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A brief history...

I thought I’d offer a brief distraction from the world outside with this blog by providing some history regarding photographs.

A camera has been a routine addition to our phones for a while now and before that we used hand-held cameras with film – I’ll cover that in next month’s blog for those of you who don’t remember heading off to Boots to get your pictures developed – but what was there before that? Well, dear friends, read on to find out…

The history of the camera

Prior to the photographic camera, transferring a real-life image onto a flat surface was not a straight-forward task. The inventor, Leonardo da Vinci, was the first to detail a process to enable perfect perspective for drawing. This would later be known as Camera Obscura.

What? I hear you say, is a camera obscura…

In short, it’s a rather marvellous phenomenon where the image on one side is projected through a hole, whereby it lands on the surface opposite. The downside of this wizardry (until someone thought of angled mirrors) is that the initial images were upside down.

The term, camera obscura was coined way back in the 16th century and means ‘dark room’ in Latin. It was a huge box-shaped device, originally installed in a whole room or a tent. The dark was essential for the image to be clear.

This invention was game-changing because it allowed the user to trace lines and shapes from a projected image – rather than having to measure and work out the size of whatever it was they wanted to commit to paper or canvas.

Amazingly, it would take a hundred and fifty years for the German author, Johann Zahn’s idea, in 1685 of a handheld reflex camera, to become a reality.

Who invented photography?

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1765–1833) took the first photograph in 1827. However, his process required eight hours of exposure to light, and the picture was fuzzy.

The first photograph successfully taken was by Louis Daguerre in France and William Henry Fox-Talbot in Britain. The two men invented light sensitive photographic paper to produce their photographs.

Why didn’t the Victorians smile?

Because they had to stand or sit still for long periods of time in order for the image to be captured. The quickest process took fifteen minutes.

It’s no wonder then that the Victorians were rarely captured smiling.

For anyone interested in looking at the history of cameras and photography in general here are the common 19th Century photograph types & periods of popularity: -

· Daguerreotypes – 1839 - 1860

· Salt Prints (Talbot Process) – 1839 - 1860

· Albumen Prints – 1855 - 1890

· Carte de Visite – 1860 - 1890

· Ambrotypes – 1854 – mid 1860’s

· Tintypes – 1856 - 1900

· Cabinet cards – 1870 – 1890’s

· Hyalotype – 1875 – 1950’s

A little bit of trivia

The subject and photographer of the world’s first selfie is the American, Robert Cornelius. In 1839, Cornelius made what would be the first selfie in a very long line of gazillions to come. His image is deemed to be the first deliberate portrait of a human being – Ever!

I do love a selfie!

It’s a new year but not one I recognise...

COVID-19 arrived a year ago and man, what a year it has wreaked on the world. For so many people, 2020 was an incredibly challenging and difficult year with lives lost and livelihoods damaged, in some cases, irreversibly.

Resilience is perhaps the best word I can use to describe the people and businesses around me. I see them, on a daily basis, acknowledging the situation but determined in their attitude to look forward and plan for when life will return to whatever ‘normal’ will be.

May I end this first blog with well-wishes to you all for a safe and healthy journey through 2021.

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