03 November 2011
The History, Importance, and Evolution of Photography
Without photographs in today’s society, how would we be cognizant about past events, present news, and even foresee a glimpse into the future? With a single idea of a sun beam passing through a hole in a simple enclosed box, the invention of the image projecting camera obscura was created. There is a magnitude more to comprehend about the camera than just the disposable ones you encounter in drug stores; the camera obscura has a history of more than 2,000 years. Over the years the use of photography turned into a hobby, and was also made more well known by many of its users. The overall history of the camera is significant, along with the people who made it all possible; photography is also incredibly relevant in the world surrounding us today.
“Camera Obscura, Latin for “dark room,” refers to a dark box in which light rays from an object pass through a small hole or lens to produce the image on the plate or film contained inside. When the light rays create the image within the camera obscura, the image is generated upside down (Photography.com).” Through much contemplation among historians, it was agreed that Johannes Kepler, the German astronomer, was the first scientist to actually use a device Burns 2
called a camera. Many years before the camera was created, there was such existence as photo copying, which was almost 2,000 years before the camera obscura was even created. The Greek philosopher Aristotle “…discovered that by passing sunlight through a pinhole, he could create a reversed image of the Sun on the ground…(Watson),” he used a device that allowed him to see solar as well as lunar eclipses without looking directly into the blinding light; this dated back to as early as 300 B.C. E. The same idea of using an enclosed box as a “dark room” was later used for the “modern” day camera which was invented in the early 1800’s. When the camera began to make its publicity, the impact of seeing an image projected on a wall did not harmonize well with Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was outraged when they saw actual photos projected on a wall, and thought the camera was actually an act of witchcraft. Any work involving the camera or projection of images during this time was banned for six years after. Before long, an English man named William Henry Fox Talbot “…developed a negative-positive process, which he called the calotype. Using this process, multiple positive prints could be made from a paper negative. Talbot's invention of paper photography remained experimental into the 1840s, in part because Talbot obtained patents and then defended them vigorously (Boom).” Once people were able to see actual photographs on paper, they began to compose infinite possibilities. Photography began to become more and more popular especially with newspaper companies. Now that photographs were capable of being printed on paper, newspaper companies could now create a greater detailed story beside a physical image for the article. Toward the end of the 1800’s and into the early and mid 1900’s, photography began to conform into a hobby and wasn’t just used for documentary reasons. Burns 3
Furthermore, contributing to the art of the photography was a talented, self taught man, Ansel Adams. Adams was born near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California on February 20, 1902. “His earliest aspiration was to become a concert pianist, but he turned to photography in the late teens of the century; a trip to Yosemite National Park in 1916, where he made his first amateurish photos, is said to have determined his direction in life (“Ansel Adams”).” Ansel Adams loved wildlife, and decided to make the scenery of Yosemite National Park some of his main subject matter for his infamous landscape photos. “Ansel Adams' work is an extensive documentation of what is still left of the wilderness, the...