Photography is so omnipresent now -whether in science, advertising, existing events media, propaganda, or simply our very own snaps – it is hard to imagine a human being without it. And yet 200 years ago it didn’t exist. In the duration in between the 2 soimg.orgs experiments were undermeans both in France and also in England also, and also by the moment’s nephew ended up being Emperor of France in 1852, photography was developing its very own tiny radvancement.

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What is photography?

The word “photography” literally indicates “illustration through light”. The word was supposedly initially coined by the British scientist Sir John Herschel in 1839 from the Greek words phos, (genitive: phōtós) meaning “light”, and graphê definition “drawing or writing”. The technology which led to the invention of photography fundamentally combines two unique sciences: optics – the convergence of light rays to create a photo inside a video camera – and chemistry, to permit that photo to be caught and taped permanently onto a photosensitive (light-sensitive) surconfront.

The first camera?

Already during the Renaissance (several centuries earlier) artists had begun to usage a type of primitive “camera” referred to as a camera obscura (a latin term interpretation literally “dark room” from which is obtained our modern-day word “camera”) to more accurately copy nature by suggests of illustration. This naturally-emerging optical phenomenon had actually already been oboffered for hundreds (also thousands) of years: If a brightly lit scene or object is placed opposite a hole reduced right into the side of a darkened area (room or container), the rays of light reflected off that object, passing through the hole, converge into an upside-down image which deserve to be watched to be “projected” onto the surchallenge inside the container. But the camera obscura only enabled for the viewing of that image in genuine time. In order to record it permanently, artists still had to trace the picture by hand inside the cam.

Early photographic experiments

Around 1800, in England also, Thomas Wedgwood (kid of Josiah Wedghardwood, the famous potter) controlled to produce inside a video camera obscura a black and also white negative picture on paper or white leather treated via silver nitrate, a white chemical which was recognized to darken as soon as exposed to light. However before, he was not able to fix the image permanently because the lighter parts of the photo additionally came to be dark once looked at in the light for more than a few minutes. His exploration was reported in a academic journal in 1802 by a chemist Humphry Davy and also analyzed into French.

The initially photograph

Enhanced version of the image Nicéphore Niépce derived from the home window in Le Gras 1826/7 (See the original plate here)

Then, in 1816, (as soon as had simply arrived on St Helena), a Frenchmale, Nicéphore Nièpce, prospered in catching tiny camera imeras on paper treated through silver chloride (another chemical sensitive to light). However before, favor Wedgwood, he was not yet able to fix and preserve these imperiods.

So, he began exploring through other light-sensitive substances, and also in 1822, Nièpce developed a process he called “heliography” (aacquire, making use of Greek words, this time meaning “sun drawing”, from helios and graphê). And in 1826/7, Nièpce succeeded in making the earliest surviving cam photograph. It represented a watch from a home window at Le Gras (his hometown in Burgundy, France), captured on a pewter plate coated in bitumales diluted in lavender oil. The exposure time was probably a number of days.

The daguerreotype – the initially commercial success

Daguerreoform of Louis Daguerre in 1844 by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot

A few years later on, Nièpce entered partnership via Louis Daguerre, and also together they enhanced the heliograph process, substituting a much more light-sensitive resin and improving post-expocertain treatment. After Nièpce passed away in 1833, Daguerre emerged a technique in which a silver-coated copper plate fumed via iodine vapour created silver iodide when exposed to light in the camera. He made a significant breakthrough as soon as he discovered that a “latent” (nearly invisible) picture acquired from a brief exposure can be additionally occurred and also made visible by exposing it to mercury fumes: in this way expocertain times (which formerly were several hours) could be decreased to a few minutes. On 7 January 1839, Daguerre’s discovery was presented at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences, and also as a result of the prestige of the discovery, the French federal government chose to offer Daguerre a life-time stipend (salary) in exadjust for making the method freely easily accessible to whoever before wanted to use it, instead of patenting it.

The daguerreokind, as Daguerre’s invention was named, was an instant success, offering a reasonably inexpensive and also precise way of representing scenes and faces which formerly had actually to be attracted or painted by hand. Within a few years, photographic studios had popped up anywhere Paris and also indeed across the human being, as the up-and-coming middle classes all wanted to have their portraits taken. It is sassist that photographic apparatus was taken to St Helena to photograph I’s body once it was exhumed in 1840, however that the material was damaged and did not job-related.


