History of Photography | 4th Century AD – Present

31 March, 2011

The Daguerreotype photographic process was invented by Frenchman Louis Daguerre. Daguerre exposed a light-sensitive metal sheet which created a direct positive image. Exposure time took up to half an hour. It was a faster development than the process developed by Joseph Niepce. It was a disadvantage because it was expensive, slightly time consuming, and was portable, but one must carry the immersing salt. It also could not be duplicated. *Example of a photograph taken by this camera:

The Calotype Process was invented by William Fox Talbot. The subject would have been exposed onto light-sensitve paper, producing paper negatively. More effective, and duplicates could be made from the negatives. Unlimited duplicates could be made. The image quality was still not of great quality. *Example of a photograph taken by this camera:


Charles Archer invented the Wet Collodion Process (also known as the Wet Plate Process). Exposure time reduced to 2 or 3 seconds. Cost was significantly less than the Calotype Process. Plates exposed and developed immediately while the plates were still wet. The image was better quality than the previous processes, but were still produced on breakable glass. *Example of a photograph taken by this camera:


The Dry Plate Process was invented by an English physicist, Richard Maddox. His process of using gelatin instead of glass for a photographic plate is still the base of film today. It was easier to carry around, a cheaper process than it’s predecessors.

The first photograph of a human was taken by Robert Cornelious of himself (self-portrait) in either October or November of 1839. *The very first human photographed:

What is photo emulsion? Photo emulsion is a light-sensitive colloid (like gelatin) coated onto a substrate (coating; a covering that is applied to the surface of an object, usually referred to as a substrate).


Why did Eastman name his company Kodak? Eastman had said that the letter “K” was “a strong and incisive letter”. He wanted people to be able to pronounce it correctly, not mispronounce it. “it should be short, one cannot mispronounce it, and it could not resemble anything or be associated with anything but Kodak!” –Eastman.


Polaroid instant photography is a unique and interesting process. Invented by the Edwin Land (Polaroid Corporation), the camera self-generates instant film from the camera.  The first rolled film for the camera required photographers to read the light-level and set the exposure settings on the camera before taking the picture. The photographer focused on its subject(s) and took the picture. They would then pull a large tab to move the negative over the positive. The photographer would then wait until the picture developed from within the camera. Once developed, they would open a small ‘door’ in the back of the camera and peel off the positive to separate it from the negative. For the old Polaroids, the black and white positive had to be coated in a fixing agent in order to prevent fading. This later led to the creation of colourless development film. *Image of an old Polaroid camera:



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