Image Acquisition History of Photography

History of Photography

The history of Photography Timeline

5th-4th Centuries B.C. – Chinese and Greek philosophers describe the basic principles of optics and the camera.

1thC D 16thc – The Camera obscura was developed allowing artists to hand trace the images it projected

1558 – Giovanni Battista della Porta illustrated camera principles in his book “Natural Magic”.

1568 – Daniello Barbaro fitted the camera obscura with a lens and a changeable opening to sharpen the image.

1666 – Issac Newton Demonstrated that light is the source of colour. He used a prism to split sunlight into its constituent colours and another to recombine them to make white light.

1801 – Thomas Young Suggested that the retina at the back of the eye contains three types of colour sensitive receptor, one sensitive to blue light, one to green and one to red. The brain interprets various combinations of these colours to form any other colour in the visible spectrum.

1818 – Joseph Nicephore Niepce made a crude photographic camera from a jewel box and a simple lens. With it he made a negative image.

1835  – Talbot describes in his notebook how a positive image might be made from a negative if the paper the negative was recorded on was transparent and as fixed (so it was rendered insensitive to the further action of light).

1840 – First lens designed specifically for photographic purposes by Petzval Hercules Florence (a Frenchman living in Brazil) claimed he had made photographics with a camera and by contact printing as early as 1832 and provided notebooks from 1833 to 1837 which clearly documented his technique and had indedpendently used the word photographie to describe what he had done.

1855 – In America, as competition increased with more and more daguerrotype galleries or studios opening up, the price of having ones daguerrotype taken dropped dramatically in a very short time e.g. from $2.50 for a small one to as low as $0.12 each or converted to 2005 values, from approx $60.00 for a 1/8 size print to $2.50) although most of these were cheap and unsatisfactory in quality and customers were frequently disappointed.

1857 – 600 photographic prints displayed at the Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester, affirming photographys growing importance in the art world.

1859  – The French Society of Photography finally succeeded in convincing the Ministry of Fine Arts to allow them to have an exhibition at the Palace of the Champs Elysees at the time of the annual painting Salon. It was still seen by art critics however as the servent of the sciences and arts like printing or short-hand.

The First photographs in which natural action (e.g. strollers on a street) was captured with regular assurance (meaning easily on a regular basis instead of rarely to never).

1880s – Hand cameras (that did not require a tripod) became widely available. They were mass produced and there was a bewildering variety to choose from. They dramatically increased the potential output of images of photographers.

The halftone plate was invented and made possible and revolutionized the pictorial magazines. Photographs could be reproduced very economically.

1888 – The most famous early hand camera, the Kodak invented and manufactured by George Eastman (a box camera that used roll film long enough for 100 circular exposures initially paper coated in light sensitive gelatin, the paper stripped from the base after processing) You click the button we do the rest. (the cameras were sold for $25 including processing and printing of all good photos).

1891 -Transparent film on a clear base of nitrocellulose was introduced (eliminated the need for paper negatives, and eventually, glass negatives).

1896 – The first X-Ray photo is taken when Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen noticed that a bit of barium platinocyanide emitted a fluorescent glow. He then laid a photographic plate behind his wifes hand. Previously, physicians were unable to look inside a persons body without making an incision. Roentgen was the recipient of the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901.

1898 – Kodak introduced their Folding Pocket Kodak.

1911- Edward Steichen began taking fashion photographs for Art et Decoration

1913 – Stieglitz waxed his prints for a glossy surface, something that was earlier considered to be Òunartistic.

Alvin Langdon Coburn starts shooting abstract photos (strange perspectives used e.g. birds eye views looking straight down from many feet up), and then created an optical devise based on the kaliedescope to create his images.

Vogue magazine began publishing fashion photographs by Baron Andolphe de Meyer. He founded a style in which the elegance of fashions is displayed with photographic feeling for textures.

1920s – Photographs and text started being used together extensively in magazines (especially initially in Germany). In this decade and the 1930s, The way photographs and text were integrated with each other came to be called photojournalism. The minature cameras with high speed lenses were designed to create images that brought the viewer into the scene.

1924 – The Ernox (the Ermanox) camera with an incredibly fast lens of f.2 came onto the market allowing widespread existing light photography. Lens speeds soon increased to f 1.5 and shutter speeds on these cameras were as fast as 1/1000 of a second.

First Leica put on the market with a 50mm f3.5 lens. Shortly afterward a model that allowed the lens to be easily changed while shooting.

1930s – Ansel Adams (arguably one the greatest  photographes of all time, or at least its greatest pioneer) begins to devote all his time to photography. His prints were made to be reproduced using the halftone process.

1933 – Henri Cartier-Bressons work was first shown in the Julien Levy Gallery in NYC. It was initially called Òantigraphic photography. They were so spontaneous they seemed accidental. He showed the unreality of reality. He was able to capture the split second when the subject revealed itself most fleetingly.

1934 – Fuji Photo Film founded.

1936  – The first issue of Life Magazine appears on newsstands (a publication designed to harness the optical consciousness of our time). This magazine differed from past photography magazines in how the photos were carefully chosen and sequenced by the editors it was about the mind guided camera. Issues are published weekly.

