 30 minutes and keep the image from disappearing… ushering in the age of modern photography.

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, inventor of the first practical process of photography, was born near Paris, France on November 18, 1789. A professional scene painter for the opera, Daguerre began experimenting with the effects of light upon translucent paintings in the 1820s. In 1829, he formed a partnership with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce to improve the process Niépce had developed to take the first permanent photograph in 1826-1827. Niépce died in 1833.

After several years of experimentation, Daguerre developed a more convenient and effective method of photography, naming it after himself -- the daguerreotype. In 1839, he and Niépce's son sold the rights for the daguerreotype to the French government and published a booklet describing the process.

The daguerreotype gained popularity quickly; by 1850, there were over seventy daguerreotype studios in New York City alone.