History of Photography (Part 3): Modern Development & Digital Photography Era

Welcome to the last part of the three-part discussion on the History of Photography, we have already learned about the definition of photography and the invention of the camera in part 1 (http://www.scancorner.co.uk/blog/history-of-photography-part-i-definition-of-photography-and-the-invention-of-the-camera/), and the types of camera, films and prints in part 2 (http://www.scancorner.co.uk/blog/history-of-photography-part-2-types-of-cameras-films-and-prints/). This third part we will be learning about the modern developments and the digital photography era.

The Development of Modern Photography

In 1829, Louis Daguerre, the inventor of the first practical process of photography, formed a partnership with Joseph Nicephore Niepce. Together they improved the process that Niepce has developed.  In 1839, Daguerre developed a more convenient and effective method of photography which he called as “The Daguerreotype”.

The Digital Era

Digital Camera’s Invention History:

  • In October 17,1969, George Smith and William Boyle invented the charge-coupled device (CCD) at Bell Labs.
  • In 1970, the inventors build a CCD into the first solid-state video camera.
  • In 1973, Fairchild Semiconductor released the first large image-forming CCD chip.
  • In 1975, the CCD camera received image quality good enough to broadcast television. On the same year, Bryce Bayer of Kodak developed the Bayer filter mosaic pattern for CCD color image sensors.
  • In 1981, Sony Corporation released the first prototype digital camera, called the Mavica. It used two CCD chips in recording images as magnetic impulses onto a floppy disk.
  • In 1986, Kodak scientists invented the world’s first megapixel sensor.
  • In 1987, Kodak released seven products for recording, storing, manipulating, transmitting and printing electronic still video images.
  • In early 1988, Fuji introduced the first generation digital camera, called the DS-1P which utilized CMOS sensors.
  • In 1991, the first digital camera system was developed. It was aimed at photojournalists.

 How Digital Cameras’ Work:

Digital cameras use a semiconductor device that records light electronically and saves it in bits and bytes using the pixel grid. A computer will then recognize these bytes and depict whatever has been recorded.

A digital camera can only “see” the intensity of the light and it cannot “see” color. So, in order for it to record color, most digital camera sensors use filters in order to look at the light in three primary colors, namely, red, green and blue. After the filtered channels are filtered, the three colors are then combined in order to create a full spectrum.

For most advanced type cameras, they use three different sensors in recording each color. For this to work, a beam splitter is being used. It is intended to split the beam of light into the three different sensors at the same time.

The cheapest known method in recording colors in digital cameras is the use of a permanent color filter array over the photo.

Meanwhile, the most widely used filter is called the “Bayer Filter Pattern”. It alternates a row of red and green pixels with a row of green and blue pixels in order to create the full color spectrum that is needed in the image.

Invention of the Autofocus System:

The creation of the Autofocus System in digital cameras is one of the fascinating ideas that the digital photography era brought upon.

There are two types of Autofocus Systems, the “active” autofocus, which is cheap, and the “passive” autofocus, which is more expensive.

The active autofocus system requires the camera to send infrared signals and receive them again as they bounce off the subject. It will then recognize the signal that it received and then the lens will be adjusted according to the signal.

The passive autofocus, which is commonly used in today’s digital SLRs, is a system the analyses the image through the processing of the pixel strip as well as deciding on how the lens should be adjusted.

 Known personalities during the modern and digital eras of photography:

1.      Carol Guzy is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner. She was the first female who ever win the Newspaper Photographer of the Year Award in 1990. She is widely known for her strong and extremely powerful photography work in the Washington Post.

2.      Juergen Teller is a German fashion photographer. He is considered as one of the brightest post-modern fashion photographers today. Most of his works are very European and modern.

3.      Kevin Carter was a celebrated South African war photographer. He became popular after his took his most famous picture of a famine victim in Sudan.

4.      Garry Winogrand is one of the first street photographers. He created a certain style of stereo photography where a situation being depicted in a moment and it is full of story.

5.      Richard Avedon is one of the first true fashion photographers. He has worked for brands all over the world and has created the identity for fashion photography as a form of art.

6.      Annie Liebovitz is responsible in defining the look of Rolling Stone and other pop culture-related magazines. She was also the creator of the American culture throughout the 70s. One of her most famous photo shows was of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Congratulations! You have already learned all of the important facts regarding the history of photography. Now you can confidently continue to develop you photographic skills knowing that you are already equipped with the knowledge that you need regarding this popular hobby.

History of Photography Part 2: Types of Cameras, Films and Prints

This is the second part of the three-part discussion on the history of photography. In the first part, we learned about the definition of photography and the invention of the camera. To continue with the discussion, this second part intends to inform you of the types of cameras, films and prints.

If ever you haven’t read the first part yet, you may want to check this out, http://www.scancorner.co.uk/blog/history-of-photography-part-i-definition-of-photography-and-the-invention-of-the-camera/

So, what are the types of cameras that were invented ever since the art of photography started? Here is the list:

a.     Pinhole Camera is also known as Camera Obscura. It was developed by Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haytam) {this was thoroughly discussed in part 1}.

b.     Daguerreoty Camera is a type of camera that utilizes a sliding-box design.

c.     Box camera was developed by George Eastman. He was dry plate manufacturer from Rochester, New York. The first simple camera was made in 1888. It was a wooden, light-tight box with a simple lens and shutter that was factory-filled with film.

d.     The first 35mm camera was called ‘Ur-Leica’. It was invented by Oskar Barnack in 1905. He was a development manager at Leica.

e.     In 1984, Canon demonstrated the first digital electronic still camera.

f.        In 1986, Fuji introduced the first disposable camera.

