The Evolution of Photography

evolution-of-photography

Over the years photography has come a long way and has changed and evolved dramatically, even though it has a relatively short history.

In almost 200 years, the camera has developed from a plain box that use to take blurry photos to the high tech DSLR’s and smartphones we use today.

Its evolution is fascinating, and we could go into so much detail on every little aspect that has changed and progressed in its time, however let’s just look at the main highlights and major developments of this spectacular art form.

The Very First Cameras.

So, the basic concept of photography has been around since the 5th century. But it wasn’t until an Iraqi scientist developed a device called the camera obscura in the 11th century that the art was born properly.

However, it didn’t record images, it just simply projected them onto a different surface.
The images were also upside down and could be traced to create accurate drawings of real objects, like buildings, tress, etc.

The very first camera obscura used a pinhole in a tent to project an image from outside the tent, it wasn’t until the 17th century that it became small enough to be portable.

Basic lenses to focus the light were also introduced around this time.

Dawn of the Photograph.

In 1826 the first photograph was taken by Joseph Nicephore Niepce, the photograph is called a heliograph to be exact.

It is believed to be the oldest surviving photograph from a window of his estate located in Le Gras. It is said that it took anywhere between eight hours and several days and the piece of work remained in Joe’s camera obscura.

Shortly afterwards he partnered with an artist named Louis Daguerre and investigated into refining the process.

The process was refined and was named the daguerreotype and the instructions were then published as a gift to the world on August 19th, 1839.

Cameras for Everyone.

Photography was only for professionals and the very rich, that was until George Eastman started a company called Kodak in the 1880’s.

He created a flexible roll film that did not require the constant changing of solid plates. Which allowed him to develop a box camera that held 100 film exposures.

The camera developed had a single lens with no focusing adjustments. The user of the camera would take pictures and then send them back to the factory for the film to be developed and prints were then made.

This was the first ever camera that was inexpensive enough for the average normal person to afford.

The film was still large compared to today’s 35mm film. It took until the last 1940’s for 35mm film to become cheap enough for most people to afford.

The War.

Henri-Cartier Bresson and other photographers began to use small 35mm camera to capture images of life as it occurred rather than staging them, that was around the 1930’s.

When World War II started in 1939 many photojournalists adopted this style, and the style of capturing decisive moments shaped the face of photography forever.

Instant Images.

At the same time as 35mm cameras were starting to become popular, Polaroid introduced the Model 95.

Which used a secret chemical process to develop film inside the camera in less than a minute. This new camera was fairly expensive but the novelty of instant images caught public attention.

By the time the mid 1960’s came Polaroid had many models in the market, with the price dropping as well meant that even more people could afford it.

Furthermore, in 2008 Polaroid stopped making the famous instant film. Many groups have tried to revive instant film with limited success.

And still in 2016 it remained hard for people to replicate the quality that was a Polaroid.

Image Control.

The French introduced the permanent image, while the Japanese brought easy control of images to the photographer.

1950’s saw Asahi (which later became Pentax) introduce the Asahiflex and Nikon introduce the Nikon F camera.

Both of these cameras were SLR-types and the Nikon F allowed for interchangeable lenses and other accessories, which was very new to people at that time.

For 30 years after that SLR-style cameras remained the camera of choice for most people and many improvements were introduced to both the cameras the film itself.

Smart Cameras.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s compact cameras were introduced that were capable of making image control decisions on their own.

These cameras were labelled “point and shoot”, they calculated shutter speed, aperture and focus, which meant photographers were able to concentrate on other things like composition.

The compact camera became immensely popular with the causal photographers. And professionals and amateurs continued to prefer to make their own adjustments and enjoyed the image control of SLR cameras.

The Digital Age.

The 1980’s and 1990’s saw numerous manufacturers worked on camera that stored images electronically, and the first of these were point-and-shoot cameras that used digital media instead of film.

By 1991 Kodak produced the first digital camera, advanced enough for professionals to use successfully. With other manufacturers following quickly and today Canon, Nikon, Pentax and others offer advanced digital SLR (DSLR) cameras.

Even the most basic point and shoot cameras now take a higher quality image than the first Niepce’s pewter plate, and even smartphones can shoot a high quality printed photograph.

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