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Registered Office

LTD Photography
14 Hollyberry Close
Winyates Green
Redditch
B98 0QT
United Kingdom

Tel:   0845 481 8166
Fax:  0845 481 8177

The History of Photography

By LTD Photography

From Earliest Times, It may seem strange but cameras existed long before photography. It had been observed as far back as the fifth century BC that an image of the outside scene was formed by sunlight shining through a small hole into a darkened room. The phrase Camera Obscura means “Darkened Room”.

From 16th Century Camera Obscura was improved by utilising a simple lens.

1666 Isaac Newton Demonstrated that light is the source of colour. He used a prism to split sunlight into its constituent colours and another to recombine them to make white light.

1725 Johann Schulze Discovered the darkening of silver salts by the action of light.

1758 Dolland Developed the Achromatic telescope lens, this improved the camera obscura image.

1801 Thomas Young Suggested that the retina at the back of the eye contains three types of colour sensitive receptor, one sensitive to blue light, one to green and one to red. The brain interprets various combinations of these colours to form any other colour in the visible spectrum.

1802 Wedgwood Produced silhouettes of opaque objects by contact printing them on silver nitrate coated paper however the images were unfixed and faded in daylight.

1826 J. Nicephore Niepce Produced the first permanent image (Heliograph) using a camera obscura and white bitumen it required 8 hours to expose.

1829 Daguerre Started partnership with Niepce.

1834 Fox Talbot Experiments using Silver chloride coated paper to yield “negatives” of silhouettes.

1835 Fox Talbot Using his small “mousetrap” cameras he photographs the inside of his library window at Lacock Abbey, creating the first negative.

1837 Daguerre Following experiments on his own he evolved a workable process (Daguerreotype). Silver iodide coated copper plate was exposed and developed by mercury to give a single direct positive. He removed the remaining silver iodide with a warm solution of cooking salt, they took 30 minutes to develop.

1839 Daguerre Daguerreotype process released for general use in return for state pensions given to Daguerre and Isidore Niepce. Patented in England. On August 19th 1839 Argo announced details.

1839 Fox Talbot Hurriedly prepared and presented papers at the Royal Institution and the Royal Society. Unlike the Daguerre process the image is recorded as a “negative” and had to be printed via a similar process to produce the final “positive”. Many positive prints can be made from a single negative.

1839 Sir John Herschel Suggests fixing Talbot’s images in sodium thiosulphate and coined the terms “photography”, “negative” and “positive”.

1840 Fox Talbot Following suggestions he improved his process, using silver iodide and developing in gallic acid. The use of paper negatives meant that the images were not as detailed as Dagurreotypes.

1841 Fox Talbot Patented “calotype” (later “Talbotype”) a negative / positive process with 5 minutes exposure time.

1841 Petzval Mathematically calculated compound lens of f/3.6 effectively reduces Daguerreotype exposure to 1 minute.

1844 Fox Talbot Publishes “Pencil of Nature” the first book with photographic illustrations, glued in calotypes .

1847 Niepce De St. Victor Discovers the use of albumen to bind silver salts on glass base. Albumen process requires 10 minutes exposure. Talbot patents process in England.

1850 Blanquart-Evrard Proposes use of Albumen for printing paper. Albumen paper was never patented and was popularly used for 40 years.

1851 Scott Archer Proposes “Collodion” process. Collodion (a solution of nitrocellulose in a mixture of ethyl alcohol and ethyl ether) forms a binder for silver iodide on glass. Exposure and processing is performed immediately after coating plate. Scott Archer did not patent the process and died in poverty. Two versions of this process were “Ambrotype” and “Tintype” . Exposure was about 10 seconds . The Collodion process greatly expanded photography and brought everyone into contact with its results.

1861 James Clerk Maxwell Demonstrated the formation of colours by combining three light sources of red, green and blue. All other colours, including white, are a mixture of these primary colours. The colours combine by an additive process.

1868 Louis Ducos du Hauron Published a book suggesting how a range of colour photographic methods might work, but they could not yet be put into practice.

1871 Dr. Richard Leach Maddox Writing in the ‘British Journal Of Photography’ he suggested gelatin, derived from a protein found in animal bones, as a collodion substitute. Gelatin “Emulsions” and “Dry Plates” were marketed by various manufacturing companies from 1878, and gelatin is still used today. Exposure times of 1/25th second could be achieved.