Invention of Photographic Films

The first flexible roll film dates back to 1889 and they were made of cellulose nitrate, which is chemically similar to guncotton. It is highly flammable and special storage was required.

Later came, the Triacetate film. It was more stable, flexible and fireproof. Most films produced up to the 1970s were based on this technology.

Today, technology has produced film with T-grain emulsions. These films use light-sensitive silver halides or grains that are T-shaped, which renders a much finer grain pattern. Films like this offer greater detail and higher resolution, thus producing sharper images.

Types of films or negatives:

  • Calotype (Greek for beautiful picture) – in 1841, Henry Fox Talbot, an English Botanist and Mathematician invented the first negative from which multiple positive prints.
  • Tintypes – was patented by Hamilton Smith in 1856. It is another medium that heralded the birth of photography.
  • Wet Plate Negatives – was invented by Frederick Scoff Archer, an English sculptor in 1851. Using a viscous solution of collodion, he coated glass with light-sensitive silver salts. Because it was glass and not paper, this wet plate created a more stable and detailed negative.
  • Dry Plate Negatives and Hand-held Cameras – In 1879, dry plate was invented. It is a glass negative plate with a dried gelatine emulsion. Dry plates could be stored for a period of time.
  • Flexible Roll Film – was invented by George Eastman in 1889. It has a base that was flexible, unbreakable, and could be rolled. Emulsions coated on a cellulose nitrate film base, such as Eastman’s, made the mass-produced box camera a reality.

Photographic Prints

Monochrome Process

  • Around the year 1800, Thomas Wedgwood made the first known attempt to capture the image in a camera obscura by means of a light-sensitive substance. He used a paper or white leather treated with silver nitrate.
  • The oldest surviving permanent photograph of the image formed in a camera was created in 1826 or 1827 by the French inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce. The photograph was produced on a polished pewter plate.
  • In partnership, Niepce (in Chalon-sur-Saone) and Louis Daguerre (in Paris) refined the bitumen process, substituting a more sensitive resin and a very different post-exposure treatment that yielded higher-quality and more easily viewed images. Exposure times in the camera, although somewhat reduced, were still measured in hours.
  • In 1833, Daguerre experimented with photographing camera images directly onto a silver-surfaced plate that had been fumed with iodine vapour, which reacted with the silver to form a coating of silver iodide.
  • On January 7, 1839, Daguerre announced this first complete practical photographic process to the FrenchAcademy of Sciences. Complete instructions were published on August 19, 1839.
  • William Henry Fox Talbot, in early 1839 he acquired a key improvement, an effective fixer, from John Herschel, the astronomer, who had previously shown that hyposulfite of soda (commonly called ‘Hypo” and now known formally as sodium thiosulfate) would dissolve silver salts.
  • In 1840, Talbot invented the calotype process, which used the principle of chemical development of a faint or invisible “latent” image to reduce the exposure time to a few minutes.
  • George Eastman later refined Talbot’s process, which is the basic technology used by chemical film camera today.
  • Hippolyte Bayard had also developed a method of photography but delayed announcing it, and so was not recognized as its inventor.
  • In 1839, John Herschel made the first glass negative, but his process was difficult to reproduce.
  • In 1841, Slovene Janez Puhar invented a process for making photographs on glass.  It was recognized on June 17, 1852 in Paris by the Academie Nationale Agricole, Manufacturiere et Commerciale.
  • In 1847, the chemist Niepce St. Victor, published his invention of a process for making glass plates with an albumen emulsion.
  • In the mid-1840, the Langenheim brothers of Philadelphia and John Whipple and William Breed Jones of Boston also invented workable negative-on-glass processes.
  • In 1851, Frederick Scott Archer invented the collodion process. Photographer and children’s author Lewis Carroll used this process.
  • Herbert Bowyer Berkeley experimented with his own version of collodian emulsions.
  • In 1881, Berkeley published his discovery. Berkeley’s formula contained pyrogallol, sulfite and citric acid. Ammonia was added just before use to make the formula alkaline. The new formula was sold by the Platinotype Company in London as Sulpho-Pyrogallol Developer.

Color Process

  • As early as 1848, a practical means of color photography has been sought, but exposures that lasted for hours or days were required and the colors were so light-sensitive they would only bear very brief inspection in dim light.
  • In 1861, Thomas Sutton took the first durable color photograph was a set of three black-and-white photographs taken through red, green and blue color filters and shown superimposed by using three projectors with similar filters. He used the photo in a lecture by the Scottish Physicist James Clerk Maxwell, who had proposed the method in 1855.
  • In the early 20th century, Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii used Maxwell’s method in his work.
  • It was made practical by Hermann Wilhelm Vogel’s 1873 discovery of a way to make emulsions sensitive to the rest of the spectrum, gradually introduced into commercial use beginning in the mid-1880s.
  • Two French inventors, Louis Ducos du Hauron and Charles Cros, working unknown to each other during the 1860s, famously unveiled their nearly identical ideas on the same day in 1869. Included were methods for viewing a set of three color filtered black-and-white photographs in color without having to project them, and for using them to make full-color prints on paper.
  • The first widely used method of color photography was the Autochrome plate, commercially introduced in 1907. It was  based on one of Louis Ducos du Hauron’s ideas.
  • A new era in color photography began with the introduction of Kodachrome film, available for 16mm home movies in 1935 and 35mm slides in 1936. It captured the red, green and blue color components in three layers of emulsion.
  • Maxwell’s method of taking three separate filtered black-and-white photographs continued to serve special purposes into the 1950s and beyond, and Polachrome, an “instant” slide film that used the Autochrome’s additive principle, was available until 2003.

Watch out for the third part of this discussion to learn more about the modern development of photography.