History of Photography
The word photography comes from the Greek "phos" and "graphis". These words combined can be loosely translated as "painting with light".
Photography is the process by which light patterns reflected off objects are recorded and fixed onto a receptive media, such as paper or in the case of digital photography, a memory card.
All modern cameras are based on the camera obscura. Camera obscuras were used as early as the 16th century and reflected light from an outside source into a dark chamber to display a scene on a wall or the inside of a box. Camera obscuras and the smaller camera lucida, were constructed for artistic purposes as the image could be traced aiding the artistic accuracy of a work. Camera lucida were used by artists preferably with dark paper and white pencil as use of white paper tended to blur the image.
The first photograph was created in1826 by Joseph Nicephore Niepce, a french inventor. He used a camera made by Vincent and Charles Chevalier, and captured the image on a polished pewter plate coated with a tarry substance called bitumen of Judea. Taking the photograph required 8 hours of exposure in bright sunshine. The parts of the plate that had the bitumen became hard when exposed to the sun, and when the plate was washed off the image appeared. This first technique failed in consistent success and so Niepce experimented with Johann Heinrich Schultz's discovery of silver and chalk mixtures. This mixture provided drastic contrasts on on photographic plates.
Niepce and artist Jacques Daguerre, experimented and refined Schultz's silver and chalk process together and, when Niepce died from a stroke, Daguerre was given all of his notes on the process. Daguerre made two discoveries: exposing the silver to iodine vapours before exposing it to light and then to the vapors of mercury after the photograph was taken resulted in an inactive image becoming visible. Bathing the plate in a salt fixative made the image permament. Daguerre went public with his silver on a copper plate process in 1839 and named it the Daguerreotype.
William Fox Talbot invented the calotype process in 1840 by studying Daguerre's work with silver, chalk and copper plates. Fox used silver chloride to cover sheets of paper to create the first known negative. Daguerre's process didn't allow for reprints but a calotype negative could be used to reproduce the image and make prints. Fox's process is the basic premise on which prints are made today.
In 1884 George Eastman, developed film and replaced the existing copper plate. In July of 1888 the Kodak camera was for sale to photographers and the Kodak Brownie became available to the public in 1901. Little has changed in chemical photography though color film has become the most widely used. The first successful color photo was taken by James Maxwell in 1861.