The Birth of Photography. Lecture 1. The Camera Obscura. Abelardo Morell Light Bulb 1991. Ancient Knowledge. Aristotle is the first to describe the principle of the camera obscura when he uses it as an analogy to the way in which an image is formed in the eye. Aristotle, 384- 322 BC.
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Aristotle, 384- 322 BC
Jan Van Eyck probably used the camera obscura method to achieve difficult foreshortened perspective. The strongest evidence is in the reflection in the convex mirror on the back wall.
Arnolfini Wedding Portrait, 1434
A photographic reconstruction (right) of Vermeer's The Music Lesson (left) reveals
that a camera obscura may have been a part of the artist's process.
A page from David Hockney's book on the use of the camera obscura by the Great
Masters which juxtaposes the changes in which faces were painted during the
Renaissance and later by the Great Masters. The bottom two faces look more like
photographs than paintings.
Early Photographic Experiments obscura by the Great
Thomas Wedgwood, son of pottery
maker Josiah Wedgwood, experimented with light sensitive materials as early as 1805 and probably earlier. This image was made in the early 1800s or even late 1790s. Most of the images made by this process have been destroyed from exposure to light because they were not able to be fixed.
Joseph Nicephore Niepce created the first fixed photographic image, the “heliograph”, in 1824. The exposure time was about 8 hours. The heliograph was made on a pewter plate coated with asphaltum. Solvents were used to wash out the asphaltum that had not hardened due to exposure to light. Later, Niepce discovered that he could darken the shadow areas by exposing the plate to iodine fumes.
Hippolyte Bayard and his direct positive process obscura by the Great
Bayard claimed to have invented
the direct positive process before
either Daguerre or Talbot discovered
their processes. However, he never
made his process public and was
denied any credit for his invention until
later in his life.
He is credited with presenting the world’s first public exhibition of photographic prints on June 24, 1839.
The direct positive
process involved exposing silver
chloride paper to light, which turned
the paper completely black. It was
then soaked in potassium iodide
before being exposed in a
camera. After the exposure, it
was washed in a bath of
hyposulfite of soda and dried.
Exposures were very long (about 10-
Images were one- of- a- kind and
Could not be reproduced
Self Portrait As A Drowned Man
Direct positive print
William Henry Fox Talbot
David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson
France Scully, Light Mist
Mark Osterman, The Rhodes Incident
Mark Osterman and France Scully
are photographers and historians at the George
Eastman House in Rochester, NY. They practice
and teach many kinds of older photographic processes.
Mark Osterman, Fragen (Spain)
Irving Pobborofsky obscura by the Great
Jerry Spagnoli obscura by the Great