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 I): Definition of Photography and the Invention of the Camera

Today, photography has become the largest growing hobby in the world. However, not all photography enthusiasts know the history of this art.

Are you wondering where and when the art called “photography” started? Do you want to discover how your current hobby developed?

If your answers to these questions is yes, then let this article provide you with most important details regarding the history of photography and the invention of the camera.

Since the history of photography is quite long, this discussion has been divided into three sections. This article is just the first part of the three-part discussion on the history of photography.

So, what is photography?

Photography is a word derived from the Greek words φς (phos) or “photos” meaning “light” and γραφή (graphê) or “graphien” meaning “to draw”, thus the word photography means “drawing with light”. This word was first used by Sir John F.W. Herschel, a scientist, in 1839.

The history of photography commenced with the invention and development of the camera and the creation of permanent images starting with Thomas Wedgwood in 1790 and it was culminated by the work of Joseph Nicephore Niepce, a French inventor, in 1826.

Invention of the Camera:

Even before the invention of a camera, people in the early days already knew the principles of photography. They were able to process images on the wall or on a piece of paper; however, they were not able to print these images. The instrument that they used to process pictures was called Camera Obscura. It was invented by Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haytham), a great authority on optics in the Middle Ages who lived around 1000 AD. Camera Obscura was the first pinhole camera ever invented.

Camera Obscura is essentially a dark, closed space in the shape of a box with a hole on one of its side. The hole has to be small enough in proportion to the box in order for it to work.

The first photograph

On a summer day in 1827, the first photograph was taken by Joseph Niepce, a French inventor. The photo depicted a view from the window at Le Gras. Joseph Niepce called his prints as heliographs or sun prints, which is the prototype of the modern photograph.

Further developments

  • In 1888, Eastman’s Kodak camera went to the market and this led to mass use of cameras. Their slogan was, “You press the button, we do the rest.”
  • In 1901 the Kodak Brownie was introduced, which became the first commercial camera in the market available for the middle class society. It only took black and white shots, but it was still very popular because of its efficiency.
  • In the middle of the 20th century, color photography became commercially valuable. Several color photography methods were patented from 1862 onwards by two French inventors, namely, Louis Ducos de Hauron and Charlec Cros Practical.
  • In 1907, the first practical color plate reached the market. The method it used was based on a screen of filters. The screen let filtered red, green and / or blue light through and it was then developed to a negative and later on reversed to a positive.
  • In 1861, the first color photo, an image of a tartan ribbon, was taken by the famous Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell.
  • In 1839, Louis Daguerra took the very first picture which has a human in it. It was called the Boulevard du Temple.

Popular Names in the early days of photography:

  1. Alfred Stieglitz – is an American photographer and a promoter for modern art. It is believed by many that he made photography as the art that it is today.
  2. Felix Nadar – is a pseudonym of Gaspard-Felix Tournachon, a French caricaturist and journalist. When photography emerged he became a photographer. He is most famous for pioneering the use of artificial lightning in photography.
  3. Henri Cartier-Bresson – is a French photographer who is believed to be the father of photojournalism. He is most famous for creating the “street photography” style of photojournalism.

Stay tuned for the second and third parts of this interesting discussion regarding the history of photography.