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Archive for the ‘History of Photography’ Category

In exploring photography I have come to realize that its history is equally as important as the ability to produce an aesthetically appealing photo and so I will continue to add historical information about photography on this blog.

Back when I first became interested in photography I believed that astrophotography would be my passion.  When I purchased my first film camera, part of the reason I choose the Nikon FM2 was because it was supposed to be good for astrophotography.  Unfortunately I never took many astrophotos. I was disappointed that my results were not equal to what I could find in books, and so I never pursued that avenue of photography.

Once I started exploring photography’s history, it only made sense for me to look into the history of astrophotography. In looking into it I found the first photo of earth ever taken from space, Earthrise. Thankfully NASA generally does not copyright their images and grants permission to use their photos so long as they are credited, as noted here. When I look at Earthrise I am amazed by many things: the historical importance of this photo, the amazingly sharp image considering it would have been taken through the window of Apollo 8, and the ironic serenity that it instils.  I say ironic serenity, because I can only imagine the calm of being one of only 3 people seeing this view for the first time ever. Yet the image is of a world that in the previous 12 months suffered many tragedies. These included suffering from an earthquake that either injured or killed almost 500 people, a war that killed thousands of people, and the assasination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

What do you think of when you look at this photo?

Earthrise - Apollo 8 courtesy of NASA (December 29, 1968)

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The first photograph

View from the Window at Le Gras, by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce 1826

The above photo is credited as being the first photograph ever made.  According to The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook 8th Edition by Aaron Sussman, it took eight hours to expose.

When I look at the above photo, the image itself does nothing for me as it is simple, and lacking in detail.  But when I stop and think about the photo’s history, my experience is very different.  With this perspective I wonder about Joseph and why he choose this particular spot for the first photograph. The photograph suddenly has impact.  I’m sure at the time he didn’t realize the importance it would hold in history.  Instead he was probably simply trying to help out his son, who was a painter, by providing a way to hold an image permanently.

I also wonder how many photographers know of this image.  You don’t need to know of this image, or it’s historical importance in order to produce stunning photographs.  However this photograph is historically important, and I believe should be known to all who choose to call themselves photographers, or photo enthusiests.

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