1887 Hannibal Goodwin New York clergyman filled patent for roll film with a flexible plastic base

1888 George Eastman Produced the first simplified camera system for the general public, The Kodak Number 1, and the first mass Developing and Processing service.

1889 George Eastman Produced the first transparent roll film (nitrocellulose)

1889 Thomas Edition Slit the 2 3/4 inch Kodak roll film down the middle making it 1 3/8 inch (35mm) and put transport perforations down each side – to become the international standard for motion picture film.

1890 Hurter & Driffield Devised the first independent system to give emulsions speed numbers, this essentially led to the current ISO numbers on film boxes today.

1890’s The first halftone photographic reproductions appeared in daily papers, although it took another ten years before the process was fully adopted. Halftones were created by using a camera containing a ruled glass screen with a grid pattern to break up the image into tiny dots of different sizes.

1904 Dr. H. Vogel Research lead to panchromatic film using sensitising dyes. This type of film is sensitive to all visible colours.

1904 Augusta and Louis Lumiere Patented “Autochrome” the first additive colour screen film material.

1912 Siegrist and Fischer The two German chemists invented the action of colour coupling , so dyes required for colour film processing could be created by combining appropriate developer oxidation products with colour former chemicals. However the process was not reliable enough to start film production.

1924 Oscar Barnack An employer of E. Leitz designed a camera for use with a microscope using motion picture film, this became the first precision 35mm camera. It was called the Leica derived from Leitz camera. The capabilities of the Leica made a new form of photojournalism possible, as typified by the Magnum photographic agency.

1935 Kodak Mannes and Godowsky helped develop Kodachrome for home movies, the following year it was introduced in 35mm format.

1936 Agfa This German company was the first to sell a film, Agfacolor, with the colour formers in the film. Towards the end of the second World War their closely guarded secrets were “liberated”.

1940s Large factory size laboratories took over film processing from individual chemists. However chemists still continued to sell films.

1947 Magnum Magnum, arguably the most famous photographic agency in the world, was founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and Robert Capa. The agency developed a style of photojournalism that was largely based upon the capability of the Leica 35 mm camera. Magnum is still an exclusive club of illustrious photographers with membership limited to thirty six.

1947 Dr. Edwin Land Invented an “instant” picture process, first called Polaroid Land. The special camera sandwiched the exposed negative with a receiving positive paper and spread the processing chemicals between the two, after processing these were peeled apart.

1963 Dr. Edwin Land His Polaroid Corporation’s research team invented the first instant colour picture material.

1976 Canon AE-1 the first 35mm camera with built in microprocessor is introduced

1980s A system called DX coding was introduced for 35mm films. The cassettes have an auto-sensing code printed on them which enable certain cameras to automatically set the film speed, this information can also be used by processing laboratories.

1984 Canon Demonstrated the first digital still camera.

1985 Minolta The Minolta 7000 auto-focus 35mm SLR camera was introduced

1990 Microsoft Windows 3.1 is released

1990 Adobe Adobe Photoshop 1.0 image manipulation program is introduced for Apple Macintosh computers

1992 Tim Berners-Lee Develops the software and protocol for the World Wide Web (WWW)

1993 Adobe Adobe Photoshop is made available for MS-Windows computers.

1993 NCSA Release the first World Wide Web browser.

1994 Netscape Launch their WWW browser called Navigator.

1996 APS Advanced Photo System (APS) is introduced. APS uses a cassette which holds 24 mm wide film on a base which has a magnetic data strip as well as fine grained emulsion. When the film is being developed automatic handling mechanisms locate the correct frames and determines the required print format from the data strip. After processing the film is rewound into the cassette and a digitally mastered index print of all the frames is created as a reference for reordering.

1996 Microsoft Release their WWW browser called Internet Explorer.

1998 The first consumer megapixel cameras were introduced.

2000 Canon Canon introduced the EOS D30, the first digital SLR for the consumer market with a CMOS sensor

2000 Sharp and J-Phone In November 2000 Sharp and J-Phone introduced the first camera-phone in Japan. The J-SH04 is a mobile phone with a built in camera, it uses a 110,000-pixel CMOS image sensor and began the trend for camera-phones. These cameras play an increasingly significant role in photography, for example the main news pictures covering the 7 July 2005 London bombings were taken by the general public on camera-phones and not by professional news crews. However the use of camera-phones can also be abused leading to invasions of privacy and other forms of socially unacceptable behaviour.

2002 Contax Contax introduced the NDigital the first SLR digital camera with a CCD the same size as a 35 mm frame.

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