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Photos of Niepce: how were the first pictures taken?

After people learned to create a light image in the camera obscura, it remains to come up with only a way to fix it on paper.

Scientists took up this issue around the beginning of the 20th century.

The best results in this difficult matter were achieved by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre and Joseph Nissefour Niepce from France and William Fox Henry Talbot from England. These people became famous all over the world as inventors of photographs.

The first photograph taken on a plate covered with asphalt
N. Niepce was the first who managed to fix the light image. For the basis of his method, he took the properties of such a material as asphalt. As is known, its thin layer on a lighted place becomes hard, and on unlit places it was washed out with kerosene and lavender oil.

Thus, in 1826, Niepce managed to get a picture on a metal plate, which he covered with asphalt, his thin layer, before “shooting”.

This photograph, taken with a camera obscura, depicted the view from the window of the inventor’s workshop. Heliography – this is exactly what the author himself began to call such “solar drawings”.

That is how the plate with the first picture looked

The scientist was not at all easy to fix the image, the quality of which left much to be desired. At that time, the exposition was spent 8 hours. But the merit of Niepce lies precisely in the fact that he marked the beginning of photography.

The background to the appearance of the first photograph of N. Niepce
The French inventor has experimented a lot with the camera obscura since 1816. He tried to apply it in lithography and save the picture on a lithographic stone. Niepce collected similar cameras himself.

The scientist tried to take the paper, the surface of which was covered with silver chloride, and put it in the camera. But the French did not succeed in achieving positive results from these experiments, since the image looked like a negative, and there was no way to fix it.

Later he decided to use bitumen (this material was also called Syrian asphalt). He was chosen because of his ability to react to light. By that time, Niepsu was already aware that under the influence of light, asphalt was losing its original color. This material changed its qualities under the influence of kerosene.

The scientist dissolved asphalt in the form of a powder with the help of lavender oil. He used such a solution for rubbing various substrates, in the role of which both plates of silver, copper or zinc, and glass, and lithographic stone were used.

Such a substance as asphalt, insensitive to light. It is for this reason that Niepce began to conduct his experiments with this material without a camera obscura. He took a plate of glass, covered it with a small layer of mortar from asphalt and dried it. Then I copied an engraving on it with the help of light. For this, the paper substrate of the engraving was impregnated with oil, as a result of which it became transparent.

After these procedures, he put the plate in a bowl, where he poured kerosene and lavender oil. Under the influence of such a mixture, asphalt was dissolved in those areas where the lines of the engraving protected it from the influence of light rays. Next, it was necessary to rinse the plate with water and dry.

When examining the resulting picture on a dark background, Niepce saw an excellent positive image. Unfortunately, this first heliography has not been preserved.

Further research by N. Niepce
Of course, the picture that turned out to be the inventor, it is difficult to call this a photograph (in the modern sense). But it was the first and important “step” to its appearance.

In the future, Niepce tried to improve the image by working with the lens of the camera obscura. And he did it when he created a special diaphragm that removed some defects of the picture.

Another image created by Niepce

A year after the creation of the first picture, Nicephor met L. Dagger, the same inventor as he, and agreed to cooperate with him, showing him all his achievements and achievements, which led to the further development of photography and the appearance of the so-called “daguerreotype”.

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