Saturday, 9 November 2013

How old is photography?

I read an online article not long ago, about the American Civil War, it contained some quite harrowing photographs of the period but what really caught my attention were some comments below. 

Several people observed that they simply hadn't realised photography went back that far, this surprised me because old photographs have always fascinated me and I know photography goes back a lot further than the 1860's.

The American Civil War was simply the first major conflict to be comprehensively photographed.

Engineers of the 8th New York State Militia in front of a tent, 1861

However the earliest photographs are much older than that with this admittedly uninspiring shot of a  French dovecote which was taken in 1826 acknowledged as the earliest photograph.

 (although there were allegedly some earlier ones going back as far as the early 1800's  or even the late 1700's  - since lost)

Paris 1838 and the first photograph of a human being (there he is having his shoes polished)

The creepy thing about this photograph, for me anyway, is that there are other people and also road traffic in it but they're just a blur because they were moving, the shoe shine man is the only one who stood still long enough to register.

Whitehall from Trafalgar Square, London, 1839.

No doubt there's some invisible traffic in this one too.

Here's Dorothy Catherine Draper in 1840, the first woman to be photographed, she must have had to sit still for a very long time.


earliest photographic self-portrait - Robert Cornelius in 1839

      and finally the daughters of William Henry Fox Talbot also taken in the 1840's

                                      And what about the earliest surviving moving film? 

Blink and you might miss it...

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