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Invention of photography

1830s

Invention of photography

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  • Intro

    The first photographic technologies were produced during the 1830s and 40s. The invention of photography would revolutionise culture and communication in the West forever. For the first time, images of ‘real’ life could be captured for posterity and sent around the world. Portraits of royalty and other celebrities (far more accurate than paintings) allowed members of the public to feel they were viewing these people ‘in the flesh’. The dead could be remembered, the fleeting could be fixed.

     

    The British inventor Fox Talbot produced his first successful photographic images in 1834, without a camera, by placing objects onto paper brushed with light-sensitive silver chloride, which he then exposed to sunlight. By 1840, Talbot had succeeded in producing photogenic drawings in a camera, with short exposures yielding an invisible or ‘latent’ image that could be developed to produce a usable negative. This made his process a practical tool for subjects such as portraiture and was patented as the calotype in 1841. The calotype shown here is from 1842. Talbot’s negative-positive process formed the basis of almost all photography on paper up to the digital age.

     

    The video tab displays a modern reconstruction of the calotype process.

  • Video

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