History Of Photography Term Paper


History Of Photography: From Ancient Times Into the Present Day Photography can be traced back to ancient times. Camera obscuras were "used to form images on walls in darkened rooms...via a pinhole" and the use of shadows (Greenspun 1999). This primitive technology remained unchanged until the 18th century. Then, one day, Professor J. Schulze mixed "chalk, nitric acid, and silver in a flask," which caused him to notice the "darkening on [the] side of [a] flask exposed to sunlight," leading to the "accidental creation of the first photo-sensitive compound" (Greenspun 1999). Nicephore Niepce followed by combining the camera obscura with photosensitive paper, creating the first permanent reproduction on paper and the first 'photographic' image in history (Greenspun 1999).

Technology advanced rapidly afterward, particularly after the innovations of Louis Daguerre who created images "on silver-plated copper, coated with silver iodide and 'developed' with warmed mercury (Greenspun 1999). Less involved methods of reproducing images included the process of using glass, rather than copper, to create images, and even less expensive methods evolved using iron and paper. The use of paper finally allowed photography to be transmitted to the masses ("History of 19th century photography," Photo Tree, 2010.).

The capacity of photography to provide a great service to humankind for its ability to record history became manifest during the American Civil War. At the time, "the process of taking photographs was complex and time-consuming," requiring one person to mix the chemicals for a clean glass plate that would then be "positioned and focused by the other photographer. Exposure of the plate and development of the photograph had to be completed within minutes; then the exposed plate was rushed to the darkroom wagon for developing....


Despite the challenges, many photographs were taken and remain as a recording of the catastrophic battles fought during the era.
Photography was regarded as a way of 'truthfully' portraying history and recording the human form for posterity in the 19th century, but gradually, with the growth of the Impressionist movement, the capacity of photography to be 'art' was realized. In the 1880s, Henry Peach Robinson was one of the first photographers to develop his own, distinct technique. Robinson "began focusing directly on the subject, letting the foreground and background be out of focus -- an approach that he felt more nearly approximated the seeing of the human eye" ("Early 20th Century Photography," Illinois State Museum, 2012). Later, Alfred Stieglitz advocated a "cleaner, sharper, and more straightforward form" of 'artistic' photography that used realistic, more spontaneous subjects and arrangements ("Early 20th Century Photography," Illinois State Museum, 2012).

Photography began to develop its own artistic language. Concepts such as depth of field, which "determines how much of an image is in focus in photography" enabled photographers to communicate their distinct point-of-view of a subject through conscious design (Masoner 2012: 4). Photography, thanks to the popularity of 'trick' photographs was no longer merely a record of reality, even for ordinary photographers. The use of techniques such as lighting or the 'rule of thirds' to understand how the viewer would apprehend the visual image became better understood. Today, photographers use a light meter "to measure the amount of light needed to successfully capture an image on film/sensor. Light…

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