If you are looking for some interesting history about still images, look no further than our photography facts.
We have 20 of them crammed into one article.
We are going to look at why people didn’t smile in old photographs, and just how much photographers love capturing their cats.
20. The First Color Photograph Was Taken in 1861
The world’s first color image was the result of layering layering three separate images of red, green and blue filters. These were then projected onto a photosensitive plate with the corresponding filters.
It was Thomas Sutton who suggested this process. This photographer and inventor created the first SLR camera around the same time as the color image.
He was also the one who developed the earliest panoramic camera with a wide angle lens in 1859. We owe a lot to him.
19. The First Projected Image Was Through a Camera Obscura
When we think of an image, we think of a photograph or landscape on a screen. We forget that tiny holes are enough to allow a projection of any given scene. Glass isn’t even needed.
The first projected image was through a Camera Obscura. This was a dark box with a tiny hole that let in light, and an upside view of the scene in front of the hole.
It is a literal translation from Latin, meaning Dark Room. The principle was first recorded by Mozi, a Chinese philosopher, between 470 to 391 BCE.
This is the idea behind the pinhole camera.
18. Potassium Chloride and Aluminum Made The First Flashes
You might know it, but that’s actually a very dangerous combination. Flashes were created by mixing powder that would create a bright light when introduced to a spark.
These connections often led to violent explosions if they were not properly mixed. If you have a Speedlite, you have it easy.
17. The World’s Most Expensive Photograph Sold For $4.3 Million
The world’s most expensive photograph, Rhein II, was captured by Andreas Gursky in 1999. In 2011, 12 years later, it sold for an incredible $4,338,500 at auction.
It is still the most expensive image, even though Peter Lik boasts to have sold an image for over $7 Million. There is no proof of this action though, as the seller wanted to remain anonymous.
16. The Daguerreotype Was the First Camera Capable of Recording an Image
Daguerreotype was a photographic process created by Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre. The entire process from start to finish was very complicated, but without it, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
As it was the first image capturing device, it makes sense it was also the oldest. A camera made by French manufacturers Susse Freres (Susse Brothers) in 1839 sold in 2007 for almost $800,000.
15. Kodak Doesn’t Mean Anything
Kodak has no real meaning. This might be hard to believe since many brands have a great connection between their product and their name.
For example, Canon means a rule, law or principle. Ilford takes its name from its birthplace and Olympus is the home of the Greek Gods.
George Eastman, the founder of Kodak said that the letter ‘K’ sounded strong, so he formed a word around it.
14. Cat Photos Are a Lot Older Than You Think
You might think that funny cat photos are a trend that began a few years ago. Although it is still one of the most popular searches in Google, it originally started in the 19th century.
This viral trend was born in the 1870s, when Harry Pointer captured his own cats, and started it all. Someone please thank that man!
13. Polaroid Produced the First Auto-Focus SLR Camera in 1979
We all know when the first SLR camera was invented (look at number 20). It wasn’t until 120 years later was the auto-focus feature added.
The camera manufacturer that did was Polaroid. This might surprise you as they get their fame from instant cameras and film.
12. The First Aerial Photographs No Longer Exist
It was French inventor Gaspard-Félix Tournachon who captured the first aerial image in 1858. Nadar, as he was otherwise known, was a balloonist who frequented the heights above Paris.
He took his camera on one trip. Sadly, though, the images no longer exist.
11. The Oldest Surviving Image Is Almost 200 Years Old
Not only was it taken almost 200 years ago, but it took 8 hours to capture! The image was by Joseph Niepce and named ‘view from the window’.
The scene took place in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France. It shows the surrounding castle and other buildings. It was a camera obscura that created this image.
A projected image from the window hit a sensitized plate, which was then used to place the image on paper. A lot of work went into this image, and we are lucky it survived.
10. The Cameras That Captured the Moon’s Surface Are Still There
When the Apollo 11 mission took off for the moon, they carried 12 Hasselblad cameras with them. They are still there, on the moon.
The cameras were deemed too heavy for the return journey. The astronauts left them behind to make space for the 25 kilos of rock samples they brought back. They did, however, bring the film back with them.
9. The First Photography Paper Was Made Out of Asphalt
Well, it wasn’t made from the same stuff we make roads and pavements from. It was, however, made into varnish and applied to copper or glass plates.
The asphalt, commonly known as Bitumen, was a black viscous liquid that was light-sensitive.
8. The Most Popular Subjects for Photography During the 1800s Weren’t Alive
This might surprise you, but one of the most popular subjects were dead bodies. This was a way to record the memory and physical appearance of the family member.
Thank God this is one trend we left behind.
7. You Can Develop Your Negatives in Coffee
You might not believe it, but Caffenol is a real thing. Use coffee, vitamin C, and washing soda to develop your black and white negatives.
The first two ingredients bind together to form a developer. The washing soda adds alkalinity to the solution, allowing images to be developed.
6. The Most Viewed Photograph in History
It might go without saying, but the most viewed photograph is the default wallpaper for Windows XP. The image named ‘Bliss”, captured by Charles O’Rear in 1996.
He didn’t make as much money as you would imagine. Microsoft bought the image from stock website Corbis.
5. How Many Images Do We Capture Every Two Minutes?
This is almost one of those facts that you wish you didn’t know. But once you know it, you can never unknow it. Every two minutes we snap more pictures than the whole of humanity did in the 1800s.
Only a few million images were taken in the 80 years leading up to the first commercial camera. In 1999, Kodak reported that we had taken approximately 80 billion images.
The estimate is that we share 730 billion images a year on Facebook, 255 billion on WhatsApp and 22 billion on Instagram. This is without counting Snapchat, iMessage and other apps.
Thanks for all the food images and selfies, guys.
4. Which Side of Our Face Looks Better in Photographs
Apparently, the left side of our faces looks better in photographs than the right side. A study conducted by Kelsey Blackburn and James Schrillo from Wake Forest University confirms this.
Their study shows that due to the left sides of our faces exhibiting a greater intensity of emotion, we perceive it as being more attractive.
3. The First Negative was Created by …
Photography went through many technological advances before we came to the first film negative. Camera Obscura, the Daguerreotype and many other ideas before we settled on the now widely used standard.
It was none other than Fox Talbot who created the first negative. It became known as a salted Calotype. Silver iodide and a developing agent (a mixture of gallic acid and silver nitrate) mixed together created a negative.
These made reprinting positive images easy and quickly through contact printing.
This event occurred in 1839, but he didn’t announce it until 1941. This is part of the reason why Fox gained the Rumford medal of the Royal Society a few years later.
2. The Inventor of Photography Was Better Known for…
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was the creator of the first recorded image. He is, however, better known for his other inventions, propellers and boats.
1. Why Did People Never Smile in Old Photos
Old photographs were taken with huge large format cameras, where the technology wasn’t quite what is it today. An image would take hours to expose properly.
The subjects didn’t smile because they had to stay still for hours. The images often involved the use of a head brace for support. It is understandable that smiling for hours was an impossible feat.
Or perhaps they were all deceased family members (number 8).
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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