At the very same time that Daguerre was perfecting his process, an Englishman, William Fox Talbot, had actually in 1835 flourished in developing negative photographic images making use of a technique comparable to Nièpce’s early experiments, and also which forced a lengthy expocertain time (at leastern an hour). After reading around Daguerre’s exploration, Talbot perfected an approach whereby a record negative could be exposed for just a minute or two, creating a “latent” image which might then be chemically “occurred out” and also made visible. The resulting translucent negative, despite being much less comprehensive than the daguerreotype, had the advantage that it can be provided to make multiple positive copies. Talbot published his outcomes, which ended up being well-known as a “talbotype” or more usually “calotype” (from the Greek kalos, interpretation “beautiful” and also tupos meaning “impression”) in 1841, and this became the protoform for the negative-positive printing procedure which would certainly remajor the basis of analog photographic remanufacturing throughout the 19th and 20th centuries until the innovation of digital photography.

Have a look at a video clip of the calokind procedure.

Criticism of the brand-new medium

Honoré Daumier: the many valuable position to accomplish a nice portrait with a daguérreokind, 1847

Back in France tbelow was but some resistance to the new modern technology, particularly from artists that might have actually feared that photographers would certainly put them out of business! Some of them, such as the satirical cartoonist Honoré Daumier, didn’t hesitate to ridicule the the majority of effective photographers and also their clients. The poet and also art doubter Baudelaire saw in photography the gratification of modern society’s natural materialistic and also narcissistic tendencies (he would certainly have actually hated the selfie!): “The foul culture ruburned like a single Narcissus to condesign template its trivial photo on the steel ”.

Artist-photographers and also innovators

However, some artists, seeing the brand-new medium’s potential for imagination, actually turned to photography themselves. One of them was Gustave Le Gray, a painter that set up his very own portrait studios wbelow he not only photographed friends, family and noteworthy clients he additionally taught photographic strategy to various other photographers and also also designed brand-new techniques. In 1848, he realised that applying wax to paper negatives made them even more receptive to detail. Then in 1850 he designed a glass negative process well-known as “wet collodion” (which was perfected by Frederick Scott Archer). This technique, which provided more detailed images than the calokind however could be recreated unchoose the Daguerreotype, seemed to integrate the ideal of both human beings.

Imperial patronage of the brand-new medium

Gustave Le Gray, Prince-President, 1852

It was Gustave Le Gray who was the first main photographer to a French head of state – Prince-President Bonaparte, (nephew of I) who went on to come to be Emperor in 1852. Like other monarchs, such as Queen Victoria, easily realised that photography offered the indicates to existing himself and his family to his subjects as actual people. Photographs can be redeveloped in large numbers and in various layouts (from pocket-sized “visiting cards” to special-edition framed prints which imitated standard painted portraits).

Scientific missions

But the brand-new tool was not restricted to the lucrative activity of portraiture. Photographers were soon in demand for documenting all kinds of topics for clinical functions. III himself initiated several of these comgoals such as making precise documentary imperiods of historical structures almost everywhere France that were in need of restoration (known as the “Mission Héliographique”) or reporting on the brand-new army camp ordered by III at Chalôns. The Crisuppose War of 1853-1856 which the Russian Realm lost versus an alliance in between France, Britain, the Ottoman Realm and also Sardinia was the initially to be documented photographically.

The start of push photography

Thibault, The Barricade in rue Saint-Maur-Popincourt before the assault by General Lamoricière’s troops, 1848

Before the creation of photography, existing occasions and also news were reported principally via the written word or periodically by engraved duplicates of illustrations or paintings. It was not until 1848 that a photograph of a existing occasion – the barricade of the Rue Saint Maur (25-26 June), component of the continuous tensions following the 1848 Rdevelopment and also the declaration of the Second French Republic – was recreated (about two weeks after the event!) as an engraving in an depicted magazine. After 1860, magazines would certainly clearly mention when an engraving was made from a photograph, and also, by implication, lend weight to the expected authenticity of the scene represented.

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Photographic insight into history

The realism of photography adds a unique visual dimension to our understanding of the Second French Realm. We can look right into the encounters of the protagonists, the Imperial household, various other individualities. We have the right to likewise notice what they made a decision to display and also what they chose not to, just as I had carefully organised his public picture once commissioning artists to make paints of himself and also his exploits.

Why not have actually a look at some painted portraits of I and compare then through those official photographic depictions of his nephew, III…