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Photography

By Chelsye1 May 08, 2013 1628 Words
It is hard to find an aspect of the humanities that photography did not impact. Throughout all of history and the advancements made in technology photography has been used to do everything from prove a theory in science, to record a special event in a person’s life. In today’s modern world the impact of photography can be seen daily. Developments such as Photo identification, films, photojournalism, and thousands of other advances in life have all come from photography. Though all these aspects of photography are amazing in themselves, the true element of photography that made it such an impactful advancement in the humanities was its ability to capture a moment in time, and give the middle-class an understandable and relatively cheap new artistic medium. Though the discovery that an image could reflect on to another surface came around in the early fifth century (Hirsh, 2000), it wasn’t until around the 1800’s that inventors started really trying to create something that both scientists and the middle-class could use to capture an accurate image of their subjects (Kleiner &ump; Maymiam, 2005). During this period of time only the rich upper-class were able to capture images of their familes and important aspects of their lives through a type of art called realism. This technique involved many hours of painting and siting in one area for a long time, and was very expensive. Scientists were also having troubles with their studies because they had no accurate ways to record key discoveries, because of this, inventors realized that still photography would be an invention people would be willing to invest in. If they found a way to create a device that would capture images like a painting not only would they sell to scientists, they would also sell to photographers and other Americans looking to capture family portraits and create other forms of artwork by a cheaper means than the large investment that was realistic portrait painting. This would come to be a major step forward in the arts and sciences as a key role of the portrait painter was eventually replaced by the camera (Russel, 1993). Though key philosophers and inventors such as Chinese Philospher Mo Ti (Hirsh, 200) and Leonardo da Vinci thought up ideas and even came up with drawings that supported the idea of capturing an image with a device, it wasn’t until 1786, when an inventor by the name of Gilles Louis Chretien combined cutout silhouette’s and engraving to create a machine called the physionotrace (Hirsh, 2000). Though this machine was not a camera, it did allow operators to trace a profile on to glass in about a minute and make multiple copies of that tracing (Hirsh, 200). This was the first recorded way that the middle-class could reproduce a version of what painters were doing for the upper-class in a way that was much cheaper. There were many attempts to create a machine that was able to actually capture an image over the years following the physionotrace, most of them to large or to operate; it wasn’t until 1826 that the French inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce created the first machine capable of producing a fixed camera image (Russel, 1993). Instead of just being impressions or tracings these “photographs” were actual reproduced images of what was actually happening in front of the lens. It was around this time that “photographers” and scientists started using “cameras” as recorders of actual discoveries, places, and people in real-time at their exact locations. Once photography started becoming accepted as a credible art form it was met with mixed reactions from those who considered themselves artists. Some found it a quicker and easier way to capture portraits and still life that they had spent hours painting, while other saw it as a threat to their painstakingly difficult process of capturing a realistic image through painting. (Kleiner, Maymiam, 2005). The truth is photography helped progress the arts on both ends of the spectrum. It helped the painters who felt photography was a positive tool study how to better create a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional plane, and it helped the naysayers by challenging them to try to produce not only more realistic paintings, but also expand the pre-existing artistic mediums to new levels that would be just as intriguing and interesting as photography. In fact photography became so popular that it eventually became the most wide spread form of art in the world (Russel, 1993). In the beginning photography was mainly used for scientists to capture their discoveries and artists to snap still portraits and other types of still imagery. Eventually, photography started to grow so quickly and so largely that artists also started to create their own photographic mediums. Not only did photography help challenge pre-existing artists, it also gave birth to a new form of artist, who may not have been able to draw or paint. These artists started stretching outside the realm of simply just taking photographs, and started using photography in different forms to express themselves and create different forms of art. The artist May Ray, is an excellent example of this. Through his accidental invention of the Rayograph he was able to manipulate his photographs into a reverse negative print, known as photograms (ds, E, &ump; Ware, 2004). This simple advancement allowed the stereotype of photographs being used solely as a way to capture a moment in time to be broken and several other uses for the camera were born. As photography became a larger and larger presence in the world so did the advancements in the technology and the uses of photography. One of the first realizations that was not a mainstream use for photography was documentation of war (Kleiner &ump; Maymiam, 2005). As early as the American Civil War a photographer by the name of Mathew B. Brady started capturing eerily truthful and detailed photographs of what the real nature of war was (Kleiner &ump; Maymiam, 2005). For the first time civilians were able to view the graphic nature of the battlefield. In years to come images like these were able to be printed in newspapers, letting people worldwide see war, through these developments photojournalism was born. During the great depression many journalist were able to capture the horrible moments of this period through social commentary using both the camera and their journalistic skills. This was very important because not only was the world able to hear about moments in history they were also about to see history expressed visually, this combination creates a great mental image and can be used to not only live in the moment from somewhere else in the world, but also revisit moments in the worlds past with a more vivid interpretation. Photojournalism is one of the great uses that still cameras brought to the world. Photojournalism is still used today and has been one of the most important advancements in the history of the world. When black and white film, processing and printing, along with the further development of artistic imagery through the use of special effects and photographic manipulation were combined, a whole new form of advertising was born (Russel, 1993). These advancements in technology helped evoke senses and feelings that other forms of advertising simply could not. Advertising through photography became so popular that everyone from small mom and pop shop’s to war protestors started combining words with photographs to create their own advertisements. This soon became a worldwide sensation and it obviously grew to such popularity that it is now almost literally impossible to turn a corner and not see photographic advertising. Eventually artists and inventors alike started to wonder how to be able to express motion in the most real way possible, this lead to the development of cinematography and the motion picture camera. Though still cameras were an amazing advancement that helped society in countless great ways, an advancement that helped in even more ways was the motion picture. One of the first recorded instances of a “film” technique was a scientist named Eadweard Muybridge in California, who lined up twenty-four still cameras in a row to photograph a running horse to prove his theory that all four of the horses legs were in the air at one point while it was running (Russel, 1193). Through the years after this many more developments were made in motion picture. From simple quick motion images, to silent film; to the commercials, television shows and movies of today’s era there is no doubt that the process of putting several thousand still images together to create an illusion of movement had a major impact on how society lives its life now, and how further developments in film will continue to affect us in the future. Though these are only a small view of all the different ways that photography has impacted humanity, its major presence and effect on how we view history, how we live today, and how we will live in the future cannot be denied. Photography brought new challenges for artists, created new artists, and with it new forms of artwork. Photography also recorded great moments in history and scientific discoveries that, if they had not been captured may have been lost forever. Photography has also helped develop advertising, and spread news throughout the world; it has helped in development of new inventions such as film and digital artwork. Like many other great advancements photography not only became more advanced as time went on, it spawned many new inventions and advancements in technology that may not have been found before it. These advancements have impacted the world of humanities in countless ways and will most likely continue to do so for all of mankind’s continued existence.

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