World Photography Day 2021: A Brief History of Photography and the Camera

Many moments are preserved in our cameras and remain evergreen as the world is always changing. World Photography Day is an annual celebration of art, science, and history of photography. Every year on August 19th, it is commemorated to honour the art of photography.

This day is observed to encourage people who want to pursue photography as a hobby or a profession. Whether we are expert photographers or not, the camera has become a highly useful and enjoyable tool in our daily lives in the 21st century. World Photography Day brings individuals together who have a passion for photography while also raising awareness of the art form around the world.

History of Photography

Photography has always been more than just a technique of displaying an image on a screen. In 1826, French Joseph Nicephore Niepce took the first known permanent photograph of any object. It was, however, a long way from the camera technologies of today. Mr. Niepce took his first photograph, "View from the Window at Le Gras," with a handheld camera obscura that used heliography.

First photograph, by Joseph Nicephor Niepce. Joseph Niepce / Getty Images

Joseph Nicephore Niepce and Louis Daguerre collaborated in 1837 to invent the daguerreotype camera. The French Academy of Sciences officially endorsed the daguerreotype two years later, on January 9, 1839. After seven months, on August 19, 1839, the French government declared the creation of the daguerreotype a gift to the world. This is the reason World Photography Day began to be celebrated worldwide on August 19 each year.

Daguerreotype photography was invented by the French photographic pioneer Louis Daguerre (1789-1851), and was made public in 1839. In the Daguerreotype proces a picture made on a silver surface sensitized with iodine was developed by exposure to mercury vapour. Daguerre granted the right to make and sell daguerreotype cameras to a relative of his, Alphonse Giroux of Paris. Photography thus became available to the general public in 1839 and this was the first commercially available camera, which produced the first distinctive photographic positives. It took pictures 8.5 x 6.5 inches (21.6cm x 16.5cm), a size which became known as whole-plate when later cameras were built to take photographs a fraction of the size.
Daguerreotype camera, 1839 © National Museum of Science & Media / Science & Society Picture Library

History of Camera

The basic concept of photography has existed since the 5th century B.C.E., but it was not until an Iraqi scientist invented the camera obscura in the 11th century that the art of photography was formed. Even back then, the camera did not record images; instead, it projected them onto a different surface. The images were also inverted, but they could be traced to make precise representations of real-world objects.

The first camera obscura used a pinhole in a tent to project an image from outside the tent into the darkened area. The camera obscura did not become small enough to be portable until the 17th century. Around this time, basic lenses for focusing light were also introduced. The daguerreotype revolutionized the situation.

Wet plates, also known as emulsion plates, were less expensive than daguerreotypes and only required two or three seconds of exposure time. This made them ideal for portrait photography, which was the most prevalent application of photography at the time. Wet plates were used to make many photos during the Civil War.

In the 1870s, photography made yet another significant advancement. Richard Maddox expanded on a prior idea to produce dry gelatine plates that were nearly as fast and as good as wet gelatine plates in terms of speed and quality. Rather than making these plates as needed, they could be stored. This gave photographers a lot more leeway when it came to capturing photographs. Smaller cameras that could be carried in one hand were also possible thanks to the method. The first camera with a mechanical shutter was developed as exposure periods decreased.

Until George Eastman founded Kodak in the 1880s, photography was primarily available to experts and the wealthy. Eastman developed a flexible roll film that did not require the solid plates to be changed on a regular basis. As a result, he was able to create a self-contained box camera that could hold 100 film exposures. The camera had a single lens that could not be adjusted for focus. Much like modern disposable cameras, the consumer would take images and then return the camera to the factory to have the film developed and prints created. This was the first camera that was affordable to the average person. In comparison to today's 35mm film though, the film was still somewhat big. It wasn't until the late 1940s that 35mm film became affordable enough for most people to use.

Polaroid introduced the Model 95 around the same time that 35mm cameras were becoming popular. The Model 95 used a secret chemical method to develop film inside the camera in less than a minute. The novelty of instant photos drew the public's attention to this new camera, which was pretty expensive. By the mid-1960s, Polaroid had a variety of models on the market, and the price had come down to the point where even more people could afford them.

While the French pioneered the permanent image, the Japanese gave photographers more control over their images. The Asahiflex was produced in the 1950s by Asahi (which eventually became Pentax), and the Nikon F camera was released by Nikon in the 1960s. Both cameras were SLRs, with the Nikon F allowing for interchangeable lenses and other accessories. SLR-style cameras remained the camera of choice for the next 30 years. Both the cameras and the film itself received numerous upgrades.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, "point and shoot" cameras were introduced, capable of calculating shutter speed, aperture, and focus, allowing photographers to concentrate on composition. Casual photographers flocked to the automatic cameras in droves. Professionals and serious amateurs alike continued to prefer making their own changes and taking advantage of the image control offered by SLR cameras.

Several firms worked on cameras that stored images electronically in the 1980s and 1990s.

The first of these were digital point-and-shoot cameras that replaced film with digital media. By 1991, Kodak had developed the first digital camera that was capable of being used by professionals. Other manufacturers swiftly followed, and today powerful digital SLR (DSLR) cameras are available from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and other manufacturers.

"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving What you have caught on film is captured forever It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything Happy World Photography Day"

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