Growing UP when I thought of pictures, it was Matthew Brady, Eastman, Kodak and the likes who came to mind.
With my baby blue camera, a roll of film and a really bad eye I, set off on a quest to take pictures. I took plenty.
They were pretty terrible.
No eye, thick glasses, and unruly subjects – a poor mixture.
The general results…
So, why am I writing about photography today since most of my photos are terribly placed, poorly lit, and generally out of focus?
Well, today is the celebration of the birth of Nicéphore Niépce, who was born Joseph and somewhere along the line changed his name to honor a saint.
Frankly, I’d have stayed with Joseph.
Born March 7, 1765, the French inventor is credited as the inventor of what we know as photography and was at the very least a pioneer in the field. He developed heliography which is a technique he used to create what remains the world’s oldest surviving product of a photographic process.
It’s a print made from a photoengraved printing plate in 1825. In 1827, some would argue 1825, he used a “primitive” camera to take the world’s oldest surviving photograph.
He invented the Pyreolophore, the first internal combustion engine along with his brother Claude.
The guy was pretty sharp.
The son of a wealthy French lawyer, Joseph left with the family when the French Revolution broke out.
He served in the army of Napoleon in Italy and on Sardinia. His health forced him to resign and he promptly married one Agnes Romero and became the administrator of Nice in post-revolutionary France. Resigning, either to go assist his brother Claude in scientific endeavors, or because he was an unpopular administrator – depending on whom you’d like to believe – he headed back to France.
In 1801, the family was reunited in Chalon and along with Claude, brother Bernard, and an unnamed sister – sorry gals – they started raising beets and producing sugar.
Niepce experimented with many different substances that were affected by light in his quest for picture making. One was dissolving bitumen in lavender oil. Lavender oil was used in varnishes and he coated it onto a lithographic stone, after the coating dried, he printed it on paper and put them in direct sunlight.
The exposure complete, the solvent was rinsed away and the unhardened bitumen washed away, and with this he created sun drawing or heliography.
Claude, a spendthrift, moved back to London, went “half-mad” and squandered the family fortune. Joseph headed over just in time to comfort him on his deathbed, returned to France financially ruined and died of a stroke in 1833.
But he left us a few things – photography wise and in other areas, as he had varied interests as most creative scientists do.
An ink on paper print of a Flemish engraving, and what is believed to be the world’s first actual photograph.
After his death, his son Isidore formed a partnership with Daguerre, the inventor of the Daguerreotype.