The history of photography seems to be a little obscured.  I don’t know the reasons for this neglect, nor do I much care.  I have taken a class and not knowing better at the time didn’t know to ask why we started with Daguerre, and Talbot’s announcements of being able to capture and image.  I’ve also read several books and some start with this duo as well while others start with Niepce.

Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1765-1833) used a pewter plate that he sensitized with bitumen of Judea which he dissolved in lavender oil, creating a photo-sensitve solution, applied a thin coat to a pewter plate.  He then was able to inhibit from further processing by rinsing with water.  The Bitumen would harden and the softer coating would wash away, thus capturing the permanent image.  He called the process drawing with the sun.  The process was an eight hour exposure in a small camera obscura.  The finished print was about 8 X 6 ½ inches.  I believe the process later came to be called a Heliograph.  Furthermore he is reputed to have done this in 1826

There was a collaboration between Niepce and Daguerre in 1829 which spurned an advancement of his process.  Henry Fox Talbot I believe progressed on his own having drawn of the work of John Herschel and Thomas Wedgewood.  Having completed his work but continuing to advance it in experiments he heard of Daguerre’s work and immediately presented his work to the Royal Institution in an effort to thwart Daguerre’s claim.  There was apparently a patent issue one being in England and the other in France.

The main things to note here,  that in my opinion

  1. Niepce lays claim to the first image


    Joseph Nicephore Niepce, View from his window at La Gras, 1827

  2. Daguerre’s process can be considered the Polaroid of the day. If created one image and that was it.   After some time and tweaking the process would be able to be used with shorter exposures and that would open the doors to portraits and other creative processes.

    Daguerre's first image

    Daguerre’s first image

  3. Henry Fox Talbot without a doubt needs to be created with creating the negative/positive process that has with stood the test of time. It is still the foundation of today’s photographic processes.

    Latticed window at Lacock Abbey, August 1835. A positive from what may be the oldest camera negative in existence

    Latticed window at Lacock Abbey, August 1835. A positive from what may be the oldest camera negative in existence

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