Kodachrome, the first multi-layered colour film is developed by Kodak

1937 – Margaret Bourek-White of time magazine is one of the first photographers to make use of the multiple sync flash technique. Photographers had true and complete control over the lighting in their shots for the first time (to sculpt their subjects or only illuminate certain things or generate enough light for comfortable, posed photographs).

The first major disaster was captured by photography as it happened: The Hindenberg Zeppelin was photographed as it burst into flames, photos that are still very moving and memorable today.

1938 – Electronic flash technology is born (replacing flashbulbs that can only be used once) when Harold E. Edgerton of MIT invented the gas filled tube.

1941 – Kodacolor negative film introduced.

1945 – Nikon F SLR introduced followed by the Contax S SLR

1946 –  Zoomar introduces the zoom lens, the invention of American Frank Back.

1947 – Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and David Seymour start the photographer-owned Magnum picture agency.

1948 – Hasselblad offers the first medium format SLR camera.

1960 – EG&G develops the first extreme depth underwater camera for the US Navy.

1963 – Land introduced the Polaroid color camera. Color photographs were developed in 50 seconds.

Kodak introduces the Instamatic line, the first point-and-shoot cameras.

1962 – National Geographicpublishes its first all-colour issue in February

1966 – Larry Burrows was the first important photographer to photograph an entire war in colour (as he photographed the Vietnam war).

1969  – The Vietnam war was brought closer to civilians than any other conflict before it by courageous photographers and TV cameramen. This was the most graphic photographic representation of the horrors of war (the wounded, the dying, and the dead) in history.

The Internet is created as ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Agency) for the U.S. Department of Defense. The network was designed to break information into separate packets and send the packets over various routes from computer to computer, rerouting the information as necessary to circumvent the breakdown or failure of parts of the system. In the first year, there were four host computers connecting Stanford, UCLA, UC-Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah.

1980s – A system called DX coding was introduced for 35mm films. The cassettes have an auto-sensing code printed on them which enable certain cameras to automatically set the film speed, this information can also be used by processing laboratories.

1985  – Minolta markets the world’s first autofocus SLR system (called “Maxxum” in the US). This is a significant advancement that starts a new debate over whether it is still necessary to be skilled in the mechanics of photography (f stops and depth of field, shutter speed, focusing skills etc.) now that cameras are equipt to do all the technical thinking for us, freeing us to concentrate on our creativity and vision.

1986  – Fuji introduces the Quicksnap, a disposable camera that revisits the original Kodak principle: the user sends the camera into the manufacturer, which then develops the film.

Kodak invents the world’s first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5 x 7-inch digital output in print.

1990 – Adobe releases Photoshop 1.0, an image manipulation program for Apple Macintosh computers.

1993 – NCSA releases the first WWW browser.

Apple Quicktake digital camera announced (developed jointly with Kodak). It was the first consumer level digital camera It boasts 640×480 (0.3 MP) resolution, a built-in flash, and could store 8 photos in its internal memory. It connected to an Apple Macintosh computer via a serial cable.

1992  – Kodak releases Photo CD, the first method available to the public for storing digital images.

1995  – Kodak announces the release of their fourth generation professional digital SLR, the DCS 460, a 6.2 megapixel camera with an ISO sensitivity of 80. It used the N90s (Nikon) body as a base. Its original list price: $12,000 US.

1996  – The short-lived APS format film was introduced.

Microsoft releases their WWW browser called Internet Explorer

1998 – The first consumer level megapixel cameras are introduced

Kodak DCS 520 professional digital SLR released using a Canon body and (for the first time in a pro digital SLR?) an LCD allowing the user to view photos immediately after they are taken.

1999  – Seth Resnick founds E.P. (Editorial Photographers), an organization and online (internet) community for freelance editorial photographers. The message board on Yahoo! Groups became active on April 11th. By 2004 membership grows to almost 4,000 photographers worldwide.

2000  – Fuji releases the S1 professional/pro-sumer SLR digital camera based on the Nikon F60 body (a prosumer level body). It boasts 6.13 MP. The starting list price was $4,000.

The worlds first camera phone released by Sharp (the J-SH04) in November: ÒThe J-SH04 was the industry’s first mobile phone to feature an integrated 110,000-pixel CMOS image sensor for taking digital photos. It was followed by the industry’s first application of a 65,536-color semi-transmissive TFT LCD on a flip type phone (J-SH05). Both models were supplied to J-Phone Co. Ltd., and raised Sharp’s presence in the mobile phone market”.

2002  – Digital SLRs almost completely replace 35mm cameras in Western dailly news coverage.

2004  – Sales of new point and shoot cameras are 90% digital. Nikon completely stops new production of point and shoot 35mm film cameras.

Research References


For this assignment we were asked to create a timeline in regards to the history of photography. I found this difficult as my research provided me with so much content it was hard to siphon out the information I thought was inportant, however I waded through the information I had gathered and created a fairly in depth timeline. Hopefully I didn’t miss many significant events.


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