The invention of photography almost 200 years ago

It is only a short time until the bi-centenial celebration of the invention (not ‘birth’ because it did not just happen by itself) of Photography.

Sometime in 1825 French inventor Nicéphore Niépce developed the proces of capturing light on pewter plates coated with bitumen (heliography) and thus created the World’s first permanent photographs.

Of those early photographs only one (you can say luckily or sadly) survived: the well known view from an upper window of the family home in Le Gras. It was made somewhere in 1826- early 1827 and look about 8 hours to light the plate. The image that is normally shown is a reproduction by the Kodak Eastman Company. The reproduction was retouched by the discoverer of the pewter original, photo historian and collector Helmut Gernsheim. The original can only be viewed under very specific lighting conditions and an angle of about 39 degrees.

Today the first ‘surviving’ photograph is kept under controlled conditions in Austin Texas at the Harry Ransom Center.

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
Kodak reproduction retouched by Gernsheim of only surviving first permanent photographs.
Rememberance plate at Niepce’s home in Le Gras (photo by Pierre-Yves Mahé/Spéos)

Published by gastonfoto

Gaston is a fashion and portrait photographer who lives in the province of Utrecht in the Netherlands.