From Chemical Poisoning to Exploding Cameras – 14 Interesting Photography Facts You May Not Know.

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the most interesting facts from the history of Photography.

Let’s dive in:

1. The word “Photography” comes from the Greek, meaning to draw with light. The earliest known use of the word photograph as we know it was in 1839 by the astronomer Sir John Herschel.

2. The first photograph ever taken was by a French scientist named Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. He captured the image with a camera obscura in 1826. The famous image took eight hours to capture because of the long exposure needed for the camera. The image was actually lost for nearly 50 years before historians rediscovered it.

The first photograph ever taken by The first photograph ever taken by Nicéphore Niépce, 1826

The first photograph ever taken by The first photograph ever taken by Nicéphore Niépce, 1826

3. Some of the most popular subjects of photography in the 1800s were corpses. Many famous individuals were famously photographed after their deaths, like the Clantons and McLaurys who died in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. But it wasn’t only the famous who found themselves as posthumous models; regular people were often photographed after death also.

In this image, the dead girl on the left photographed with siblings

In this image, the dead girl on the left photographed with siblings

4. The company, Kodak, was founded by George Eastman in 1888. When asked, Eastman claimed that the word “Kodak” had no meaning behind it. He said that the letter K seemed “a strong, incisive sort of letter.”

5. The most expensive camera ever sold was a Leica 0-Series camera, a 1923 prototype for the ground-breaking Leica A. It was sold in auction in Vienna.

6. The chemicals used in the development of photographs included mercury, silver nitrate, lye, and more. These chemicals were extremely dangerous and many photographers had to take time off from their work due to illness caused by exposure to the chemicals. Over time, prolonged contact with these chemicals and metals could lead to madness or even death. Photography before the digital age was serious, potentially life-threatening business!

7. And it wasn’t just the chemicals from the developing solution that were dangerous. Early flash powder ingredients included Potassium chloride and aluminium which were mixed to create the flash for images. It was not uncommon for these to be mixed incorrectly and explode more violently than intended.

Flash Powder Advertisement

Flash Powder Advertisement

8. The first digital camera was invented all the way back in 1975 by Steve Sasson. Sasson was working for Kodak at the time and was ordered to keep the invention a secret.

The first prototype digital camera

The first prototype digital camera

9. This first digital camera was only 0.01 Megapixel and weighed an incredible 8 pounds (3.6kg). It took the camera over 20 seconds to commit the image to tape.

10. Before the take-over of digital cameras, the US government was covertly taking pictures of the Soviet Union. To achieve this they launched 20 satellites, which each contained around 60 miles of film along with their camera. When the film was used, it was jettisoned from the satellite and fell back to Earth.

11. One of the most famous images of the 20th century, the “Afghan Girl” was taken in 1984 and published in National Geographic in 1985. However, the girl in the image didn’t know it became world famous until she was shown her own photo in 2002.

'Afghan Girl' by Steve McCurry

‘Afghan Girl’ by Steve McCurry

12. In 1987, the Knoll brothers developed a piece of software called ImagePro. It was purchased by Adobe and used to create what we now know as Photoshop. Version 1 of Photoshop was released on February 19th, 1990 and was a Macintosh exclusive.

13. The most viewed photograph in the history is the Windows XP’s default wallpaper.

14. And finally, the human eye equivalent of f-stop is f/8.3 in bright conditions and f/2 in dark conditions.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these 14 photography facts, and if you know anyone who would be interested in reading the, be sure to share this article!

By | 2017-11-08T12:19:53+00:00 February 27th, 2017|blog, history of photography|1 Comment

About the Author:

We are the Photoion Photography School, and we love everything to do with Photography. We are always reading about the latest techniques, equipment, and accessories. We endeavour to share what we are passionate about with you. Enthusiasm is contagious; and we would love for our readers to be as enthusiastic about Photography as we are. We are constantly teaching, shooting, and posting great images and stories so stay tuned!

One Comment

  1. Top 10 Facts about photography. – CRAZYGRAPHER 20/09/2017 at 10:53 am

    […] This first digital camera was only 0.01 Megapixel and weighed an incredible 8 pounds (3.6kg). It took the camera over 20 seconds to commit the image to tape.[+] […]

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