Photography: An Illustrated History

Photography: An Illustrated History

Photography: An Illustrated History

Photography: An Illustrated History


Photography: An Illustrated History is a captivating account of how photography evolved from labor-intensive daguerrotypes in the mid-1800s to one of the most popular hobbies and respected art forms in the world today. Brimming with black-and-white and color photographs from throughout itsmultifaceted history, this volume not only documents technological developments, but also the phenomenal effect the craft has had upon journalism, industry, science, medicine, the military, and beyond. Featuring the accomplishments of pioneers such as Louis Daguerre, George Eastman, Julia MargaretCameron, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Margaret Bourke-White, and others, Photography: An Illustrated History presents an engaging history of photography through some of the most spectacular images ever captured on film.


Chapter One

A photograph is a kind of miracle. There is a picture of our mother exactly as she looked as a child. There, in another picture, is a scene of an event that helped shape the history of a nation, taken at the moment it happened. There, in yet another image, is a photograph created so artistically that it is a profound delight to see.

When photography burst upon the scene in the first half of the 19th century, people were amazed by the fact that they were suddenly able to view or even possess an exact likeness of themselves, their relatives, their friends, and the celebrities of their day. Looking back at that time, what is equally amazing is how rapidly the medium of photography advanced.Within only 50 years of its introduction, photographers not only had the ability to capture likenesses but were recording places and events around the world.They also had the means and the skill to produce photographs that were regarded as works of art.

The first official forms of photography were the daguerreotype and the calotype, or talbotype, as it was also called. They appeared in 1839 and 1841, but there had been an earlier achievement in recording a permanent image in a camera. In 1827, a French engineer and experimenter, Joseph Nicephore Niépce, had produced a small, crude but permanent positive image on a metal plate. However, his method did not use light-sensitive silver compounds, which are the basis of photography, and required an eight-hour exposure. It was far from being a practical process.

The daguerreotype was named after its inventor, the Frenchman Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre. His achievement was announced in January 1839 but was shown only to small invited audiences until August of that year, when Daguerre gave a public demonstration of the procedures.The calotype was invented by an Englishman, William Henry Fox Talbot, who showed some images and described a preliminary version of his process just three weeks after Daguerre made his accomplishment known, but he did not perfect it and release the details for another year and a half.

The calotype had much more importance for the future development of photography, but the daguerreotype produced far more beautiful, and technically perfect . . .

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