LA -History of Photography

Louis Daguerre and the daguerreotype

Louis Daguerre was an artist from France who invented the daguerreotype and the diorama theater. By using a coating of bitumen of Judea (a light sensitive asphalt) he managed to create the first permanent camera photograph. Later he refined his methods to shorten the camera exposure time by exposing a thing silver-plated copper sheet to the vapor given off by iodine crystals. This produced a coating of light-sensitive silver iodine’s on the surface and it is what came to be known as the daguerreotype.

1280px-Boulevard_du_Temple_by_Daguerre_(unmirrored)This image was taken by Daguerre in 1838 in Paris. What’s fascinating to me about it is that it was supposedly a busy street, but because of the exposure having to continue for several minutes the moving traffic isn’t visible. Because the two people on the street were still long enough they were captured in the image. which makes this the “earliest known candid photograph of a person”.


Tintype “photos” were similar to daguerreotypes in size and enclosure (though their cases were usually less expensive). Tintypes were a kind of folk art and were often used by portraitists at parks, fairs and the like.

Tintypes were “produced by applying a collodion-nitrocellulose solution to a thin, black-enameled metal plate immediately before exposure.” The tintype was negative but because of the black plate it was exposed on made it appear positive.


Color Photographs

Color was introduced in the photographs in the 1840’s, but it faded quickly when it was exposed to light, however in 1861 the first permanent color photograph was taken. It was made using the “three-color-separation” – taking three three black and white photographs though red, green and blue filters – providing the photographer with the three basic channels required to recreate a color image.


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